White House hopes for the summer were sky-high as plans were made for a messaging blitz the administration hoped would buoy struggling Democratic candidates across the country. But now, after yet another week dominated by foreign policy messes, missiles, and mayhem, President Obama has been reduced to looking for new ways to slip his preferred message into any openings he can find—even if it doesn't seem to fit.
Nothing better captured the White House's desperation to get out its economic story than the little domestic detour the president took in Wednesday's address to the nation. For 10 minutes he made a strong appeal for national unity behind his fight against terrorists. Then, abruptly, he added, "Our technology companies and universities are unmatched. Our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it's been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history."
On CNN, David Gergen was taken aback by the detour. "I thought the first part of the speech where he talked about the attack on ISIS was strong, presidential, serious," said the man who worked for four previous presidents. "What surprised me was the second part of the speech when he started talking about how well the country is doing, how well we're doing with jobs, how we're leading around the world." Gergen saw this as misreading the American mood and hurting his overall credibility. "America is feeling pretty blue right now, and I think those kind of assertions don't ring true with a lot of people." He added that many viewers may have thought, "How much should we believe the rest of the speech?"