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Campaign message: Be grateful

Don't forget how bad things were. That's the message of President Barack Obama's new re-election video, "The Road We've Traveled." To the millions of Americans disappointed by Obama's presidency, the video narrated by Tom Hanks says: Things could have been much worse. In fact, they were much worse. They're better now. Be grateful.

Hanks asks: "How do we understand this president and his time in office? Do we look at the day's headlines? Or do we remember what we as a country have been through?"

The object is flatly political. Obama's operatives don't want you to judge him by your unhappiness with your present financial situation. Nor do they want you to judge him by the high aspirations you had for him in the summer of 2008. Forget all that hopey-changey stuff. They want to reset your expectations to the weeks after his election, when the economy was going south, fast.

The story of economic recovery consumes more than seven minutes of the 17-minute video. Three minutes on health care, then the scene shifts to Iraq. Obama promised to bring our troops home, and he did. Don't forget that, you ingrates, the video implies. Then we're off to Abbottabad, Pakistan, for the hit on Osama bin Laden.

The next two minutes recount all the good things Obama has done for this or that constituency: health insurance for young adults, drug discounts for seniors, equal pay for women, ending "don't ask, don't tell" for gays. The list goes on: stem-cell research, mileage standards, renewable energy, student loans. Hanks credits the president with "raising expectations in our schools."

For Obama, however, Hanks suggests lowering expectations. "Let's remember how far we've come," Hanks concludes. If you don't think you're better off than you were four years ago, you've forgotten how bad things were.

© 2012 Slate

Campaign message: Be grateful 03/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 17, 2012 5:31am]
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