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You Just Move Over, Fred Barnes!

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Shorter Designated Republican Stenographer Jennifer Rubin:  “George Bush was the greatest.  With notably rare exceptions, there were no terrorist attacks on the American homeland when George W. Bush was president.  And hundreds of thousands dead and trillions of dollars spent attacking a country that posed no threat whatsoever to the United States is nothing compared to the horrors of the deficit.  And don’t kid yourself, George W. Bush hated deficits.  You think there would be unfunded wars or corporate boondoggles* with him in the White House?  Please.”

*Verbatim Jen Rubin: “He is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D.”  I swear.   This is performance art, right?  Almost every line could be a “verbatim” bit.

…a prebuttal.

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  • Todd

    Bush’s hatred for deficits was almost Reaganesque.

    • would that it were but the truth is, reagan actually was willing to raise taxes when it turned out the supply-siders were full of it (which is, of course, why he could never be nominated today, despite the reagan hagiography industry).

      • Todd

        Well, I did write “almost”.

        How about: For an 18-month period Reagan’s hatred for deficits was Bushesque

        • accepted!

        • However, his tax raises never managed to equal the amounts of his deficit spending.

          • howard

            agreed: it’s not that reagan was an old-fashioned eyeshade republican, but when practice didn’t equal theory, he didn’t double down on theory, he adjusted practice, and therefore was nowhere near as irresponsible as bush.

            • an old-fashioned eyeshade republican

              A mythological creature closely related to the jackalope: one that exists only in the workshops of taxidermists with a wry sense of humor.

              • Hogan

                Nah, they’re not imaginary like unicorns. They’re extinct like dinosaurs.

                • howard

                  that’s the right answer!

      • Sly

        Well, in fairness, Reagan was only our third most Reaganesque President.

        • Warren Terra

          A very clever line, but I can’t figure out who the second was. Unless its Zombie Reagan, or The Reagan Who Is Yet To Come.

          • Altoid

            Twelver Reaganism! Gotta love it–

            • rea

              Hic iacet Reaganus, rex quondam, rexque futurus

          • elm

            Clinton? I think that’s wrong, but I have heard worse arguments made in comment threads here.

  • JKTHs

    And, it turned out that the triumvirate of Iraq-Iran-North Korea really was the Axis of Evil. Unlike the current president, who’s played politics with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, President Bush took huge political risks to back the surge in Iraq, which worked. He is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D. He did not foist a grandiose unpopular and exorbitant program like Obamacare on the public. And then there were his tax cuts, 99 percent of which were approved by the most liberal president in history. Even the TARP program, reviled by conservatives, can be credited with helping to calm the markets and stabilize financial institutions.

    Rubin needs to be shifted to The Onion ASAP

    • Unholy Moses

      This is the bestest:

      “… 99 percent of which were approved by the most liberal president in history.”

      Wait — FDR voted to approve the Bush tax cuts?! Why were we not informed of this?

      • rm

        She means “the president with the darkest skin.” Implementation of Republican-authored plans, when done by a black Democrat, becomes a practically communist position.

      • Anna in PDX

        God she is a hack. There is no universe in which Obama is even as liberal as frigging Eisenhower, let alone Carter, Johnson, FDR…

        • Warren Terra

          Carter is remembered as some kind of wacky hippie, but that’s right-wing agitprop. I’m not sure where you’d find the evidence he was particularly liberal; on domestic policy (though not tone), I don’t even know if he was to the left of Nixon.

          • Anna in PDX

            Huh – with my background in foreign policy and my age (was a very young kid when he was pres) I guess I am not entirely aware of his domestic policy and how it compares to other presidents, but if we are talking overall, I think his foreign policies are different in scale if not in kind from other presidents of the modern era and he is overall more liberal than Obama.

