Sunday, February 22, 2009


Frank Rich today on "our" alleged denial problem:

AND so on the 29th day of his presidency, Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill....

"I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems," the president said on Tuesday at the signing ceremony in Denver. He added, hopefully: "But today does mark the beginning of the end."

Does it?

No one knows, of course, but a bigger question may be whether we really want to know. One of the most persistent cultural tics of the early 21st century is Americans' reluctance to absorb, let alone prepare for, bad news.... Obama's toughest political problem may not be coping with the increasingly marginalized G.O.P. but with an America-in-denial that must hear warning signs repeatedly, for months and sometimes years, before believing the wolf is actually at the door....

Steroids, torture, lies from the White House, civil war in Iraq, even recession: that's just a partial glossary of the bad-news vocabulary that some of the country, sometimes in tandem with a passive news media, resisted for months on end before bowing to the obvious or the inevitable....

Regarding "recession": If by "we" Rich means the media and political elite, then, yes -- those people were in denial for too long about the fact that we were in economic trouble.

But I've been over at Polling Report, and the American people knew something was wrong quite a while ago.

* CBS News/New York Times Poll, March 28-April 2, 2008: "Right now, do you think the United States is in an economic recession, or not?"
66% yes, 27% no, 7% unsure

* Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll, May 1-8, 2008: "Do you think we are in an economic recession, or not?"
78% yes, 17% no, 5% unsure

* Quinnipiac University Poll, May 8-12, 2008: "Do you think the United States economy is in a recession now?"
71% yes, 24% no, 5% unsure

That was a reaction to the pinch of high gas prices as well as other signs of money trouble. But ordinary Americans haven't felt good about the economy in years. In the USA Today/Gallup Poll, at least 50% of respondents have said the economy was getting worse in every poll since early March 2005; in all that time, "getting better" has never gotten above 41%, and "getting better" has been consistently below 40% since November 2006. Meanwhile, the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index has been negative since March 2007.

This economy hasn't been good for most Americans for a long time. They knew it; the elite just didn't know they knew it, or didn't care,

No comments: