The reason we know that the questioners are incompetent reporters is that this is a pointless question. Suppose your house is on fire and the firefighters race to the scene. They set up their hoses and start spraying water on the blaze as quickly as possible. After the fire is put out, the courageous news reporter on the scene asks the chief firefighter, "is the house in better shape than when you got here?"
Yes, that would be a really ridiculous question. Hence George Stephanopoulos was being absurd when he posed this question to David Plouffe, a top political adviser to President Obama on ABC's This Week. Bob Schieffer was being equally silly when he asked Martin O’Malley, the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, the same question on CBS's Face the Nation.
A serious reporter asks the fire chief if he had brought a large enough crew, if they had enough hoses, if the water pressure was sufficient. That might require some minimal knowledge of how to put out fires.
Similarly, serious reporters would ask whether the stimulus was large enough, was it well-designed, and were there other measures that could have been taken like promoting shorter workweeks, as Germany has done. That would of course require some knowledge of economics, but it sure makes more sense than asking if a house is better off after it was nearly burnt to the ground.
The reality is of course that the Village is there to pick a fight, because a fight sells copy, pageviews, and clicks.
We're asking if President Obama hasn't rebuilt the house yet after the Republicans burned it down. The house is in the process of being rebuilt, but of course it's just not good enough for some.
And yes, I can appreciate being in a position where the long game of a second Obama term doesn't matter so much when you're not sure how you're going to pay the rent this month or feed the kids or get to work tomorrow because the car's not starting. Been there. Very recently.
But choosing to do 1) nothing or 2) hand it back to the Republicans isn't going to help. If anything, it's handing the gas can back to the pyros who started the fire in the first place. It's a pretty rough patch for a lot of Americans, I know. I know guys who have fallen off the 99 week cliff. But you keep trying. You know what's not helping you, too. The GOP? Not working at all. Fired up, indeed.