            • Warren Terra

              I was far too young to be paying attention when Carter left office, but even on foreign policy his liberal props have been overrated. He was a squish when it comes to encouraging right-wing anticommunist regimes in the Third World, compared to other Cold War presidents and especially to his immediate predecessor and successor – but then, those two administrations were gleefully wading hip-deep in the blood of innocents when it comes to that issue, and its not clear Carter’s rhetoric was made effective policy. More generally, Carter talked a good game on human rights, but the only concrete effect I know of is that he didn’t try to rescue the (probably hopeless) cause of the Shah in Iran.

              Even on foreign policy, I suspect Carter’s reputation as a liberal is far more about mannerisms than policy, with a lot deriving from his restrained response to Iranian hostage-taking and his willingness to sit down with Sadat. Substantively: the cold war kept going, Carter started a military build-up that Reagan continued and for which Reagan is lauded by his fans, and Carter started a merry little proxy war in far-off Afghanistan (later gratefully increased by the Reagan Administration), the long-term effects of which have not been an unalloyed good.

              • firefall

                *cough*Panama Canal*cough*

                • Warren Terra

                  Fair point.

                • DocAmazing

                  He also quit supporting Somoza in Nicaragua due to human rights concerns. That’s head and shoulders above Reagan; heck, we’re still good buddies with Pakistan’s ISI, despite its many, many evil deeds.

                • Snarki, child of Loki

                  Will John McCain ever forgive Carter for giving away his birthplace? I hope not.

              • Anna in PDX

                Yes and you can add East Timor to Carter’s legacy of shame, but I said “in scale if not in kind” for that very reason.

  • liberal

    “He is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D.”

    What makes it worse is that people like Dean Baker claim Med part D has been cheaper than predicted not because it’s worked so well, but rather because projections assumed more new drugs coming out of pharma pipelines that would command high, patent-protected prices than actually occurred.

    • JKTHs

      This. Part D is inefficient relative to what it could be if HHS could negotiate drug prices.

    • Tyto

      What makes it even worse is that Part D didn’t even pretend to attempt to lower costs, and outright prohibited bargaining with drug companies for volume discounts.

  • Hogan

    7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity

    Which was so awesome it took six whole months to wipe it out. But let’s not judge the rest of the dinner harshly just because there was cyanide in the coffee.

    • JKTHs

      Even then, ya know, there was this whole 2001 recession, which I guess was part of the jobs growth and propserity. Plus a two-year-long jobless recovery where unemployment basically stayed flat. Plus a really weak expansion after that.

      The good ole days!

      • timb

        Not to mention the recession in 2001 BEFORE 9/11 actually started in March of 2011.

        Shorter Rubin: Bush was awesome because he helped build an economy based upon massive financial bubbles

    • Malaclypse

      7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity

      I mean sure, the 2001 recession took 44 months to get employment back to pre-recession levels, and we got there by creating a housing bubble, which led to an even worse recession, but with those notable exceptions, job growth!

      • Hogan

        So OK, there was also cyanide in the soup, the fish was off and the ribeyes were charred. But the green beans were steamed just perfectly.

        • Dad taught him not to eat the broccoli

    • R. Porrofatto

      7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity

      What on earth is she talking about? The net increase in jobs during George W. Bush’s administration is less than zero (-1,7 million). More jobs have been created during the current depression under Obama than in all of Bush’s tax-cuts=job-creation tenure.

      • Boots Day

        For the 96 months of Bush’s presidency, counting February 2001 through January 2009, the economy suffered a net loss of jobs in 39 of those months. We had net job losses every single month from March 2001 through May 2002, and again from February 2008 through the end of the Bush administration in January 2009 (along with several other periods of job losses as well).

        There is simply no way even the wingiest of wingnuts can spin that into “7 1/2 years of job growth.” Does the Washington Post have an ombudsman? An editor? Any grownups at all working there?

        • BigHank53

          Stop asking impertinent questions about the Ministry of Truth, or that van from the Ministry of Love will come around to your house later this week.

        • Anonymous

          The WaPo no longer has an ombudsman. The last one left about a month ago, and in his farewell column he said that the Post was not replacing him. So, no, there are no longer any grown ups in charge at the Post.

        • firefall

          Careful what you say, Mr Buttle.

