Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another clueless Jonathan

In my last piece, I had a little fun mocking Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine and his rather pathetic attempt to defend the President's "the private sector is doing fine" gaffe. His restatement of Obama's claim again, which he insists is true:
Obama’s argument is that private sector jobs have grown steadily, but overall job growth has been held back by continuous cuts in government employment (which has dragged down private sector growth as well.
Not to be outdone, Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic authored another defense of Obama's words. Cohn's restatement of Obama's claim:
Broadly speaking, the analysis is correct. The private sector has been creating jobs at a steady pace, but the public sector has been shedding them, slowing growth.
The obvious question being begged: who is supplying these two with their arguments, because it's pretty apparent that they're working off of the same talking points? As I already demonstrated, the "job creation" numbers being touted by the President do not demonstrate "steady growth" because they fail to account for population growth. If the latter is taken into account, the growth has been anemic, at best. In fact, the latest numbers don't show growth at all, but exactly the opposite.

Cohn also goes to a great deal of trouble in "proving" that Obama's gaffe cannot rightly be compared to gaffes by others, like McCain and Romney:
Following three months of disappointing job reports and with unemployment still above 8 percent nationally, critics are likening Obama’s statement to Romney’s statement in January of “I like being able to fire people” and, perhaps more ominously, to John McCain’s statement in the fall of 2008 that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong...”  
Still, an intelligent political environment would magnify such statements only when they seem in, thdicative of what a politician actually thinks. McCain’s statement arguably reflected a real problem: His failure to grasp the magnitude or nature of the financial crisis. Romney’s statement about firing people, by contrast, wasn't even about employment. He was simply making a clumsy metaphor about health care.
Frankly, he's on the money with regard to what McCain and Romney said. Romney's was a clumsy metaphor, albeit one that was continuously misrepresented by Cohn's mainstream media cohorts. Including Cohn, himself. From an article by Cohn on January 10th of this year:
Romney never said he enjoys firing people, although the particular choice of phrase does reinforce doubts about Romney's perspectives on the economy.
Got it? Now--when Cohn is at pains to prove the President's statement was not a real gaffe--what Romney said had nothing to do with the economy, per se. It was just a "clumsy metaphor about healthcare." But then--prior to Obama's gaffe--Romney's words were somehow indicative of Romney's understanding of the economy.

Which brings us to the McCain gaffe cited by Cohn. There's little doubt that what McCain said during the 2008 Presidential Campaign was less than wise. Especially since Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy on the same day McCain made the remark. But was McCain wrong, did it reflect his "failure to grasp the magnitude or nature of the financial crisis?" Well, perhaps the best person to answer that question is President Obama, speaking in November of 2009--when the crisis can hardly be said to have been over (the unemployment rate as reported by the less-than-trustworthy Bureau of Labor Statistics was still hovering around 10%)--and offering the following argument:
President Barack Obama said Monday the nation's economy is in good shape for the long term thanks to "core strengths" such as its universities, its innovation and a dynamic workforce. 
"There are core strengths to the American economy that will put us in good stead over the long term," Obama said. He said the key is bridging that gap toward a more prosperous time and promised the gathered reporters he won't let up "until businesses are investing again and businesses are hiring again."
Huh. Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like Obama--in talking about the economy's "core strengths"--is praising some of the economy's "fundamentals." So, the question now being begged is: does Obama's remark in 2009 reflect his failure to fully grasp the extent of the not-just-financial-but-also-economic crisis? I'd have to assume that Cohn would say "yes," if he wanted to be consistent (insert laugh track here).

More likely though, Cohn would probably attempt to "prove" Obama was correct, while McCain was wrong, no doubt via some misdirection or sleight-of-hand. That's the way the Obama panegyrists roll. The one question remaining: which Jonathan is the bigger fool, Chait or Cohn?

Cheers, all.

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