An enormous gap has opened in the economic reality that most Americans inhabit and the one that their perpetually campaigning president perceives.
According to the RealClearPolitics average, nearly three-out-of-four Americans believe Barack Obama has lead the nation down the wrong track; barely one-in-five disagree.
Their gloomy perception has something to do with at least 9% unemployment for 26 of the last 28 months, with the 14 million unemployed and the 18.5 million underemployed and with the White House's own economic growth predictions revised downward.
According to the Gallup Poll, Democrat Obama's job approval is at its lowest 40% now, with a majority (52%) disapproving.
But the president sees himself as having made "a bunch of tough choices" since taking office. And as a result of his leadership, he says, "We were able to pull this economy out of a Great Depression."
Obama spoke to about five dozen supporters Monday evening. Each had paid more than $35,000 to gather with him in an eighth floor apartment on New York's Park Avenue.
The week after his party endured an embarrassing special House election loss just across the East River, Obama is in Manhattan again ostensibly to attend the United Nations General Assembly session.
But he and wife Michelle will each also squeeze Democratic fundraising into their otherwise impossible schedules.
"I could not be prouder of the choices we made," the president proclaimed about his tenure so far.
However, perhaps inadvertently, Obama also uttered a backhanded admission of failure. "Although we stabilized the economy," he said, "we’ve stabilized it at a level that’s just too high, in terms of unemployment and in terms of hardship all across America."
Shunning the role of assertive chief executive, the former state senator sounded a complaint about politics in Washington: "What has been clear over the last two and a half years is that we have not had a willing partner."
Obama said he and Republicans have "a fundamentally different vision about where America needs to go," vowing to put teachers and construction crews back to work on rebuilding America.
Predictably, Obama said, "You’re already hearing the moans and groans from the other side about how we are engaging in class warfare and we’re being too populist and this and that and the other -- all the usual scripts. I mean, it’s predictable, the news releases that come out from the other side."
But then in a plaintive closing moment, the 44th president told the group, "I can’t do it alone."
-- Andrew Malcolm
Photos: David Karp / Associated Press (the Obamas arrive in New York City for fundraisers and the UN session and a happy Obama).