    • ajay

      7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity

      Well, I would say this – I’ve been working here for 18 years, and in 1975 no one died. In 1976, no one died. In 1977, no one died. In 1978, no one died. In 1979, no-one died. In 1980… some one died. In 1981, no one died. In 1982 there was the incident with the pigeon. In 1983, no one died. In 1984, no one died. In 1985, no one died. In 1986… I mean, I could go on.

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Day_Today

      • Anna in PDX

        That sounds like it was a great show. Thanks.

    • calling all toasters

      “Other than that, how did you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

      Rubin: “SHE LOVED IT!”

  • Book

    But he was a charismatic leader who made us feel SAFE!

    • He was? News to me.

      • efgoldman

        Heh. I always felt we needed protection from Shrub and his cronies, much more than from any foreign threat.

        • Hogan

          Help! It’s the police!

      • Book

        Obama needs to lift the embargo on sarcasm.

        So many Europeans’ jokes are going to waste.

  • there were no terrorist attacks on the American homeland when George W. Bush was president

    Say what?

    • JKTHs

      9/11 doesn’t count. How could Bush have possibly known that was gonna happen?

      • Malaclypse

        Neither do the anthrax mailings, which never happened. Or were they Clinton’s fault?

        • NonyNony

          Or the DC sniper attacks.

          But of course when Rubin says “terrorist” she means “scary Mooslim terrorist”. So if you use her definition of terrorist it’s still wrong, but not as wrong as it is if you think words should have meaning.

          • John

            John Muhammad wasn’t a scary Mooslim?

        • Jay in Oregon

          If it was Clinton, he’s also responsible for the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002.

        • c u n d gulag

          Yes, it was all Clinton’s fault.
          Or Obama’s.
          Or the Democrats in Congress.

          Apparently, to the rightie mind, the W Presidency started with the invasion of Afghanistan, and ended with his reelection in 2004.

          So, that was what? A good three-year run?

          Everything before the invasion, and after his reelection, was the fault of the Democratic President before him, and the one who followed him, and the Democrats in Congress.

          Rubin isn’t even doing Performance Art.
          She does what sells to Conservatives – writing any and every thing that pisses-off the Liberals – facts be damned.

          • c u n d gulag

            Correction:
            Upon further reflection, W’s Presidency began with his bullhorn moment in NY City.

            And who can forget the first really great act of his Presidency – while wearing a vest, he threw a fastball strike when he went out to throw out that first pitch.

            Sweet dreams, were made of this.

            • I was working at the WTC site, and our actual work had to stop for nearly five hours because of the security precautions for that fucking bullhorn moment. There are no words to describe the depth of my hatred for that buffoon.

              • Cheap Wino

                Kind of like the Jackson Square in New Orleans speech where they brought in massive generators and an expensive light show while the rest of the city was still dark and suffering.

                • Very much like.

            • gocart mozart

              It began the day after 9/11 and stopped shortly before Katrina only to restart for that one day when Bin Laden was killed.

          • Monkeyfister

            I am getting the impression that the Right doesn’t really believe that George W. Bush even existed. They fell asleep in January 2001, with Clinton in the White House, and woke up and the black guy was in there… TRAGEDY!!!

            But, in their slumber, they all had this dream of some guy named Bush as President, and all their favorite Grandpas were helping him. And they all got to kick a lot of hippies.

          • firefall

            Not performance art – she’s honing her skills as Remote Troll, and its working.

      • c u n d gulag

        And, by the way, Jen-Ru, isn’t saying there were no successful attacks after 9/11, like saying, “Well, except for that unfortunate incident, Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy the rest of your trip to our fair city of Dallas?”

        You might think the WaPo might be embarassed, but then, you look at the Op-ed Editor, and some of the other contributors, and you realize that the “embarassed” train left that station a long, long, time ago.

    • I think a case could be made that his entire Presidency was a terrorist attack on the homeland, from the destruction of infrastructure alone.

