Now, you would have thought that given the crisis, when we got to Washington Democrats and Republicans would come together, we’d put politics aside and deal with this once-in-a-generation challenge. 
President Barack Obama, October 22, 2010
With the possible exception of the aftermath of September 11th, it is very difficult to remember a national crisis where the solution took precedence over partisanship. Whether the president’s statement arose from naivete or sarcasm, he is correct. We deserve better than what we got.
Voters had every right to expect those trusted to guide our recovery from recession to demonstrate the wisdom to set every other consideration aside. Had the new Democratic regime in Washington understood this, and showed some minimal level of restraint in pursuing their agenda, perhaps we would not still be reading economic news like this:
In September, nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 34 states and increased in 16 states and the District of Columbia. The largest over-the-month employment decreases were in California (-63,500), New York (-37,600), Massachusetts (-20,900), and New Jersey (-20,200). 
Employers took 1,486 mass layoff actions in September that resulted in the separation of 133,379 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. 
January 2009’s 7.6% unemployment rate is a pleasant memory, given that the figure has risen 25%, to hover at a shocking 9.6%. Despite the billions seeded by the stimulus package, unemployment declined a scant 0.1% from January 2010 – September 2010.
The president sold the nation a different bill of goods:
We won’t do it the old Washington way. We won’t just throw money at the problem. We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve — by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world. 
The facts tell a different story. Progress against unemployment has been minimal. Spending has been high. Treasury Department data shows that our national debt rose by over $3 trillion in the 21 months since Mr. Obama took office, 50% more than the $2 trillion increase during the last two years of the Bush administration.
Democratic attacks saddle the GOP with the blame for the recession, despite their own majorities in both houses of Congress after the 2006 midterm elections. Yes, the recession began on Bush’s watch. It also began on the watch of a Democratic Congress. Nevertheless, the president absolves his minions of guilt while going so far as to accuse Republicans of malicious intent:
The Republicans made a tactical decision. I mean, they bragged about this, so this is not something I’m making up. They basically said to themselves, you know what, we created such a big mess, we have dug such a big hole, the economy is going to take so long to recover that we’re better off not trying to solve the problems. 
No one expected Barack Obama, or Democrats in Congress, to restore full employment, or to return lost savings to our retirement accounts. Even if the GOP takes both houses of Congress this fall, there is no guarantee that they can turn the economy around, either. There is a big difference, however, between making a full-out effort to make things better and not succeeding, and engaging in posturing and blame-mongering to foster divisiveness because the economy took a back seat to self-indulgence. We have a health care bill, we have a bill penalizing the financial sector, and we came close to passing the DREAM Act. We do not have jobs, or much hope for creating jobs anytime soon.
Democrats were handed a historic opportunity to show what they could do to turn the tide of an ongoing national calamity. They failed, but there is no shame in failure. The shame lies in blaming someone else while announcing the intention to repeat the same behaviors that ensured failure in the first place.
1..Remarks by the President at a Rally in Portland, Oregon. October 21, 2010.
2..Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary. October 22, 2010.
3..Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mass Layoffs Summary. October 22, 2010.
4..President-elect Barack Obama lays out key parts of Economic Recovery Plan. December 6, 2008.
5..Remarks by the President at an Event for Senator Boxer in Los Angeles, California. October 22, 2010.