Grin and Bear It

By the time President Obama sat down with House Republicans on June 1 to talk about the exploding public debt, the economic data had been grim for days: another decline in home values, a new dip in consumer confidence and, just that morning, the lowest manufacturing-sector growth rate in more than a year and a dismal payroll report showing job growth far below expectations. In another era, these sorts of numbers would have led to a predictable chain of events for either a Republican or a Democratic President: rush to the cameras, empathize with those suffering the pain and declare that help is on the way.