  • They at least waited until Nixon was dead before they started rewriting history

  • Bitter Scribe

    Of course, if, God forbid, America should suffer a terrorist attack as catastrophic as 9/11, the country will rally around Obama just like it rallied around Bush, right?

    And people like Rubin would never dream of using such a tragedy to score cheap political points, right?

    Right?

    • JMP

      Benghazi!!1!

    • timb

      Hell, they were using to score points in the mid-term elections the next year.

  • That op-ed is a treasure trove of stupidity, but I agree with this:

    And in the “polarizing” category, Obama is far worse.

    The country was in wide agreement about Bush’s lack of merit.

  • With notably rare exceptions, there were no terrorist attacks on the American homeland when George W. Bush was president.

    In the Air Force we used to say one “Oh shit!” cancels a hundred “Attaboys!”.

  • Jesse Levine

    The column reads like a story in The Onion. But as long as we insist on ignoring the past and “looking forward”, the narrative will gain traction.The current generation probably understands viscerally what a disaster Bush was, but that’s not the way history is written. The facts must be recalled and revisited periodically.

  • sadly, i think it’s too much to hope for jennifer rubin to be a leading indicator for the gop on this one, much as i’d like to see the republican party defend bush 43.

    however, i did decide that maybe i should look up rubin’s bio: i’ve been assuming that she was, at most, a 30-something nitwit, but no, she’s actually old enough to know better! the best part of reading the bio was to discover that her career – if i dare call it that – in journalism began with a puff piece on mitt romney she pitched to the standard!

  • Joshua

    Unlike Obama’s tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11.

    I will never understand how Republicans got away with moving the goalposts like this.

    “Somebody was President on 9/11/2001, we just don’t know who! Probably Clinton.”

    • Malaclypse

      And it isn’t even true, even with that notable exception. Anthrax happened. It really did.

      • notice, though, malaclypse, that she’s playing a word game (i learned in my bio search that she used to be an attorney!): she’s talking about an attack on the “homeland,” not on “americans.”

        as a side note, i find it especially strange that rubin, who finds anti-semites everywhere, uses a phrase like “homeland” seriously, which always strikes me as the kind of terminology the nazis liked….

        • You’re just asking for a visit from the Heimatlandsekuritaetsburopolizei, comrade.

          • stickler

            More properly it would probably be rendered Heimatssicherheitshauptamt, the obligatory acronym rendered as HSHA. They actually did have a Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA, after all.

      • Hogan

        But no one actually got anthrax, so we’ll just call that one “unsuccessful” and move on to Benghazi.

        • Weren’t there some postal workers who did, in fact, get anthrax, and some died of it?

          If I recall, none of the intended targets suffered any physical harm, but there were people who actually got anthrax.

          • witless chum

            22 got it, five died. They were: a guy who worked at the National Enquirer, two postal workers and two people who seem to have gotten it randomly.

          • Hogan

            My bad. Five dead (including someone who worked at a paper association with the National Enquirer, which got one of the letters, so arguably a target) and seventeen more infected. I shouldn’t even pretend to defend Rubin.

            • Hogan

              association s/b associated

          • ajay

            Weren’t there some postal workers who did, in fact, get anthrax, and some died of it?

            Yes. Five people: one journalist at Sun (sister paper to the National Enquirer), two postal workers, and two others who had no obvious link to the attacks.

        • gocart mozart

          There was an old lady in Oxford, CT who died from an anthrax letter, also I think a postman or two.

      • SamR

        More notably rare exceptions off the top of my head include the LAX airport shootings and the DC snipers.

        A more exhaustive list of the notably rare:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_the_United_States#2000s

        • Anonymous

          and the army base in Texas

    • JKTHs

      Also, it’s not as if Republicans haven’t been crowing in unison every time there’s a FAILED terrorist plot about how Obama’s bowing down before the Muslims is endangering us all.

  • Boots Day

    I have to give her credit for coining a phrase like “fiscally sober,” which basically means whatever you want it to mean but sounds impressive to the gullible.

    • efgoldman

      Doesn’t it mean she can’t even afford cheap beer?

