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The President's Pottery Barn Economy

Following the release of Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack (and during the worst months of the War in Iraq) the media gleefully seized on a remark used by Colin Powell to warn President Bush about the ultimate consequences of the invasion's failure:

'You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people,' he told the president. 'You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all.' Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.'

This snappy riposte has disappeared from the discussion of that war in the wake of General Petreus' successful surge strategy. However, I think it's time to bring the phrase back as a useful term to describe both the responsibility and consequences that should attach to the Obama administration's handling of the economy.

Last 4th of July weekend Vice President Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos:

"The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy," Biden told me during our exclusive "This Week" interview in Iraq.

Biden acknowledged administration officials were too optimistic earlier this year when they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at 8 percent as part of their effort to sell the stimulus package.

Too optimistic? And who is this "everyone else [who] misread the economy"? It's an important question because this is what Biden told Stephanopoulos last December 19, 2008:

Vice President-Elect Joe Biden said the U.S. economy is in danger of "absolutely tanking" and will need a second stimulus package in the $600-billion to $700-billion range.

"The economy is in much worse shape than we thought it was in," Biden told me during an exclusive interview -- his first since becoming vice president-elect-- to air this Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

As Jennifer Rubin notes, there are two problems at work here:

...But worse than the policy problem [failed stimulus] is the credibility problem. As both Herbert and Boehner point out, the administration has resorted to lying. It is not that the president and his advisors failed to comprehend the magnitude of the economic crisis. It is that they got the solution wrong, and now they refuse to admit the mistake. It may not be long before the Washington press corps start hounding Obama, as they did George W. Bush, to admit "error."

It's obvious by Biden's own words above that the Obama administartion knew exactly how bad the problem was in 2008. They simply prescribed the wrong solution and voters now know it. Vice President Biden is simply betting no one remembers what he said six months ago. It is our pleasure to remind the Vice President and his boss that they too must abide by pottery barn rules: They broke the economy and now they own it.


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Comments (13)

It may not be long... (Below threshold)
It may not be long before the Washington press corps start hounding Obama, as they did George W. Bush, to admit "error."

Wishful thinking on the writer's part. The media as a whole -- to quote Chris Matthews -- get that tingly feeling down their legs, every time he speaks and will not write anything to denigrate that feeling.

There are still some that think that Bush/Cheney are the culprits of the bad economy and there is no way that thinking will change. Herbert Hoover anyone?

No, no, no, Hugh. Wrong ag... (Below threshold)

No, no, no, Hugh. Wrong again! You imply that Barry and Joey are RESPONSIBLE. That word is not in the socialist dictionary. If anything, Barry and Joey are VICTIMS. There was a vast right wing conspiracy to sabotage their efforts. Look how much of that stimulus money went to Democratic strongholds. How much went to Democratic 'pet' projects. How much went to labor unions that support Democratic candidates ........er....a.....ah.....h.....

Right on the money GarandFa... (Below threshold)

Right on the money GarandFan. Responsibility and Accountability are passive words in the liberal dictionary, and thus don't really mean anything when one tries to apply them to the 0. The repubs didn't vote for this, so obviously it is all their fault (and probably Rove and Cheney had something to do with it as well)).

In other words Biddin and O... (Below threshold)

In other words Biddin and Oragama are going to pilfer the treasury for personal gain yet again while simultaneously indebting future generations to pay back the promisorry notes.

Oh the game of Life is so fun.

that's what I get for showi... (Below threshold)

that's what I get for showing up late to a thread! GarandFan did indeed nail it shut!

Barry and Slo Joe are victims...and the only things standing between us and further economic calamity! [even as I typed that I realized that Chris Mathews might read it and need a cold shower!]

The state-run media will do... (Below threshold)

The state-run media will do whatever they can to either remove or minimize, any mention of Obama and Biden's past statements.

No matter what happens, Obama will claim 'I've always said...' and the media will lap it up.

"As I have said, this won't... (Below threshold)

"As I have said, this won't be easy ... "
As Obama leaves the stage. Michelle, Chris
Matthews, Brian Williams sit in the rear of
an empty auditorium, clapping as only hard-
line liberals could. And telling an already
skeptical world on the morrow what a historic presidency this was.

You'll note that Biden told... (Below threshold)

You'll note that Biden told his differing versions of history to the same person. If Steffy isn't going to call him on it, why should we think the rest of the media will be any different?

There is no chance that the... (Below threshold)

There is no chance that the MSM will go after Obama. They have invested everything in him. Also, Obama and Rahm have brought the MSM to heel every time they thought to detect a flicker off message.

The MSM will blame stuff on Bush, ask for Bush investigations, bloviate on Pallin, pontificate on Romney's religion, chorus Obama's line that it would have been worse, etc.

IOW, the MSM will do everything necessary to ignore Toto's pulling aside the green curtain, even to the point of kicking the dog out the door and putting back the curtain themselves.

Welcome to 21st Century Oz.

And what should the Obama ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

And what should the Obama /Biden administration have done HughS? I'm sure I can guess ..In addition, to continuing the Bush government bailout, TARP, your solution, in January, 2009 to the financial meltdown was not financial restructuring or a strong or even weak stimulus program but wait for it... tax cuts for everyone..especially the wealthy.

Though, Obama got his stimulus program passed, it doesn't appear to have been sufficent enough because of resistance from Wall Street to real reforms...Instead we have had a few meaningless cosmetic reforms that have given conservatives the vapors. And..

what to do with banks that have grown not only too big to fail but (according to the Obama administration) too big to be financially restructured?

Financial and capital market liberalization--as well as banking deregulation--contributed to the crisis and to the spread of the crisis from the United States to developing countries. Advanced industrial nations are reluctant to admit that these policies, which they pushed so hard on developing countries, are part of the problem.

Though, Obama got his st... (Below threshold)

Though, Obama got his stimulus program passed, it doesn't appear to have been sufficent enough because of resistance from Wall Street to real reforms

That is ludicrous, Steve. Bring a serious argument or move on.

Obama put together a team o... (Below threshold)

Obama put together a team of players favoring one financial institution over others. It was corrupted from the beginning with Obama's picks. ww

It's almost as if Obama is ... (Below threshold)

It's almost as if Obama is secretly a radical Communist who is trying to crash the American economy so a populist revolution can set up a Communist dictatorship in its place.

But this is real life, and that sort of thing doesn't happen here...






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