Patterico's Pontifications

8/20/2010

It’s the economy… and LOCUSTS!

Filed under: General — Karl @ 2:03 pm



[Posted by Karl]

Working their way through the Kubler-Ross stages, political scientists and bloggers like Jonathan Bernstein and Ezra Klein are busy promoting the thesis that Pres. Obama and Democrats running for their lives in the 2010 midterms are victims of Vast, Impersonal Forces Beyond Their Control, i.e., the economy. Passing unpopular legislation and insulting most Americans along the way really does not matter. Dan Foster and Jonah Goldberg have already addressed Klein’s version of the argument, so I’ll focus more on Bernstein, who wrote:

It’s not complicated at all: Obama’s approval ratings have fallen because the economy stinks. End of story. Anything else is on the margins…and it’s certainly possible that everything else is pushing his ratings up, not down.

First, the effect that the economy has on the political environment is sufficiently obvious that we do not need political scientists to explain it (though I agree with Bernstein that the media could learn a few things from his field). Second, it will surprise no one that academia was not exactly rushing to excuse the GOP for the poor economy in 2008. Third, one need not be a psychic to predict that if the economy turns around in the next few years, academics and pundits will not be urging the media to report that Obama was lucky that he ran in 2008 and is again lucky in 2012. Such is the genius of the “neutral story line.”

However, perhaps the silliest part of this thesis is that what happens “on the margins” is unimportant. If the GOP wins, say, 60 seats in November, it would be huge — but it would represent less than 15% of the seats in the House. The 2010 midterms will be fought out in a relatively small number of districts. Many of those races will involve shifts of relatively small percentages of voters. The GOP will win the House (or not) “on the margins.”

In these marginal districts, Democrats are losing and Republicans are winning. And the battlegrounds continue to expand. The president’s own pollster, Joel Benenson, reports that voters have clearly rejected the administration’s policies and general approach to governance; those results will be worse in marginal districts than in the solidly blue districts where Democrats are often packed. The Left is finally admitting that Obama’s signature initiative is a political albatross. Bernstein must have missed the memo.

Accordingly, when I read Bernstein, Klein and others advancing the notion that the Democrats’ policy agenda is not dragging them down, I hear the pleading of “Joliet” Jake Blues:

However, the voters in swing districts currently seem less forgiving than Jake’s Mystery Woman.

–Karl

70 Responses to “It’s the economy… and LOCUSTS!”

  1. May I propose that when Ezra Klein is mentioned on this blog, or when any of his writing is linked to, it is prefaced by the statement “26 year old Ezra Klein”? It just never stops amazing me that this untested and not very intelligent child has been granted, for no apparent reason whatsoever, a space and microphone in the WAPO as well as other places– and that anyone pays any attention to his meanderings at all. Didn’t Ezra’s idiocy and mendacity with respect to the ill-conceived and juvenile Journolist teach people anything?

    elissa (846f6f)

  2. “It’s not complicated at all: Obama’s approval ratings have fallen because the economy stinks.”

    It’s not complicated at all: Obama’s approval ratings have fallen because he is a gross incompetent.

    Federal Dog (8dc08a)

  3. Elissa, that is the remarkable thing about Ezra. There’s no real reason why he’s been vaulted up like that. It’s their paper… they are totally trashing its reputation (and yeah, it had one relative to other lefty rags). Sometimes, I get the feeling they want to build up some authorities instead of actually looking for some.

    Ezra’s body of work has been contrary to journalism, that much I am sure of.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  4. Also, I have often noted that a president isn’t in direct control of the economy. Obama isn’t compatible with that argument, though. He’s goen far out of his way to describe his involvement and intrusion over many, many aspects of the economy, to a degree that is pretty scary, actually, because we probably can’t reduce the scope of government without also taking much of the economy away, too, at this point.

    He’s done this, boasting about his economic authority. Time to take responsibility. He should resign, or at least not run. This country is more important than his legacy, and he has to know by now that he’s not up to the task.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  5. Hiring Klein, Sargent, Weigel, etc., it’s fairly apparent the WaPo is using HuffPo as a business model. But that is doomed to fail until they add the HuffPo’s NSFW celebrity coverage.