      • Keaaukane

        Or boxed wine? Great FSM, Althouse has a better grip on reality than Rubin.

    • R. Porrofatto

      Fiscally sober? After turning a $240 billion surplus into a record $415 billion deficit they should have given George a breathalyzer test when the pretzel knocked him off the couch.

      • JKTHs

        What are you talking about? All that was Clinton’s doing. Then he dropped the deficit to $160 billion before the libruls in Congress blew it up again.

    • BigHank53

      Fiscally sober, when translated from the original wingnut, means: spends money on things I like.

  • Federal debt outstanding, 2000: 35% of GDP.

    Federal debt outstanding, 2007: 36% of GDP.

    Oh, those terrible Bush deficits!

    Some days, the Team D chorus around here is as indifferent to facts as the cheerleaders on the other side.

    • JKTHs

      Fucking context, how does it work?

      When do you have debt projected to go to zero and it ends up at 40% of GDP, that’s no accomplishment.

      • We might contemplate the question of whether federal debt of zero is at all desirable. The benefits of lower debt are a bit in dispute right now, as you might have noticed.

        But in any case, even if you think that lower federal debt is always and everywhere desirable, note that most of the shift from surplus to deficit happened before any of the Bush tax cuts took effect. In 2002, with tax rates still where they were at the end of the Clinton administration, the federal balance had already gone from a 2.5 point surplus to a 1.5 point deficit.

        One of the symptoms of mindless Dem partisans is that they know an exceptionally weak economy is responsible for the rise in deficits under Obama, but forget that an exceptionally strong economy is responsible for most of the surplus under Clinton.

        • Hogan

          In 2002, with tax rates still where they were at the end of the Clinton administration, the federal balance had already gone from a 2.5 point surplus to a 1.5 point deficit.

          Because of a recession. To which Bush responded by cutting taxes, mostly on high earners. Which made the deficit worse without ending the recession, which went on making the deficit worse. So he cut taxes some more.

          Maybe we’re not the only mindless partisans around.

          • JKTHs

            Plus some of the tax cuts (particularly the rebates) were already in effect by then. Plus Afghanistan spending.

            I know that Clinton’s surpluses were clearly aided by the strength of the tech boom but Bush was aided by the housing bubble and yet was still left with about a 4 percentage point of GDP swing from Clinton’s peak.

            • howard

              btw, jkths, don’t accept the right-wing framing on tech revenues and the clinton surpluses. i’ll try and get back to this when i have more time, but the contribution of marginal tech-related capital gains to the overall surplus was only something along the lines of 10% of the total shift in fiscal position.

              • JKTHs

                Well I see from CBO that even ignoring cyclical factors, there still would have been surpluses in all four years.

                Perhaps I used too strong language in the previous response. Right wingers try to make it sound like Clinton would have had deficits as large as Bush without the 90s economy. It helped (as any full employment economy would) but was not the overriding factor.

                • howard

                  that’ll do!

          • Brandon

            did the tax cuts make the recession worse? It’s my (novice) understanding that tax cuts may be an inefficient form of stimulus, but that they’re still stimulus.

            • Hogan

              I said they made the deficit worse, not the recession; but the way the distribution was skewed made it unlikely that they would help with the recession.

        • howard

          sheesh you’re a joke.

          no one here has uttered a word of support in favor of the proposition that the proper budget deficit is always and everywhere zero.

          no one here has uttered a word of support in favor of the proposition that there is never a reason to have any national debt.

          but everyone here in one way or another is arguing context: what is a correct policy at one point is an incorrect policy at another.

          this is why lord keynes advised us, among other things, that the point was to be in budgetary balance across the business cycle, so that we do run deficits when the economy is weak and we run surpluses when the economy is strong.

          it was entirely within bush’s power to run a more responsible fiscal policy while still responding to recession; he and his party chose not to and your little word games don’t change that.

          p.s. yes, the clinton surpluses benefitted from a strong economy. the strong economy benefited from low interest rates. the low interest rates kicked in when clinton – without a single republican vote – increased taxes, instituted paygo, and ended the reagan/bush deficit problem that was being reflected in higher-than-justified-by-inflation long interest rates.

          so what’s your point?

