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Talking It Down

Since Bill Jempty has already turned on the Way Back Machine, I thought that I would set it back a few years further, to early December 2000 in fact. At that time, the New York Times was reporting:

White House officials have expressed mounting displeasure with repeated warnings from Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney about a possible recession.

Mr. Cheney, after a meeting Thursday with Senator Joseph Lieberman, who was Al Gore's running mate on the Democratic ticket, denied that he and Mr. Bush were being overly pessimistic about the economy for the sake of political gain, especially to increase support for their 10-year, $1.3 trillion tax cut.

"We don't want to talk down the economy, clearly," Mr. Cheney said, "and I think both President-elect Bush and myself have tried to be cautious."

"But there does seem to be a lot of evidence out there that, in fact, the economy has slowed down some," he added. "Whether or not this ultimately results in a recession -- that is, negative real growth -- nobody knows."

It was a terrible, awful thing for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to discuss the wobbly economy that they were about to inherit from Bill Clinton. Perhaps it was because Democrats believed that they possessed such diabolical occult powers. The mainstream media seemed fearful that a mere utterance of doubt by Bush/Cheney would set the financial markets reeling.

Of course he signs were already there -- the meltdown of the NASDAQ, the bursting of the "dot-com bubble," and worries about the appearance of large-scale accounting hanky-panky that would eventually taint everything from corporate profits to the government's own economic growth projections. Yet the phrase "the failed policies of the last eight years" was nowhere to be seen in the mainstream press. It was a priority to preserve the legacy of Bill Clinton and the Democratic party. Besides, every good Democrat knows that only Republican policies cause recessions. Just ask Paul Krugman.

Fast forward to today:

President-elect Barack Obama said the economy seems destined to get worse before it gets better and he pledged a recovery plan "that is equal to the task ahead."

... Obama's interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" was his most extensive since winning the White House more than a month ago.

In the intervening weeks, the economy has showed clear signs of worsening. Employers said they eliminated more than 500,000 jobs in November alone and retailers reported disappointing holiday-season sales.

"The economy is going to get worse before it gets better," he said twice in the early moments of the interview, taped Saturday in Chicago.

Quite an interesting contrast, isn't it?

Now don't get me wrong. We all know that we are in the midst of a severe economic downturn. Yet no one in the mainstream press is accusing President-elect Obama of exploiting the weak economy for political gain. No one believes that he is "talking down" the economy. And apparently no one thinks that the projected one trillion dollar budget deficit is in any way "controversial." Instead, it appears to be the only thing that can guarantee our survival.

I'm convinced that there will be plenty of "talking down" during the next few months, but all of it will be aimed at the Bush Administration. No one will want to talk about the 15 - 20% annual gains in the stock market during the last five years, or unemployment rates that were consistently below 5%, or a budget deficit that shrank by 50% between 2005 and 2007. Those things will be described just as anomalies, accidents, or sheer dumb luck.

As far as the Obama-worshiping mainstream media is concerned, the entire eight year span of Bush Administration economic policies will have given us only the ruinous fourth quarter of 2008, and absolutely nothing else.

Oh, I guess that would be "failed economic policies." Stupid me.

- Michael Laprarie


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