    Karl (f07e38)

  6. , it’s fairly apparent the WaPo is using HuffPo as a business model.

    I can see some wisdom in this. If these papers coldly calculate that their stature is going to fall greatly to other avenues for general information, they can determine their best future is as niche partisan publications. Kinda like Limbaugh Letters for the left. Weigel in particular just isn’t the serious choice, in a world brimming with great conservatives who would take a paying gig.

    but this seems like a mistake to me. I have often read the Wapo because, over the years, they have attempted to remain a lot more mainstream than the NYT or other blatant shill papers. The Wall Street Journal shows that as papers die out, people still want a good place to get this kind of product. It’s an opportunity for those who read the market correctly.

    If the Wapo retooled their product, a lot of people would buy their paper. At this point, I can’t remember the last time I bothered to see what they were reporting, though. I might as well read Huffpo, as you said.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  7. I think Ezra should be referred to as boywonder. The lengths they will go to to avoid the fact that Barcky is a craptacular president are remarkable.

    JD (fc59fb)

  8. A good nick-name would be “Jimmy Olson”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (8308b7)

  9. BTW Karl, your post and reply to Bernstein, especially your “political albatross” imagery is spot on. I didn’t mean to hi-jack the thread with my Ezra rant. Obviously, the mere mention of his name gets on my last nerve! (as well as on the last nerve of a few others here also, it appears)

    elissa (846f6f)

  10. Thing is, Klein has his brighter spots. Because he fancies himself a wonk, he asked more substantive questions of people like Baucus during the ObamaCare deliberations. I had a discussion with another blogger who said Klein was the worst. My response was, “…compared to…” and reeled off a list of liberal bloggers. Turns out he looks good by comparison. Faint praise, but there it is.

    Karl (877948)

  11. May I propose that when Ezra Klein is mentioned on this blog, or when any of his writing is linked to, it is prefaced by the statement “26 year old Ezra Klein”? It just never stops amazing me that this untested and not very intelligent child has been granted, for no apparent reason whatsoever, a space and microphone in the WAPO as well as other places–

    That’s very true, although Erza is not especially unique in that regard. The process by which certain people get elevated to the political pundit class is quite opaque.

    Conor Friedersdorf comes to mind. Dave Weigel is another. Whatever the process is which selects these people, I don’t think intelligence is much of a factor in it.

    Subotai (018e59)

  12. I’m sure Ezra and the rest of the Juice Box Mafia believe 50 years of bad harvests doomed the Soviet Union as well as the pablum they’re writing today.

    To me, it doesn’t pass the pink face test.

    daleyrocks (940075)

  13. Obama set his own standards for judging him more than a year and a half ago, when his administration published a chart of expected unemployment numbers “with” and “without” their faux stimulus package.

    That the actual economic performance has been worse than the “without” numbers they published is indictment enough.

    Put “Recovery Summer” on top of it, with the recent new wave of layoffs, and Obama’s failure on his own terms is clear.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  14. Barry Baines O’Carter forever! Thew economy will unexpectedly turn around any moment.

    quasimodo (4e8a0a)

  15. But that is doomed to fail until they add the HuffPo’s NSFW celebrity coverage.

    There are substantive questions regarding HuffBlow’s business model actually working. The other Gabor sister is infamous for paying her “contributors” meager wages, if at all. She also refers to her operation’s profits, but has offered no evidence of her financials to prove that claim. I call BS on all of it – just another celebritard vanity project, nothing more.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  16. The president’s own pollster, Joel Benenson, reports that voters have clearly rejected the administration’s policies and general approach to governance. . .

    That’s the key point that liberals are so desperately trying to avoid. Even if the economy recovers, the American people simply do not like Obamacare, they see the cronyism in Obama’s stimulus package (money for teacher’s unions and community organizers!), and it appears that more and more they resent his self-flagellation in atonement for America’s “sins” and his cuddling up to ugly dictators. Two years ago we elected an enigma, a guy who has a talent for making us believe that he is exactly who we want him to be. Now we are seeing exactly who Barack Obama is, and it is not a pretty picture.

    And shame on everyone for dumping on Ezra Klein. Don’t you know that he is smarter, more compassionate, more morally attuned, and generally better than the rest of us? If you don’t believe me, just ask him.

