What Has Obama Ever Done For Us?

ith apologies to Monty Python, I’d like for you to try a thought experiment. Imagine being a fly on the wall at a gathering of Tea Party intelligentsia. Now, imagine leaving that empty room and attaching yourself to a wall in an adjacent quarters that is playing host to a gathering of hysterical, conspiracy obsessed Tea Party organizers planning their next rabble rousing rally. Amid the fiery rhetoric and lunatic invective, the leader stands up and demands “What has Obama ever done for America?”

Then, unexpectedly, at the back of the room a solitary individual who didn’t get the memo about our president being the Antichrist, timidly responds by producing the following three charts.

The first:

This first is a chart of the stock market as it performed in the last two years of the Bush Administration and the first two years of the Obama administration. Surely right-wing bloviator Lawwy Kudlow had it right when he opined:

I have long believed that stock markets are the best barometer of the health, wealth and security of a nation. And today’s stock market message is an unmistakable vote of confidence for the president.

Of course, Kudlow wrote those words when Bush was in office, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, we say. If stock market performance is an indicator of the rightness of your guy’s policies, surely the same can be said for our guy.

Here’s the next chart:

This is a chart of job losses under Bush (in red) and under Obama (in blue). If contra Larry Kudlow the performance of the stock market isn’t your favorite metric of the effectiveness of a president’s economic stewardship, you can always choose to go by employment figures instead. And once again, the differences in performance between Bush and Obama could not be more stark. The Bush administration put a knife into the gut of the American worker and twisted it. Barack Obama has spent the last two years easing that knife out. Some have complained that he might have pulled the knife out faster. Of course,  that ignores the nearly unanimous, un-constructive and hypocritical obstructionism coming from the political opposition doing their best to force the knife in deeper. In any case, recent employment figures do seem to show that the hapless victim of Bush administration policies (and by this I mean you and me) is showing clear and unmistakable signs of recovery.

But what about the national debt? Didn’t Barack Obama triple the budget deficit the moment he stepped into office? Well, no actually. You see, the president doesn’t pass a budget the moment he steps into office. Rather, he inherits his predecessor’s budget. And as Cato Institute (yes that Cato Institute) senior fellow Daniel Mitchell points out, attempts by conservative critics to blame Obama for the 2009 budget are simply lies. The reality of the budget picture is that Obama inherited a massive budget deficit from George W. Bush. It was a deficit engendered in large part to save America from the economic precipice we were looking into in the last months of the Bush presidency. So here’s the last chart:

Now, I don’t for a second believe that these charts would convince the Tebaggers that Barack Obama is actually rescuing America from the fiscal train wreck of the Bush administration. But to honest observers who aren’t a pack of conspiracy obsessed, racist, hate-filled, reality denying nutjobs, the numbers should paint a much sunnier picture than we’re getting from the mainstream media (not to mention Fox News) of what this President has done to help mend our broken economy.


By the time the solitary individual pulled out the first chart the organizers would riddle the body with their concealed automatic weapons. Logic has no impact on blind hatred and that is the driving force behind teabaggers.

Anyone know if those rosy job figures since November include the million or so very temporary workers hired for the census? The job gains seem to correspond very closely to the Bureau’s hiring schedule.

@Dave H: Realism! That’s all we need.

@Benedick: I leave Stinque fantasy to the gourmet cooks and the Scrabble players who know how to spell words that nobody else ever heard or saw. Oh, and iPad groupies.

Sport TJ: Oakland A’s pitcher has a perfect game on Mother’s Day in front of his grandma who raised him after his mom died. It’s only the 19th perfect game in the history of MLB.

I’m sorry, I couldn’t get past “Tea Party intelligentsia” without dissolving into giggles.

ADD: Nice historiated initial.

@Dave H:

66,000 of those are Census workers. 231,000 of those jobs are private sector jobs. The recovery is for real.

Why the allergic reaction to good news? Have liberals become so accustomed to bad news that good news gives them hives? In reacting this way we’re doing Sean Hannity’s job for him. I promise you, if liberals can’t hoist the flag of this administration’s successes, we’ll be living under President Palin before too long.

Let me put it this way: setting aside the question of whether Bush stole the 2000 elections, there are three theories on why Bush became president. Two of them are flat out wrong:

Theory 1: Bush won because Ralph Nader split the progressive vote just enough to cause the debacle in Florida that ended up with Bush as president.

Theory 2: Progressives didn’t vote their conscience, thus depriving Ralph Nader of a victory that should have been his.

Theory 3: Worried about Bill Clinton’s philandering, Al Gore ran a campaign in which he distanced himself from Bill Clinton instead of seeking to associate himself with 8 years of unrivaled economic growth and prosperity.

