Saturday, March 28, 2009


Look, I know this Economist cover story is very impressive to right-wing bloggers and Mark Halperin, but I'd take it a bit more seriously if it didn't include nonsense like this:

...if Mr Obama had done a better job of selling his [stimulus] package, and had worked harder at making sure that Republicans were included in drafting it, they would have found it more difficult to oppose his plans.

Look, I know Britain is an ocean away, but it's on the same planet. Obama was never going to get GOP support unless he dropped trou and let John Boehner personally spank him on national television for proposing any stimulus whatsoever that wasn't in the form of tax cuts. This is knowable, even by the British.

And this is just silly:

... polls show that independent voters again prefer Republicans to Democrats, a startling reversal of fortune in just a few weeks. And the fact that Mr Obama’s once-celestial approval ratings are about where George Bush’s were at this stage in his awful presidency.

On the first point, the right-leaning Rasmussen poll started showing the parties approaching parity in the congressional generic-ballot question a week after the November election. Rasmussen gave Democrats a 2-point lead on November 9 -- so why is it a "startling reversal of fortune" when Republicans briefly got to 2 points up on March 15? (Democrats are up by 3 as I type this.)

And as Nate Silver reminds us, it's perfectly normal, not "startling" at all, for the president's party to lose seats in midterms -- the average number of seats lost is 23. (Even Saint Reagan saw his party lose a lot of seats in 1982.)

And Bush's ratings at this time in his "awful presidency" probably weren't awful because he hadn't yet pushed through any legislation controversial enough to be regarded by a significant portion of the electorate as awful -- remember, his first tax-cut bill wasn't signed into law until early June of 2001. Also, remember that the country thought its biggest problems in the pre-9/11 months of 2001 were shark attacks and the fact that Chandra Levy's murderer was still at large.

The rest of this is basically grumbling about the fact that Obama hasn't (a) solved all of America's economic problems already and (b) hasn't single-handedly suppressed all liberalism and capitalist-bashing populism in America. If those were the criteria, I'm sure Obama will be happy to cede The Economist's endorsement to Mark Sanford or Mitt Romney next go-round.

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