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'No wonder the guy is so unpopular'

David Letterman: "Gas under $3 a gallon ... Unemployment under 6% ... Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder [President Obama] is so unpopular."
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking during an event on Oct. 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking during an event on Oct. 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
David Letterman's monologue last night included some observations that stood out for me:

"This is what happens when we have the midterm elections. The Republicans, of course, have turned against Obama, and the Democrats have also turned against Obama. That's a lonely, lonely gig being president, ladies and gentlemen. "Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon -- under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular."

As the saying goes, it's funny because it's true.
And with so much of the country in a dour, pessimistic mood, much of the electorate is blaming President Obama, whether or not that makes sense.
Indeed, over the last several months, countless hours of attack ads have aired, hammering home a simple Republican message: "You should hate the president and vote accordingly against everyone in his party." The pushback from Democrats, defending the president and the White House's popular policy agenda? Well, that never really happened this year. The political results were predictable.
But this only helps underscore why Letterman's quip is memorable: there's reason for some national optimism. Voters just haven't heard much about it.

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At this point, I'm not even sure what conditions would have to look like for the mainstream to see the nation as being on the right track. We have falling unemployment, increasing growth, rising stock indexes, a shrinking deficit, and increasing economic confidence. More Americans are gaining access to affordable medical care. More Americans are graduating from high school and entering higher ed. Gas prices keep dropping. Even the federal response to the Ebola threat has turned out to be pretty darn effective, and Joni Ernst's opinions notwithstanding, only one guy in the country actually has the virus.
Putting aside whether the White House gets credit for any of the developments, what exactly would a country moving "in the right direction" look like? Shouldn't current conditions meet that standard?