Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama in Kentucky: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

For a minute, it looked like rising unemployment in Kentucky would give Barack Obama's presidential campaign a boost here, but by then he'd blown that opportunity by choosing a speech in Orlando over charming the Midwest at Fancy Farm.

Kentucky's unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in June, up from 6.2 percent in May. It's now almost a full percentage point higher than the national rate of 5.5 percent.

More specifically, since June 2007, unemployment has gone up in 108 of Kentucky's 112 120 counties.

The eight counties with the highest unemployment - 9.9 to 11.8 percent - are all in Eastern Kentucky, the exact region where Obama received the fewest votes in the May primary. Obama has a huge opportunity there to make an economic case for his candidacy.

Come to Kentucky, Barack. Look us in the eye and tell us that you're going to reverse the screw-the-middle-class policies of the last seven years. Tell us how you're going to wean us off our dependence on coal industry jobs while you wean the nation off its dependence on coal-burning energy.

You say you've got a 50-state strategy. Kentucky is a state that's yours for the asking.

But you have to ask.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.