The Romney Standard of Presidential Performance

An excellent catch by Brother Benen, who notes that Mitt Romney thinks presidents should be given a mulligan for the performance of the economy during their first year in office:

Mitt Romney sat down with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, and made a curious observation. He said voters who want a strong economy should vote for him, but Americans “ought to give, whichever president is going to be elected, at least six months or a year to get those policies in place.”

At first blush, that may sound fairly reasonable. A president takes office, he or she needs time to put a team in place, craft an agenda, and get to work. What’s more, we generally don’t see the results of economic policies immediately; the agenda needs to time to take effect. In Romney’s mind, six months to a year seems fair.

But let’s go ahead and apply this standard to President Obama, who took office in the midst of the worst global economic catastrophe since the Great Depression….

[I]f we don’t hold Obama’s first year against him, the economy has added over 3.7 million jobs overall during his presidency, and over 4.2 million in the private sector.

That’s not the count by my standard; that’s the count by Romney’s standard.

But I wonder about the Romney standard from a somewhat different angle: if “whichever President is going to be elected” deserves a fresh start (and I don’t think he’s talking about the Green or Libertarian candidates), does that apply to Obama as well? Does that mean if the president is re-elected, congressional Republicans should release their death grip on any and all economic initiatives and give the guy a chance to get something done?

Uh oh. Mitt’s ideological commissars won’t like that one. RINO alert! RINO alert!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.