This week saw the first presidential debate. The main topic was the economy, but we heard more about Big Bird than jobs or the foreclosure crisis. Also missing: President Obama, who was more present on stage with Eastwood in Tampa than with Romney in Denver. It wasn't a bad metaphor for the last three years: one side lying about tax cuts and deficits, the other defensive and unwilling to fight for its own job-creating policies. The election narrative shifted again on Friday when the latest jobs report showed a drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent. Republicans screamed fraud, with no basis in reality. But lest we pop the champagne too soon, remember that at the present rate of 114,000 jobs added a month, it would take over a decade to reach full employment. A celebration based on such meager numbers underscores just how badly we need a real debate on the economy.
One of the most lauded speeches at the Democratic convention was given by Bill Clinton, and the bulk of it found the former president debunking the assertions made by Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and others at the Republican convention. It's no wonder then that the undecided voters in key swing states who will determine the winner in November are not ready to trust Romney and Ryan enough to buy into a policy that doesn't help them initially, but only will based on the promises of those who would benefit immediately. They don't trust Romney and Ryan to deliver. Throw in the GOP's shift to the extreme right on social issues, which is scaring away some women voters, and the president's ability to hold a lead in the polls despite the economic conditions starts to make clear sense.