Of these three theories only the 3rd is correct. No one ever won an election by focusing on his failures to the exclusion of his successes, and the Gore campaign was an embarrassment in this regard. Remember the Lieberman vp. Pick? Even then Lieberman was odious to the liberals who knew him and his policies. But he was chosen due to his perceived “moral rectitude.” AL Gore inexplicably went on defense when he had an amazing offensive hand to play.

I’m afraid we’re doing the same with Obama. And I promise: should Republicans take the House and Senate in 2010, whatever disappointment we may have felt about the final shape of Health Care Reform, or the Wall Street bailout, or the stimulus is going to seem like Heavenly bliss compared to the steaming pile of crap the GOP is going to try shoving down our throats over the next two years.

@Mistress Cynica:

“Tea Party intelligentsia”: are those the ones that have figured out that Glenn Beck doesn’t actually cease existing when they switch off the TV? XD

@Serolf Divad: Clinton is no liberal, should not call himself a democrat. He made no changes whatsoever, he vigorously pursued, the same economic policies of Bush I, and it seemlessly continued under Bush II. The Clinton economic prosperity was just the beginnings of this bubble that finally burst 2 years ago. NAFTA and Gramm Leach Bliley, the two worst things that ever happened to this country, were passed under Clinton.

Clinton was owned by the oligarchy, and on what mattered, did their bidding. But so many liberals are single-issue liberals, whether its feminism or abortion or the enviro, or civil rights or whales, whatever, he took a few symbolic liberal stands on liberal social issues, and liberals were hoodwinked, because on deep, serious economic, social justice issues, he sold the country out to the finance industry. With the result we now live with. Tyson’s desire for cheap illegal labor, resulted in government allowing the flood of undocumented immigrants now driving down wages in the trades and construction industry and causing this anger among the working people. Clinton did this. NAFTA, its sole purpose was to allow the US agriculture industry to sell cheap grain wherever it wanted. NAFTA collapsed the rural mexican corn farming system. The small family farms in rural mexico that grew corn, could not match the price of the US agribusiness combine, and its the people from those now failing farms coming to the US for jobs. Where derivatives invented under W? Did Clinton ever cross Wall Street?

Fuck Clinton.

@Serolf Divad: LUV the drop cap! And concerning the topic of the post itself, I think that even if someone would argue that any recession and recovery cycle would look like that, it’s important to point out that it was by no means inevitable that recovery would begin at the same time Obama took office unless he affected some measures that Bush was neglecting to do (like the big-ass bailouts) to turn things around.

@flippin eck:

Most importantly: Obama was merely following the good, common sense Keynesian approach to dealing with the crisis. And in some sense, sure, he was simply following through with the ball that Bush got rolling, in this respect but it is important to remember: (a) In enacting Keynesian measures Bush was acting out of desperation trying to repair the vast damage his laissez faire economic policies had engendered, and (b) after the election, the GOP marched in lockstep in opposition to Obama’s approach. So these numbers are definitely a vindication for Obama.

@Serolf Divad: Thanks for the information about the private job gains. Unfortunately those 66,000 new census jobs will all go away in only a few months.

I’m not trying to undermine President Obama because I shudder at the thought of a President McCain. My concern is that someone at the Dept. of Labor was trying to pull a fast one by counting these short term positions as real job growth when they only last for a couple of months every ten years.

@Dave H: Does Labor politicize stats? (Honest question: Dunno.) The counter-argument would be that since the active unemployment rate also rose, they weren’t doing the boss any favors. (Saying that’s also good news may be true, but good luck making the point.)

As far as the Census jobs being only temporary: Classic Keynes, based on my vague understanding. You want to pump money into the economy, even if it’s a short-term injection, and jobs are more effective than tax cuts. Electric jolts are also short-term, but sometimes they’re all a heart needs.

Broader point: I’m on record saying you can’t call the midterms until after Labor Day, and the September job report will be the decisive factor. Everything else is just a highly amusing sideshow.

And enthusiasm? I’m on record about that, too. Good for the economy, good for Barry not being as bad as the alternatives on the table. But too many bummers, symbolic and substantial, for me to wave the flag.

@nojo: Can you go on the record in support of historiated drop caps to open posts too? Seriously, they’re terrific. And class the joint up.

@flippin eck: I’ll try to use one the next time I post around here.

@flippin eck: The designer in me appreciates them, but as a practical matter I have enough on my hands just finding a post image.

But for the record, I lean toward the Amphigorey set.

Gorey is a favorite. It still amazes me how recent his work was, since it all looks so firmly rooted in the turn of the last century.

@IanJ: Clever mannerism. My love for the editorial we and Reifying Abstract Concepts stems from similar sources.

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