    • howard

      which would all be very cute if it weren’t for the fact that we imposed significant incremental increases in the payroll tax precisely to reduce debt held by the public, in order to create the headroom for the baby boomer’s social security payments.

      so what did bush do? he claimed that the fact that we were running an intended surplus meant that government was “overcharging” and therefore he converted the social security surplus into a basis for tax cuts heavily loaded at the high end.

      he implemented medicare plan d in the most expensive way imaginable without a revenue source.

      he engaged in two wars on the credit card and demonized any attempt to suggest that we, you know, should pay for a war of choice in real time.

      and thereby quite rightly earned the designation as the most fiscally irresponsible president in history.

      and your attempt to play games with a number that was supposed to go down and not up and act like it means bush really was fiscally sober? it’s pathetic.

      • If “playing games with numbers” means actually looking at them, then yes, I guess that is what I am doing.

        Partisan morality tales don’t make good history.

        • howard

          surely, jwmason, that’s not an answer.

          your claim is that we’re supposed to be impressed that debt as a percentage of gdp didn’t jump enormously.

          the factual counter is that debt as a percentage of gdp was supposed to fall enormously during the bush years.

          do you have a counter to that? or have you just learned to say, when you don’t have a coherent argument, that “partisan morality tales don’t make good history,” which, whatever its meaning as a cluster of words has absolutely nothing to do with what i wrote.

          • My points:

            1. Most of shift toward surplus under Clinton was the result of the tech boom and a period of unusually rapid income growth. Most of the shift toward deficit was a result of the end of those favorable macroeconomic conditions, and happened before any Bush tax cuts took effect. There is no reason to think that this was the result of policy.

            2. The deficits under Bush were comparable to those under administrations of both parties in the 1960s and 1970s, and substantially smaller than under Reagan or Obama.

            3. In general, macroeconomic conditions are much more important for changes in the federal debt than is policy, for good or for ill. And Bush is no more responsible for the fact that macro conditions were worse in the 2000s than in the 1990s, than Obama is for the fact that macro conditions are worse now than before 2008.

            4. There is no particular reason to think that lower federal debt is in general a good thing. And boasting that the Democrats are the party of surpluses is bad messaging — tax-and-don’t-spend is even less popular than tax-and-spend. So using surplus vs. deficit to judge economic policy is politically foolish as well as wrong on the facts.

            (For the record, I’m on the left and voted for Obama twice.)

            • howard

              point 1 is wrong, period. 22 million jobs were created during the clinton administration, and they were not all high-income tech jobs by any stretch of the imagination.

              point 2 continues to evade the point: the reason that the bush numbers look comparable to some other administrations is because the bush years benefit (and this, unlike point 1, was a real benefit) from the prefunding of baby boomer social security. there should have been surpluses from 2003 or 2004 on, even given the recession.

              point 3 is blather: macroeconomic conditions don’t exist completely independently of fiscal and monetary policy. there may, indeed, be a structural macroeconomic problem that began to manifest itself in the 2001-2 recession that relates to job creation, but that is not a sufficient explanation for the poor fiscal performance of the bush administration, which made the choices it made – excessive tax-cutting, unfunded medicare plan d, unfunded wars – in full awareness of the macroeconomic climate.

              point 4 has nothing to do with this conversation at all, and while i don’t disagree with your contention that being overly obsessive about federal debt is not a good thing, so what? why is that relevant to whether or not bush was the most fiscally irresponsible president in history?

              your biographical note doesn’t improve the quality of your arguments.

            • Anna in PDX

              Who cares who you voted for? I fail to understand why people even do this. You have arguments, they either make sense or they don’t, and your word as to who you are, on an anonymous internet forum, thereby unfalsifiable and purely a matter of faith, is irrelevant.

        • (the other) Davis

          If “playing games with numbers” means actually looking at them, then yes, I guess that is what I am doing.

