During a bus tour this week, President Barack Obama made some interesting revisions to the history of his first term. At a campaign stop at a historical society of all places, Obama described the financial crisis as an unexpected event that voters could not have anticipated when they elected him in November 2008. Here's the key excerpt:
So we came together in that election -- Democrats, but also independents and, yes, some Republicans -- to restore that basic bargain that built this country. And we knew at the time it wouldn’t be easy. We knew it would take more than one year or one term or maybe even one President. But what we didn’t realize at the time was we were going to be hit by the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.
If this version of events is true, then Obama was the only person in the country who hadn't realized by November 2008 that world was in the midst of a serious financial crisis. Why else had Congress already passed the bailout? The absurdity of the remark highlights a tension in Obama's reelection narrative: He wants to convince voters that the country's economic problems predated his administration, but he also wants to convince disillusioned supporters that he could not have been expected to anticipate those very same problems. Like so much else over the past three and a half year, the accounts simply don't add up.