Blumer: The Election Should Be All About Barack Obama’s Record

On April 13, at Swampland, a blog at what’s left of Time magazineJoe Klein took Bill Galston at the New Republic to task for daring to write that Barack Obama’s successful reelection will be difficult “if the people don’t approve of his record.”

That’s about as non-controversial as it gets — but not for good ol’ Joe, who called Galston’s assertion “political science mythology.” Klein proceeded to offer three elections (2008, 1988, and 1976) which supposedly showed that a president’s record in office doesn’t matter. Readers can and should be forgiven for wondering why he chose those three campaigns, given that none of them involved incumbents seeking reelection.

In the interest of bringing Klein up to speed, let me remind him of three of the four most obvious relatively recent instances when the incumbent president’s record was of the utmost importance (the fourth is Bill Clinton’s defeat of Bush 41 in 1992, which was built on Clinton’s lie about “the worst economy in the past 50 years,” Bush’s breaking of his “no new taxes pledge,” and, most critically, the quixotic candidacy of Ross Perot).

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