          Yes, you’re clearly not cherry picking the numbers:

          Federal debt outstanding, 2001: 32.5%
          Federal debt outstanding, 2008: 40.2%

          Oops!

          • If you are going to hold Bush responsible for the rise in the deficit once the recession began, you also should hold Obama responsible for the much higher deficits under his administration. If you want to get at the effects of policy, ending in 2007 is a no-brainer.

            • Malaclypse

              If you want to get at the effects of policy obfuscate on counter-cyclical spending policies, ending in 2007 is a no-brainer.

              Fixed.

            • sharculese

              If you are going to hold Bush responsible for the rise in the deficit once the recession began, you also should hold Obama responsible for the much higher deficits under his administration.

              I agree. We should definitely hold Obama responsible for having to pick up the pieces for his predecessor’s failures. It’s only fair.

            • howard

              honestly, it’s like your brain just can’t process information, jwmason.

              again, the case against bush consists of 3 points: excessive tax-cutting, unfunded medicare plan d, and unfunded wars.

              which of those is comparable to anything any other administration ever did? as i noted earlier, reagan’s initial tax-cutting was excessive, but he then raised taxes, as did bush 41, in at least a partial response.

              reagan’s defense spending boom was irresponsible, but not to the same degree as the wars in afghanistan and iraq and, as i noted, at least he was prepared to increase revenues.

              and reagan didn’t add medicare plan d without funding.

              lbj tried to have guns and butter by hiding the costs of vietnam, but that was a brief attempt, and it ended with a tax hike to pay for vietnam.

              and i can’t think of any other comparables.

            • (the other) Davis

              If you want to get at the effects of policy, ending in 2007 is a no-brainer.

              Right, because the economic clusterfuck that began in 2008 was totally random, and not at all connected to policy choices.

              And you continue to conveniently ignore the fact that you also picked 2000 as your starting point. That pretty much tells me all I need to know about whether you are a good-faith participant in this conversation.

            • Anna in PDX

              Didn’t the recession beginning in 2008 have something to do with his policies from 2000 to 2007? Or was it like an asteroid striking his presidency?

        • timb

          Well, if you think that, you should stay away from most history books

      • R. Porrofatto

        so what did bush do? he claimed that the fact that we were running an intended surplus meant that government was “overcharging”

        Ah yes, the good old days. When George ridiculed Gore’s ‘lockbox” and told us it was “yore munna” and then squandered it on billions in tax cuts and breaks for corporations and rich folk that was supposed to create jobs and then didn’t. Unfortunately, I remember it well.

        • catclub

          That’s not true. He also squandered it on the Iraq war. And if 9/11 had not come along, then ABM systems out the wazoo were coming. Remember the abrogation of that treaty? Innocent days.

    • mpowell

      What are you talking about? Do you really want to advance the argument that Bush was fiscally responsible? The post WWII trend was for the debt to drop as % of GDP. Reagan reversed this and Bush I and II followed suit. Obama is the first Democratic to do so as he inherited Bush II’s mess. 2000-2007 was a period of net real growth which should have corresponded to a reduction in debt as a % of GDP, but due to Bush’s irresponsible war spending, debt increased. And then it increased vastly more when the recession hit. Maybe 35% of GDP is actually too low as a long term target, but I don’t know anyone on the right advancing that argument consistently. Certainly Bush’s fiscal stimulus did not lead to much real growth.

      What are you trying to argue here? That Bush was more fiscally responsible than Clinton or Obama? That’s the idea Rubin is advancing that’s being mocked. Maybe looking at gross debt/GDP numbers isn’t the best measure to compare 2 or 3 presidents, but if we go to actual policy, what do you actually have to offer in Bush’s defense? We can debate whether Bush II was worse than Reagan or Bush I, but that is only barely relevant to the question of the integrity (or lack thereof) of Rubin’s party boosterism.

    • The joys of cherry-picking particular points.