    JVW (eccfd6)

  17. Way to ruin my favorite movie by overlaying your partisan crap on top of it. It is a genius film moment, of course, but sort of like mentioning Nietzsche at a birther convention.

    Chris Hooten (15bd03)

  18. Way to ruin my favorite movie by overlaying your partisan crap on top of it.

    Considering you couldn’t actually argue the points Karl made–your economic ignorance having been exposed time after time after time–it’s fitting that you’d resort crying about Karl RUINING MY FAVORITE MOVIE, YOU HEARTLESS MONSTER.

    That kind of reaction is more suited to overweight nerd-goons complaining about the new Transformers movies totally destroying their childhood memories.

    Another Chris (2e9afa)

  19. JVW @4:21,

    In November 1989 on a weekend I will never forget, we were in NYC. Had tickets for several Broadway plays and had coveted reservations to a couple top restaurants of the day. But we did not even want to leave the hotel room, so riveted were we to TV coverage of jubilant Germans taking sledgehammers to the Berlin Wall. In Nov. of 1989 Ezra was five years old. Obama was 28.

    Ezra had not been born yet in 1976 and Obama was just a freshman in High School when the horrific and deadly Cultural Revolution in China finally ended with the arrest of Mao’s gang.

    For most of us who remember these two contemporaneous 20th century events, we will never again need a reminder about what out-of-control government, bureaucratic policy abuse, confiscation of rights and property, and news management/censorship can do to a once proud population.

    I fear that a chunk of the U.S. population (and Ezra is only an example) who do not have this frame of reference are just unable to see what so many of their fellow citizens know from having lived through it. Ezra and his pals simply do not get why so many of us view the current administration not just as a disappointment, but also as a threat to liberty on multiple levels. ( Everything from Obamacare, to stifling the economy and private enterprise, to non elected non senate-confirmed czars making public policy, to Foreign affairs bungling and refusal to admit that enemies to our survival and way of life actually exist.)

    elissa (846f6f)

  20. Jake Blues — a man who paid his debt to society, then worked his tail off to save a church from the tax collector. And dispatched Illinois Nazis, which is something Glenn Greenwald would never do.

    Glad Chris loves the movie.

    Karl (12dcea)

  21. Well said, elissa. Well said indeed.

    JVW (eccfd6)

  22. Karl: Plus, Jake and Elwood drove around in a car without a catalytic converter.

    JVW (eccfd6)

  23. overweight nerd-goons complaining about the new Transformers movies totally destroying their childhood memories.

    Transformers? Who cares? But don’t get me started on The Thunderbirds

    Some chump (e84e27)

  24. Plus, Jake had a religious epiphany. Just saw it on Retroplex.

    Karl (12dcea)

  25. Only someone of Chrissy’s tender psyche would get so worked up that he’d need to breathe into a paper bag after too much hyperventilating. Yes, these are the types of steely – eyed and mature individuals who are running our country today. No wonder they screech and faint dead away if any of their machinations are questioned.

    Who’s our big girl? Why you are, Chrissy!

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  26. To read crissyhooten whining about partisan anything makes me laugh.

    JD (3dc31c)

  27. Colonel Haiku know
    that deep in his own heart he
    better than Ezra

    ColonelHaiku (60a24c)

  28. Elissa bet that
    Colonel Haiku also a
    lot older than Klein

    elissa (846f6f)

  29. that bullsh*t Hooten!
    Colonel know that your fave film
    is “Brokeback Mountain”

    ColonelHaiku (60a24c)

  30. elissa know that
    male species can age like fine
    wine or vinegar

    ColonelHaiku (60a24c)

  31. The first minute I surfed to this outrageous The End Of Nations commentary my first thought was Patterico’s Pontification blog’s visitors absolutely should be able to comment on this! http://hubpages.com/hub/Global-Union-The-End-Of-Nations

    Bhanu Tiwari (25e4f5)

  32. Why do I get the distinct feeling that link contains a boatload of krazy?

    JD (3dc31c)

  33. A canoe of crazy is never enough.

    Highpockets (adaced)

  34. I’m waiting for them to blame it on hoarders and wreckers. Racist hoarders and wreckers, of course.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  35. That’s hilarious, ColonelHaiku. I’ll give you props for the the Brokeback Mountain one.

