Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
"Osama bin Laden is dead, GM is alive" is a nice slogan, all the more so for being true. Things are not as bad as they might have been after the economic disaster that revealed itself toward the end of the Bush administration, thanks in some part to the efforts of the incumbent President. Yet, still, things suck.
The fact that Obama is still a contender with unemployment at 8.3% shows that a lot of people believe that answering the four-year question involves more than comparing a snapshot of life during the last five minutes of the bubble to the realities of its aftermath. This was no ordinary downturn, and there was not going to be an ordinary recovery.
It's hard to see how repeating the policies pursued in the run-up to disaster makes much sense, but bad Bush-era decisions weren't the whole problem. Lessons about banking and human nature learned by our great-grandparents began to fade long before the turn of the millennium. And the problems caused by this Great Forgetting don't tell the whole story of what has happened to the American worker. Tectonic shifts like globalization and technological change are so resistant to political fixes (and so beneficial to powerful interests) that they don't even register in presidential politics.
So, the big question of the week strikes me as kind of a dumb question.