In the middle of a dewy-eyed psychoanalysis of the first year of the Obama presidency NBC New Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker intones:
On the economy, for instance, the president got right the analysis of what was needed — a Keynesian infusion of federal dollars to get the system functioning again. But he got the theater of the stimulus wrong. He didn’t anticipate how Democrats would exploit his haste to prime the pump to stuff the bill with pet liberal projects, thus giving Republicans an opening to brand Obama as a big-government radical.
At the very least I think that’s premature. We’ve had a single favorable hiccup in the unemployment rate. One swallow doth not a summer make. The trends on the DJIA and the S&P continue to be down and we’d need another major downwards stock correction for the PE ratios to come back to historic levels. Manufacturing continues to be torpid and the extent it’s been buoyed at all it’s been due to the poorly thought out Cash for Clunkers program. The toxic assets that we were in a panic over a year ago to a large extent remain on the books of the banks that held them a year ago. Not only is it far too early to proclaim a victory for Keynesian stimulus, just yesterday on ABC’s This Week I heard Paul Krugman warn that without another big stimulus package this year’s spending will have been in vain.