      Debt-to-GDP ratios:
      1993.Q1 (Clinton inaugurated): 48.7%
      1994.Q1 beginning of when Clinton’s budgetary priorities have any meaning: 49.7%
      2001.Q1 (GW Bush inaugurated): 33.8%
      2002.Q1 (beginning of when Bush’s priorities are relevant): 32.8%
      2006.Q1: 37.0%
      2008.Q2 (the last quarter before the recession really took hold):36.6%
      2010.Q1 (beginning of Obama’s priorities mattering): 58.1%

      So the best we can say about Bush fiscally is that from 2006 to 2008, when the economy was not in recession and unemployment was relatively low and he wasn’t starting any new wars, he kept the debt growing roughly at the same rate as GDP. Which isn’t bad, but pales in comparison to what Clinton accomplished.

      (Data source: research.stlouis.org/fred2; still don’t know how to put in a link for the pretty chart I made.)

    • Anna in PDX

      Sorry but when did Bush leave office? Who was president from 2008 to 2009?

      • gocart mozart

        Bush was President in 2008 (you could look it up) Obama was President starting in Jan 20, 2009 but I think what Karl is referencing is that the 2009 budget was passed in 2008 when again, Bush was still President. Di I got that right Karl?

        • I was trying to make the most charitable case for Bush. When you get a recession/depresseion like the one we got/have, your debt is going to go bad. That’s why I included the 2008.Q2 point, to give an indication of Bush’s performance separate from the recession. Obama was elected in Nov. 2008. He wasn’t president until January, 2009. He got a stimulus bill through but only part of that actually went into effect in 2009. The basic federal budget was still the one Bush signed the previous fall. By the beginning of 2010, you’re into the period when you’re really talking about Obama–though of course he still had to work with Congress, not being a dictator and all.

          And there’s the question of the proper response to a massive recession, to which a perfectly reasonable answer is, Expand the deficit.

        • Anna in PDX

          Oh yes I understand that, it was a rhetorical question addressed to JWMason who used “2000-2007” as his time period of evaluation.

  • sibusisodan

    Only when we see a robotic, cold president like Obama do we remember fondly the tender, tearful love of country Bush often conveyed and the steely anger directed at our enemies.

    She writes good fantasy. I commend the rest of the paragraph to the house as well.

    ..and also this:

    Bush’s shortcomings (misreading Putin, leaving office without dealing with Iran, some excess in domestic spending) are evident.

    As part of a list of Bush’s actual shortcomings, where would those place?

    And I’m aware that logic and facts aren’t friends with that column, but how can one chastise Obama for apparently not dealing with rogue states, but then say that Bush failing to do the same is merely a minor whoopsie, basically a character flaw, just like that hardly-large-enough-to-mention domestic spending excess?

    • Malaclypse

      Only when we see a robotic, cold president like Obama do we remember fondly the tender, tearful love of country Bush often conveyed and the steely anger directed at our enemies.

      “I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.”

      “Please…don’t kill me!” George W Bush mocking what Karla Faye Tucker said when asked, just before her execution, ‘What would you say to Governor Bush?’ Talk, September 1999

    • Hogan

      the tender, tearful love of country Bush often conveyed

      Bush certainly drove me to tears on many occasions.

    • Boots Day

      Bush’s shortcomings (misreading Putin, leaving office without dealing with Iran, some excess in domestic spending) are evident.

      The fact that Bush left office without doing what Rubin would consider “dealing with Iran” is one of the points in his favor.

      • Anna in PDX

        It’s one of the few charitable things I can say about him. Actually the main bad thing he did w/r/t Iran was the Iraq war which greatly strengthened Iran’s position in the regon.

    • montag2

      Rubin seems to forget that crying on command is political lesson #2 in President Dingleberry’s family. (#1, of course, is the family motto: public service for private gain).

      As for that “steely anger” of which Rubin is so, so fond, it always struck me as cross between a middle manager’s petty tyranny, frat boy bullying and discomfiting constipation.

      Sorry to burst your happy bubble, Jenny, but the Preznident was and will always be a jerk, a bully, a negligent moron and a war criminal.

  • SteveJ

    And except for President Lincoln, there were no murders at Ford Theater.

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