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Today's Obama pep rally for small business and lenders -- gloom or hope?

March 16, 2009 | 12:53 am

How bad is the U.S. economy really?

The U.S. economy is so bad now that Nigerians are getting financial scam e-mails from Americans.

For weeks, we've been hearing from President Obama and VP Joe #%$^&* Biden how this is the worst economic crisis since even before Biden entered the Senate, which wasn't that long after the Pony Express ran out of oats. That White House PR drive helped drive a public sense of urgency to drive the members of Congress to pass Nancy Pelosi's non-bipartisan stimulus package, which it did.

But the really gloomy talk, which Americans don't like for too long (just ask Jimmy Carter), also caused a lot of folks to stop spending, which wasn't really the idea. And it sent the stock market down around Savannah.

If you've got the courage, click on this fascinating stock market chart/timeline of the market and the first half of Obama's first 100 days from the must-read fivethirtyeight.com blog. Not good news for anyone's mutual funds, even the few Barack and Michelle Obama owned before the election.

The first part of President Barack Obama's first 100 days matched against the plummeting stock  markets

Well, after weeks of hearing from President Obama that the economy is the worst since way before he was born, last week even the Chinese began expressing concern. And they were born before everybody.

So the president went out of his way to seek to reassure America's largest creditor nation, a financial reality that doesn't reassure many U.S. minds already pondering reliance on foreign energy. (But that's another issue.)

Obama has given signs of tweaking his message in recent days. Yes, he inherited an awful mess from that profligate George W. Bush guy. Just awful.

But the plodding Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, began talking more positively/confidently (see video just below here) last week and over the weekend, denouncing fear of fear. The fallen markets had a couple of positive days.

And it was probably ineluctable that within -- what? -- less than eight weeks one of the president's Harvard cronies would insert "ineluctable" into the country's public discourse.

The president sounds downright hopeful in the news video on the jump below. We're likely to hear more of the same this morning when he addresses small-business owners and community lenders in a White House conference. He'll still try to tie his historically ambitious legislative agenda to the contemporary economic troubles.

Listen for more such positive tweaks in coming days. It's bad. But we're strong. If we can go to the moon, we can automate all medical records and cover everyone with health insurance and reform the country's education system and stop foreclosures and expand the war in Afghanistan and create a federal deficit with more zeroes than most civilian calculators contain and then cut the deficit in half by giving 95% of Americans tax cuts and sticking it to a few rich people. And the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

That and, perhaps, China calling in all its loans at once. Hopefully, that's not ineluctable.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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