    Chris Hooten (c81d94)

  36. Hooterville can’t quit Teh Won.

    Icy Texan (93bbf5)

  37. Like a battered husband, he keeps coming back for more.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  38. Ezra Klein is just part of WaPo’s insecurity with this newfangled Internet thing.

    It is painful for me to watch as a once-respected news outlet continue to debase its only currency, trust. But also hilarious. WaPo’s haughty editorial urging more government control of the student loan business (part of its real money-maker, Kaplan), has comes true, with dire consequences.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  39. It’s still all Bush’s fault!

    Mike Myers (3c9845)

  40. Vast, Impersonal Forces Beyond Their Control

    Sounds like that Health Care bill.

    Amphipolis (e01538)

  41. The WaPo is following, at long last, the movie business fascination with youth and the opinions and writing of people who know nothing but the latest clothing or popular culture fad.

    Elissa, a friend of mine was going to go to Berlin for New Years Eve 1990. I decided I would go, too. Then all sorts of reality kept coming up; would the hotels be jammed, etc., etc. To my eternal regret, I did not go. He didn’t either but his kids went and brought him back a piece of the Wall. A couple of years later, he dropped dead on a treadmill, exercising. I have the feeling that getting that piece of the Wall, even if he wasn’t there, was one of the high points of his life.

    Mike K (d6b02c)

  42. The Party of NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

    daleyrocks (940075)

  43. given the whining
    Colonel hear from Dems they now
    the Party of WAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!

    ColonelHaiku (60a24c)

  44. ==The Party of NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!==

    That intended epithet/moniker has really backfired on the always clueless Libs hasn’t it?

    How funny that according to polls the American voter wants to see a whole lot more of that Whoa NOOOO stuff come November. Who knew the “Party of No” would end up being a campaign talking point conceived, pushed and paid for the Dem PR machine but so working against them with 2010 voters–especially Independents. Thanks Axelrod! Thanks a lot.

    elissa (846f6f)

  45. If you take a look at Real Clear Politics’ Congressional map, you’ll see that — ignoring 33 tossup districts, Republicans stand to win a slight majority of the remainder (203-199).

    Should the Republicans win only half the tossups, they would gain 44 seats and control the House 219-216. If they sweep the tossups (all but one of which is now a D), they would gain 60 seats and control the House by 236-199.

    And God help the Democrats if it slides any more, because there are 28 more seats in the “Leans Dem” category that they could ill afford to lose. IF they lost half of those, we’d be looking at a 70+ seat gain for the Republicans.

    Probably not a lot of Congressmen running ads with images of them and Obama.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  46. Tangential link here:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/obama-to-create-17-new-jobs-by-resigning-and-final,17925/

    Obama to create 17 jobs by resigning and opening a restaurant.

    Heh.

    Aaron Worthing (f97997)

  47. BROTHER BRADLEY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JD (3dc31c)

  48. BROTHER JD!!!!!!!!!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  49. Good to see your name pop up. Hope you are well. Did you get my email?

    JD (3dc31c)

  50. JD,
    Yes, and I replied. Looking forward to Pasadena!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  51. ==The Party of NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!==

    That intended epithet/moniker has really backfired on the always clueless Libs hasn’t it?

    That’s because Americans aren’t as stupid and clueless as the libs *need* to believe they are. Common sense and reality eventually shatters the delusional utopian dreams.

    So then the Party of No flips itself in the new Party of Yes after coming back from the other side of the looking glass. I feel hopeful.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  52. Comment by elissa — 8/20/2010 @ 5:31 pm

    A major marking point in my life was the eleven-months I spent in Pakistan.

