Jewish World Review April 8, 2004/ 17 Nissan, 5764
Enough to drive Democrats to drink
Teddy Kennedy sounds like a man
who needs a stiff drink.
Once the great white hope of the
Democrats and having relegated himself
to great white whale, Teddy is now the
designated doofus for John Kerry,
assigned to campaign for him in places
where Monsieur Kerry can't, won't or
The lot of a Democratic doofus is
suddenly not a happy one. Only
yesterday he could lapse easily into a
lament for "the jobless economic
recovery," the sad plight of the working
man in East Gondola, the unemployed
working mother in West Humperdink
and the millions who go to bed hungry.
"Jobless recovery" was the mantra that
Democrats everywhere lived by. Life
was about to be good, very good.
But then came the blowout job
numbers. The "bad" news released
Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
makes mourning for the recovery as
something irrelevant and relegates the
mantra to the trash. Not only that, as
soon as those millions give up the
Atkins diet to enjoy a crust of good hot
bread, they can go to bed satisfied.
Teddy went off to the Brookings
Institution yesterday to sing sad songs
among the choir, deploring how George
W. Bush has cut unemployment
benefits, failed to pay for schools for
the tykes, tots and teenagers and,
worst of all, is about to spend $134
billion more than expected on a
prescription-drug plan for the elderly
that Teddy himself helped put together.
"This president," he said, "has
created the largest credibility gap since
..." He hesitated ever so slightly here,
as if he was trying to decide whether to
make the comparison to either Hitler or
Attila the Hun. Then the phantom light
bulb flashed on over his imaginary
head. "... since Richard Nixon. He has
broken the basic bond of trust with the
You can't help but feel a twinge of
sympathy for the doofuses, who all
winter had been getting a little help
from their friends in the elite media in
search of bits and pieces of bad news
to produce an unvarying tone of
gloomy mood music to go with a manufactured landscape of
deep shade and dark shadow. Why wouldn't the
public-opinion polls suggest that half the American public
think the country is mired in recession?
The purveyors of melancholy certainly know better. The
recession that began in the late months of the second Clinton
administration actually ended just after September 11, and by
the end of 2003, the economy was booming at a rate of more
than 6 percent annually. You have to go back to the Reagan
years to find numbers like that. The Club for Growth
researched the so-called "misery index," determined by
adding the inflation rate and the unemployment rate, to
calculate a figure for the past six presidential election years.
Jimmy Carter, to no one's surprise, set a misery standard
that is likely to stand until the Rockies crumble, Gibraltar falls
and the Chicago Cubs win the National League pennant. The
misery index stood at 20.6 percent in March 1980, which was
all Ronald Reagan needed to send Mr. Jimmy home to his
peanut patch. An unfavorable misery index preceded the
defeat of Gerald Ford (13.5 percent) and George H.W. Bush
(10.5 percent) as well.
But here's the surprise: The misery index for George W.'s
administration is lowest of all six of those worthies. George
W. inherited the Clinton misery index of 8.4 percent and has
shaved it (so far) to 7.7 percent. You just wouldn't know it
from the coverage of the economy. The Wall Street Journal
calls it "the Rodney Dangerfield recovery" because, as Rodney
might say, "it don't get no respect."
But that's only among the doofuses and the media elites.
What has actually happened is that the economic markers
have surpassed those set during the second Clinton term,
which usually is presented as the greatest four years in the
history of the republic. The stock markets, which went south
with the pricking of the dot.com boom, have grown by a little
more than a third since the peak set in 2000 and, taken
together with surging home prices, have set a record for
family net worth. The stunning jobs growth in March marks
the seventh consecutive month of jobs gains, with 61 percent
of American factories showing payroll expansion. This, too, is
the highest percentage since July 2000.
Teddy had to abandon the mantra of "jobless recovery" in
his remarks yesterday and lapsed into warmed-over antiwar
jive talk from the Vietnam era. Soup as thin as that cries for a
lot of strong drink.
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