Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


‘The Road We’ve Traveled’ under President Obama

Don’t click on this link unless/until you have 17 minutes to watch a video that summarizes Barack Obama’s case for reelection.

It’s titled “The Road We’ve Traveled.” The Obama campaign released it Thursday. It cost at least $354,000 to make, which is really chump change in the context of what this campaign will spend. Tom Hanks narrates. Bill Clinton is the guest star, popping up several times and, as usual, stealing the show.

None of the presentation techniques seem particularly innovative. Watching it, I was struck by how long 17 minutes feels in the age of the 30-second commercial and all the other speed-ups that have shortened our attention spans and all the dumb-downs that have trained us to bypass our brains in what now passes for “thinking.” The Lincoln-Douglas debates were three hours apiece in a format that featured a 90-minute rebuttal speech in the middle by whichever of the candidates went second. No music, no visual aids, no questions from the moderator.

But I digress. Back to the Obama video. The argument is fairly predictable. He got Bin Laden. He passed the health care bill. He saved the auto industry. He inherited an economic mess. Worse than anyone realized at the time. (Translation: Yes, it’s true that I said my economic program would keep unemployment below 8 percent, but no one knew at the time how deep a hole we were in.) Now the economy is growing.

Mitt Romney targets this logic in advance when he says that Obama’s excuse for the continuing weaknesses in the economy amounts to “it could have been worse.”

In a way that nails both the Repub attack and the Obama counterargument. If Obama wins re-election he will be the first president since FDR to be re-elected with an unemployment rate this high. We can’t know what the economy would be doing if John McCain — or Mitt Romney, who also ran —  had beaten Obama in 2008.

Have a nice weekend.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/16/2012 - 10:41 am.

    “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

    CBS News/New York Times Poll: March 12, 2012

    “Just 20% of Americans feel their family’s financial situation is better today than it was four yearsago. 37% say it is worse, and 43% say it is about the same.”

    There’s your GOP campaign ad.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 03/16/2012 - 11:53 am.

      In other words…

      63% feel that their financial situation is the same or better than it was before the financial meltdown. I fail to see how that supports your position.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 03/16/2012 - 04:41 pm.

      I Agree

      Yep, let’s go back before Obama took office.

      The Dow was at 8,281, now it’s over 13,000
      The economy was in such a freefall, no one knew where it would end. No one knew which banks would survive.
      Bin Laden roamed free.
      2 wars were sucking us dry financially, not to mention the greater cost in life and limb.

      Ah, the good ole days.

    • Submitted by Ruby Waller on 03/16/2012 - 05:44 pm.

      Yes, I am better off now than I was four years ago 3/16/2008

      In March of 2008, 4 years ago, I was a High School Graduate, retired from the Corporate World with no money left from my Cash Balance that I collected when I retired because of astronomical medical bills that our Insurance did not cover completely. With no money left, we could not pay the mortgage on our home and the bank would not accept a short sell so our home was repossessed, sold upside down, and the mortgage company came after us for the balance forcing us to rent putting us even deeper in debt. In June of 2008, we found ourselves deep in debt with all our cars repossessed, economically depressed, one paycheck away from bankruptcy with my husband laid off and paying an arm and a leg for health care on my job without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of praying President Obama would win the election, keep his health care promises, and turn our miserable economy that took our houses, our cars, and our financial security around.

      Today, March 16, 2012 thanks to President Obama and the road we’ve traveled, I am a gainfully employed published Author/Poet with a lifetime publishing contract and my own Independent Contractor Business called Ruby Zandra’s Blue Jazz Society of Hope. Home of the Obamian Nation World Choir. As of today, thanks to President Obama’s many reforms while in office, we have an Affordable Health Care Plan with a Clinic we selected from the website published by the Obama Administration after signing the Affordable Health Care Act into law.

      Today my husband and I can both fill all our Med prescriptions instead of only the $4 generic priced ones. Today, our Dr. visits cost us $25 instead of $100. Today I am back in school thanks to the reforms President Obama made in Financial Aid allowing anyone who wanted to an education to go back to school and get one. Thanks to PBO, I am a Sr. at Grand Canyon University’s School of Education on the President’s list with a 3.9 GPA preparing to graduate with the class of 2013.

      Am I better off today than four years ago 3/16/2008? Hell Yeah! What a difference 3 years has made under a President keeping his promises one Executive Order at a time! I can’t wait to get to the polls on 11/6/2012 to give him 4 more years to strut his stuff leading us to peace, prosperity and a better way of life! Obama 2012

  2. Submitted by Diane Nelson on 03/16/2012 - 12:41 pm.

    I am! I am better off than four years ago.

    The balance of my largest 401k account dropped 42 percent in the year ending 2008 – W’s last year in office. Each year since, with Obama in office, it has made significant returns without any additional contributions, now just 8 percent from its 2007 level.

    I am better off with the likelihood there will be affordable health care insurance for me to purchase in the marketplace in a few years so that I have the option to work part time to ease into retirement, instead of being chained to full time for the heath benefits.

    I am hopeful that as a woman, with an 8 year granddaughter, we will see not only legislation but a culture that chooses to pay women equally for the same work as their male counterparts.

