The debt ceiling mess, however it comes out, won't save or destroy Barack Obama's presidency; jobs will. The president's strategists get this, says Bloomberg's Al Hunt, and they see two different scenarios. In one, voters conclude that Obama's policies have economic policies have failed, and he's not the guy to turn things around. Bye-bye. In the second, voters understand that the president came in on a disaster not of his making, has done a decent job of staving off total catastrophe, and has the vision and the skills to put the economy back on track, unlike those crazy Republicans. The bad news for Obama: Which of these scenarios plays out depends on factors largely outside his control. Says Hunt, "If 2012 brings the equivalent of this year’s Japanese trauma or Greek crisis and persisting higher gas prices, with a relatively anemic 1.5 percent to 2 percent growth and joblessness stuck around 9 percent, the first scenario may be more likely." If Obama catches a break, the second is a better bet. The trouble is, nobody has a crystal ball."Asked what gas prices likely will be a year from now, a leading administration expert admits: 'Nobody has any real clue.'"
• 'High Unemployment Could Put Obama Out of Work as Well' [Albert R Hunt, Bloomberg News]