Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things Are Seldom as Good or as Bad as They Seem

Dan Froomkin, WaPo blogger, writes:

President Obama is getting a little impatient at the shortness of certain people's attention spans. Acknowledging a growing chorus of voices inside the Beltway calling for him to focus solely on short-term fixes to the economy, Obama yesterday made the case that if the goal is long-term growth (not "bubble and bust"), real confidence (not "false confidence") and lasting wealth (not "the illusion of prosperity"), then the nation needs to take a longer view than is currently fashionable in Washington's political and media circles.

In a fascinating, wide-ranging talk with top business executives yesterday, Obama didn't just explain his approach to the current economic crisis, he described how he keeps his head when others are losing theirs.

"We live in such a rapid-fire information-rich environment that people's attention spans go like this," he said, snapping his fingers. "And that makes for volatility in confidence. A smidgen of good news, and suddenly everything is doing great. A little bit of bad news — oh, we're down in the dumps. And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment. I'm the Object-in-Chief of this varying assessment." His audience laughed.

"So my view — you know, people ask me sometimes, well, you seem like a pretty calm guy, how do you do that? I say, well, look, I don't think things are ever as good as they say and they're never as bad as they say. And things two years ago were not as good as we thought because there were a lot of underlying weaknesses in the economy, and they're not as bad as we think they are now."

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