    I arrived in late November, 1963, and on the day I was to process-in, all of us in the transient barracks awoke to the news that JFK was dead –
    having been shot in Dallas while we slept.
    (In a way, it was a blessing being over there as we didn’t have to endure the media-fest of his passing.)
    Then, eleven months later, I departed Pakistan on the day that Nikita Khrushchev was deposed as Secretary-General of the Communist Party, CCCP.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  53. Just a few days ago, the “worthlessness” of votes was the headline here. Karl, on the other hand, seems to have a positive view of conservative prospects for November.

    angeleno (7195fb)

  54. Lots of people stepping on rakes these days.

    Icy Texan (efe9a5)

  55. I have been commenting for some time that the question is not whether the Dems lose the House, but what the +/- of 200 will be on their retained seats.
    The trend lines today would lead to the worst election performance by the Dems since (and possibly including) the 1946 mid-terms.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  56. Almost can’t wait to see what the administration hacks’/lamestream media’s manufactured “October surprise” will be this time. Whatever it turns out to be, I’m pretty confident most voters will be able to see it for what it is. And act accordingly.

    elissa (846f6f)

  57. Just a few days ago, the “worthlessness” of votes was the headline here. Karl, on the other hand, seems to have a positive view of conservative prospects for November.

    Republican prospects, you mean.

    And some of us can recall what the results were the last time we gave the GOP the White House, Senate, and House. The conservatives in the party were locked in the attic while the liberals ran riot.

    Subotai (f1eb0a)

  58. I think there are far too many angry people, and unemployed with way too much time on their hands,
    for the GOP establishment to try to take us back to an earlier time with their version of “crony capitalism”.
    Here on the ‘net we hear talk of torches, tar & feathers, etc, all the time,
    but there is a mood about in the country that could make all that talk seem pleasant if the political class fails to deliver what the voters who elect them expect.

    Failed Presidencies tend to devolve into very dangerous times where people have a tendency to “act out”.
    Heaven knows, we have more than enough issues to “act out” about.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  59. AD, my wife was teaching 3rd grade in East LA that day and had to explain to all those Hispanic kids what had happened. I was a medical student. Two years earlier, Krushchev put up the Berlin Wall and interrupted my medical student career as my reserve unit was called up. The kids today, like Klein, have no idea.

    Mike K (d6b02c)

  60. Mike…another point about leaving Pakistan…
    Not only was Khrushchev deposed, but the Chinese exploded their first nuclear weapon 10/16/64.

    I (facetiously) think that World Leaders should consult my travel itinerary before setting off on major policy changes.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  61. 11/22/63…well, if they knew anything about Mexican history, she could have compared it to the asassination of Zapata and quite a few other Mexican leaders.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  62. and why are there so many s’s in assassin?

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  63. AD, There are two asses there, too. Just sayin.

    Mike K (d6b02c)

  64. Mike, we’re being over-run with them.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cf05ff)

  65. Meanwhile, we are heading for the second dip of this great recession.

    If Obama had actually governed as the moderate pragmatist he campaigned as, our finances would be in better shape and business would have more confidence in the future of our economy.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  66. OTOH, I am reminded of the 1998 election that Republicans were supposed to sweep, and they ended up losing seats and having Gingrich resign.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  67. How about they hire an authentic Kenyan witch doctor to do a little jig and add some spice to the hallucinating?

    Have you noticed — Reality and liberals always seemed to have an estranged relationship.

    tarpon (541ea9)

  68. Housing sales dropped even more than expected.

    It is clear that the administration’s pronouncements on the improving state of the economy are beyond wishful thinking and moving into intentional falsehood.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  69. I bought a house with that credit, SPQR. I’m not complaining by any stretch, but I probably could have done much better just to wait until now, saving a percent on the loan and buying in the current market.

    These schemes to ramp up demand only shuffle it around. The piper must be paid. I’m surprised the dems don’t just go all the way with this, and offer credits to coincide precisely with dem control of congress. I shouldn’t give them any ideas. One interesting downside of the housing credit is that it made lower class families who took the credit (it’s a much bigger deal to get $8k and one of those ‘closing cost + down payment’ loans on a $150,000 house than a $450,000 house) are now far less able to relocate to where jobs are more plentiful. that’s poison for the economy.

    It’s even more pronounced, albeit in the other direction, if you want to buy a quality used car. Prices for those are obviously quite a bit up in my area. This also affects those hit harder by the economy, who might need an affordable used car as a practicality of employment.

    These were over politicized steps for short term gains, at obvious expense of the country’s health. Seems like everything is politicized to death these days.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

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