After the speeches, reality bites for Barack Obama

Jobless data underlines task ahead for Obama after rip-roaring convention

Charlotte

Poorer than expected unemployment numbers released yesterday pricked the euphoria of Democrats as they headed home after their three-day convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and underscored why the main message of President Barack Obama’s not quite soaring acceptance speech on Thursday night had been ‘give me more time’.

With two months remaining in the race, both candidates headed without delay to the swing states of Iowa and New Hampshire, with new polls showing them almost precisely tied. The jobs data gave an instant opening to Mitt Romney to argue his case that President Obama’s economic policies have failed and he should be shown the door.

The Democrat gathering, which saw highest marks awarded to speakers Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama, was widely regarded as largely successful, especially when set beside the far less fizzy Republican confab held in Tampa the week before. It will be several days, however, before we know if it leads to a commensurate polling boost.

How long a shadow has been cast by the unemployment data is also hard to judge. It is not the drip of monthly figures that voters worry about but their personal situations. But helpful yesterday’s data certainly was not. The government said 96,000 new jobs were created in August, less than the 125,000 economists had been expecting. And while the jobless rate fell to 8.1 per cent from 8.3 per cent that was only because of people giving up on seeking work.

“If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover,” Mr Romney said in a statement. “After 43 straight months of unemployment above 8%, it is clear that President Obama just hasn’t lived up to his promises and his policies haven’t worked.” The White House quickly countered with a different interpretation.

“While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the US economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” suggested Alan Krueger, the chairman of Mr Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

As Mr Obama took the stage to make his case for re-election, he already knew the jobs data and that it would be an inconvenient punctuation point to the Charlotte celebration. Some saw in that an explanation for why his acceptance speech seemed in oratory and substance more workmanlike than wow - or more prose than poetry.  In it he set a series of benchmarks for a second term, including creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2016.

He also conceded that his policies for curing the country’s economic malaise had yet to take full effect. “I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I never have,” he declared. “You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

Even within the headline jobs numbers was the additionally discouraging news that the Labour Department had revised downwards by 41,000 the number of posts created in June and July. “The indisputable message of today's job report: We're not creating jobs fast enough, and we’re certainly not better off than we were four years ago,” Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus pronounced. On the brighter side for Democrat, the numbers are likely to prod the Federal Reserve into take new round of quantitative easing to boost the recovery.

Prior to Obama’s speech, convention organizers had wheeled out a slate of young celebrities, perhaps hoping to rub salt into the wound of Clint Eastwood’s befuddling skit involving an empty chair in Tampa. Hollywood stars Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson and Kerry Washington spoke from the rostrum. Musical interludes came courtesy of The Foo Fighters and Mary J Blige. A hush fell over the Time Warner arena when Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who suffered a critical brain injury in an assassination attempt in Tucson early last year walked haltingly onto the stage to lead delegates in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Political royalty was meanwhile represented by Caroline Kennedy, the only living child of JFK, who said that the President “has the quality my father most admired in public life: courage.” The death of her uncle, Teddy, this election cycle has left Democrats without a member of the Camelot dynasty in elected office for the first time in decades.

That could be about to change, however. Late on Thursday, party genealogists were cheered by news that Joseph Kennedy III, the 31-year-old grandson of JFK’s brother, Robert F Kennedy, had been selected as a Democratic candidate for Congress. He will contest a seat in Massachusetts being vacated by Barney Frank. Despite his surname, the newly-minted candidate said he wants to earn votes on his own merits. “I got into this race because I believe this country was built on a simple promise: that each of us deserves a fair shot.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine