WILL: Twenty-four months ago, they thought there was going to be a New Deal. The assumption going in was that there had been a crisis of confidence in capitalism that would open the way for government to have much more latitude for activism. It turns out what happened was a crisis of confidence in government, which was in no small measure blamed for the recession, so that...
KRUGMAN: I agree. That's how it played out. It's not clear...
KRUGMAN: ... was right, but that's how it played out.
BRAZILE: But without that public investment, without simulating the economy, more Americans would have been in poverty, more state and local governments would have had to lay off teachers, and firefighters, and policemen.
So I think the president and the Democrats, who once controlled half that Capitol, they had the right priorities at the right time, but this is a different era and the president has to show he has a plan to create jobs for the future.
DOWD: Well, what I think is interesting is, the presidencies are founded on the idea that you have the power and the ability to communicate to the vast majority of the American public. When your numbers drop, you no longer have that power, and you no longer have the ability to fashion policy when you don't.
This president, I think, has finally learned that he is not going to be judged on a number of liberal or progressive legislative accomplishments, which he had a ton, more than any president in recent memory. He had health care. He had a number of things on investment packages. He had all that. And his numbers didn't move; they actually fell.
Until he shifted -- elections have consequences, and he shifted to a set of policies that was more in tune with where the American public was. His numbers have risen. Now he has the power of the pulpit again.
KRUGMAN: Yeah, I mean, look, I think the model is something like Clinton, who, in fact, mostly was just riding on a successful economy, which was successful mostly for reasons that had nothing much to do with him, but he was able to -- to be a very popular president by presiding over that, by providing competent management on those things you could control. I think that is Obama's model now. It's -- I'm not sure it'll be enough, because this -- we're in much deeper economic trouble than we were in the '90s. But given the realistic of political limits, you can't expect him to do too much.
AMANPOUR: We talk about symbolism, what the president needs to do. Politically, he's moved to the -- to the center. He's heeded the call of the people, so to speak. But when it comes to real solutions, how do you kick start and how do you make a dent in that 9.4 figure?
WILL: You don't. I had lunch this week with Austan Goolsbee, who was your guest a few weeks ago, and he said, look, people seem to feel that in the basement of the White House somewhere think there's an enormous switch, you go down and throw it, and jobs are created.
The fact is the terrible frustration in the White House must be that everything that really matters is beyond their control, which is how to create jobs. It's not going to happen because of the government.
AMANPOUR: We will pick that up in -- in a moment. When we come back, we'll have more with our roundtable on the state of the Obama president and what we expect in the State of the Union address, when we return.
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