White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs tried to smooth over this seeming contradiction by asserting that Sen. McCain had characterized the economy as being fundamentally "STRONG", whereas the president had merely characterized the economy as being fundamentally "SOUND":
As I noted back then, aside from the fact that Mr. Gibbs' assertion was nothing more than a childish play on words, he was skewering the truth. "For indeed, during the first presidential debate in September, Barack Obama specifically stated that Sen. McCain had said the fundamentals of the economy were "SOUND" - not "STRONG". [McCain had actually used the word 'strong', but Obama mistakenly thought he had used the word 'sound'.] Obama then went on to say that he disagreed with this assumption and did not think the fundamentals of the economy were 'SOUND'":
OBAMA: And there are folks out there who've been struggling before this crisis took place. And that's why it's so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down.... because, you know, 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are SOUND.Nevertheless, Barack Obama on Monday repeated the same refrain.
DEBATE MODERATOR, JIM LEHRER: Say it directly to him.
OBAMA: I do not think that they are.
LEHRER: Say it directly to him.
OBAMA: Well, John, 10 days ago, you said that the fundamentals of the economy are SOUND. And...
MCCAIN TO LEHRER: Are you afraid I couldn't hear him?
At the conclusion of a Cabinet meeting on Monday, Obama said that the U.S. economy has "core strengths" that will put the nation in a good stead for the long term despite a difficult year for millions of people.
Jim Geraghty points out that when Barack Obama and Joe Biden ridiculed Sen. McCain for saying the "fundamentals of the economy" were "strong," unemployment was at 6.1 percent. Today unemployment is at 10.2 percent. And, according to the New York Times, some 17.5 percent of Americans were either without a job entirely or underemployed in the month of October.
In a separate post, back in March, I asked the following question while paraphrasing a sentence from Barack Obama's campaign ad: