April 24, 2014

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It's Not Just The Economy, Stupid

What we've learned-again-in the past week about what any president has to deal with.

Last week's turmoil in the Middle East once again taught an important lesson in what issues are important in presidential politics.

A seemingly endless number of protests over an internet video critical of Islam led to violence, resulting in the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, a country which has undergone its biggest changes in government in the past four decades.

In 1992, during another bumpy economic road, James Carville, an advisor to Bill Clinton, famously said "It's the economy, stupid", in what turned out to be a successful counterpoint to then-president George H.W. Bush, who had successfully formed a coalition to liberate Kuwait during the Gulf War.
 

This year, we've repeatedly been told this election is about the economy, with the nation still struggling to overcome the Great Recession of 2008-09, and unemployment still above eight per cent. All of the presidential candidates-including, mostly, President Obama-have campaigned on that theme.

But the discussion shifted, at least briefly, last week, after the events in Libya.  And that was a reminder that, while the economy is the big issue in this election, it's not the only one.

Any United States president has to turn his attention, however temporarily, on foreign affairs.  President Obama certainly did, with the elimination of Osama Bin Laden (for which he has taken credit on the campaign trail).

And foreign policy, especially Middle Eastern policy, has had an effect on the economy.  For all the talk about drilling, finding alternative fuels and fuel economy, the fact is that anytime something-anything-happens in the Middle East, it has an effect (usually upward) on the world price of oil.

It has certainly had the potential to increase interest in the presidential debate in the coming weeks dealing solely with foreign policy.

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