    I am hopeful that true segregation of church and state will characterize our political domain, and one day there will be no religious test of those who lead my country.

    And I am once again proud when I travel internationally, to name my current president, without hanging my head low in embarrassment.

    Yes, Dennis. I am way better off.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/16/2012 - 12:52 pm.

    The question is

    “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” and only 20% say yes.

    That’s how.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/16/2012 - 01:58 pm.

    Under the road?


    One does not travel under a road, one travels over it.

  5. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 03/16/2012 - 02:36 pm.

    travel internationally?

    It must be nice to have the income to “travel internationally.” I would love that. Unfortunately, I’m one of the 37 percent who is financially worse off than I was in 2008. It’s unlikely I will be able to travel internationally anytime soon, regardless of whether I’m ashamed of the president.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/16/2012 - 08:07 pm.

    Are you better off…?

    I’m better off… sort of. Housing and food are less expensive here than in metro Denver, which helps quite a bit. On the other hand, state income taxes are nearly 3 times what they were in Colorado on the exact same income, and my property taxes are 50 percent higher – while the value of my property keeps declining. That doesn’t help. I won’t live long enough to pay off the mortgage, but it might not make a lot of difference, given how far I have to go just to get my nostrils above water on the home loan. Like Rosalind Kohls, I’m unlikely to travel internationally any time soon, but I still hold out hope for a return to Italy while I’m still somewhat sentient and still able to walk.

    Frankly, it makes no difference to me whether an Obama ad is smooth and inoffensive, creative and controversial, or unsophisticated. I’m not especially pleased with the Obama presidency, but the Republican field facing him is so amazingly awful that I can’t believe any of the candidates (or a couple of unannounced people who’d be happy to be drafted at the convention) will actually be representing what used to be a major political party. The megalomaniacal serial adulterer, the Puritanical theocrat, the plutocrat, or the dotty old man? Really? This is the best the Republican Party can offer the country? In normal times, all of them would be laughed off the national stage for being the fools and charlatans they are.

  7. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 03/16/2012 - 08:57 pm.

    Traveling standing still?

    How can you be traveling when you standing still? When I voted for him in 2008, I voted for change and, I thought at the time, a person who had clear sense of purpose. Since then, I have learned that our president really has not sense of purpose or destiny but has, as I read somewhere, the “undisclosed defect of fecklessness” Fecklessness is one of those great English language words that captures the essence of meaning. One on-line definition defines it thus:

    “1. Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective.
    “2. Careless and irresponsible.”

    Obama’s four years is not much different than I can imagine four years more of Bush would have been. Obama is not careless or irresponsible but he lacks the courage of his stated convictions. He does lack purpose and as I see him, is feeble and ineffective. His presidency has been a terrible disappointment.

    Having said that, I cannot imagine any sane person voting for any other candidate we’re going to get. Obamacare, for all its faults, at least engages with the reality which is the total breakdown of state regulation of health insurance, if that ever was anything like regulation (rather than a safe harbor for immunity from antitrust prosecution). We are way past the time for single payer health care. If Obama accomplishes one thing in his time min office, it will have been the extension of federal regulation over health care insurance and in time, the extension of Medicare for the entire population.

  8. Submitted by rolf westgard on 03/16/2012 - 09:01 pm.

    The nick of time

    We are all better off. Thank you, Mr. President, even though your energy policies need improvement.

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 03/17/2012 - 06:52 am.

    Obama, on any remotely objective analysis, is a conservatively-inclined moderate.

    The left doesn’t see it, because they assume that all blacks are liberals like them. So obviously Obama must be a liberal.

    The right doesn’t see it, because they combine the same race-based assumption with the further assumption that all Democrats must be liberals — even though they have been working industriously to expel from their party anyone who is less than rabidly conservative. (Actually, “reactionary” would be closer. Except that the past that they long to restore never really existed.)

  10. Submitted by rolf westgard on 03/17/2012 - 08:56 am.

    What it comes down to

    The film is effective because it is true.

  11. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/17/2012 - 10:07 am.

    Over or Under?

    Paul U:
    Depends on whether you’re a Demo or a Repub.

  12. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/18/2012 - 10:08 am.


    “Obama’s four years is not much different than I can imagine four years more of Bush would have been.”

    Would we be pulling troops out of Pashtunistan, or sending more in?
    Deficit (see above).
    Would health care be more available, or less?
    Would there be any Federal prosecution of financial sector abuses?

    We’re in a depression which started in 2007.
    Things could not be better for most of us; the question is how much worse they could be.

  13. Submitted by Marcia Brekke on 03/18/2012 - 09:08 pm.

    Repubs won’t agree

    No matter how many improvements the economy has made and will continue to make in Obama’s next four years in office, the Republicans will plug their ears, close their eyes and yell ‘LALALALA–Obama is doing nothing!”

    Fortunately for the nation, the number of folks voting Republican is decreasing, especially during this specatacle of the Repub fight for the nomination. Hilariously sad party, those R’s.

  14. Submitted by rolf westgard on 03/19/2012 - 07:42 am.

    Three stooges and Paul

    Right on Marcia, it is hilarious. They do rival the Three Stooges as a comic trio, perhaps because they resemble them so well.

Leave a Reply