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Time: Obama Isn’t Getting Enough Credit

From the slavering lapdogs at Time:

Obama Averted Disaster, but Getting Credit’s the Hard Part

By Michael Grunwald
April 4, 2011

The New Republic recently asked an intriguing question about the U.S. intervention in Libya: Why isn’t Obama getting credit for preventing an atrocity? The answer is obvious when you think about it: because he prevented the atrocity. It’s hard to get credit for avoiding a disaster when it’s impossible to prove the disaster would have happened without you. Social scientists call this the counterfactual problem. There’s no double-blind study to show what would happen in an alternative Libya where the U.S. didn’t intervene. If you want credit for stopping a disaster, you have to wait until the disaster is already under way to act, like President Clinton did in Bosnia.

And never mind that there is no evidence that 1) there would have been a disaster, or 2) that any potential disaster has been averted. This is Time Magazine. Their ‘facts’ are also ‘counterfactual.’

This is a problem for public policy because preventing disasters is infinitely preferable to stopping them in progress. And it’s a political problem for Obama, who kicked off his re-election campaign on Monday. He is the counterfactual President, not just on his Libya policy, but on almost all his policies.

Certainly what Time and the rest of our slavering news media write about Mr. Obama is counterfactual. But that isn’t what they mean here.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘counterfactual’ as: Pertaining to, or expressing, what has not in fact happened, but might, could, or would, in different conditions. In other words, ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda.’

As in, if you look at it compared to the Great Depression and WWII, Mr. Obama hasn’t been so bad.

And as his aides often complain, "I prevented a disaster" is a lousy political slogan. Or as Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts has put it, "It would have been even worse without me" ain’t much of a bumper sticker.

Not to mention that Barney Frank is perhaps the last person on earth who could make such a claim. Unless we include Mr. Obama himself.

"That’s us: avoiding even bigger messes since 2009," one senior aide told me before the midterms. "It’s a fruitless message."

Exactly what messes have they avoided? Can anybody name even one?

The most extreme example, of course, was the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama signed during his first month in office, when the economy was shedding 700,000 jobs a month. The immediate goal was to avoid a depression, and in that sense it was a tremendous success, stopping the hemorrhaging and stabilizing the scariest economic situation since the Great Depression.

This is probably news to the denizens of Time magazine, but our country has had numerous recessions over the centuries. Mr. Obama’s efforts only gave us a ‘Great Recession.’ Just like his hero’s massive spending programs gave us the ‘Great Depression.’

The Congressional Budget Office and other independent analysts estimate that without it, the unemployment rate would be 2% higher today.

In case anyone still took the CBO seriously.

But 8.8% unemployment is still awful. States and cities are still laying off cops and teachers – just not as many as they would have without the stimulus.

No one can deny that the stimulus saved some public sector union jobs for a few months. And just think of what a disaster there would have been if the Democrats couldn’t have counted on their vote in 2010.

That the recovery remains soft is indisputable; that it would have been much softer or nonexistent without the stimulus turns out to be extremely disputable, even though it’s an article of faith among most nonpartisan economists.

Speaking of counter-factual. Or what we would normally call — an out and out lie.

Once again, there’s no alternative economy that Obama can put in a petri dish to prove how horrific things would have gotten without his intervention. His team has tried to remind Americans that he inherited an economy in free fall, that the aftermaths of financial meltdowns are always long and brutal, that depressions are exponentially worse than even the nastiest recessions. But last November, voters seemed more aware of actual pain than of the theoretical pain they were saved from feeling.

Obama’s defense of other major achievements have similar counterfactual problems. His health care overhaul included serious efforts to rein in soaring costs, but they haven’t kicked in yet – and when they do, they’ll just make medical care somewhat less exorbitant. It’s possible that the public will appreciate premiums that soar a bit less than they would have in the no-action case, but it’s not very likely. His financial reforms should reduce the chances of another Wall Street meltdown, but it’s classic disaster prevention: if they fail, it’s a scandal, and if they work, we won’t notice. "Avoiding financial cataclysms since 2008" isn’t much of a message either.

Most of Obama’s counterfactual problems can be traced to what his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel calls the "gift bag" that President Bush left for him. The gift bag included the worst economy in 80 years, a nightmare on Wall Street, a deficit spiraling out of control, one unnecessary war in Iraq and one intractable war in Afghanistan, a dysfunctional health care system, and an energy policy that was broiling the planet and exposing consumers to violent swings in gas prices.

Obama basically ended the war in Iraq, but attention just shifted to the potential quagmire in Afghanistan. He’s been a paragon of fiscal responsibility compared with Bush, but he’s still blamed for the megadeficits primarily created by Bush’s tax cuts and the Great Recession. Obama has jacked up fuel-efficiency standards and his stimulus included the most aggressive clean-energy push in history, but nobody notices when gas costs more than $3 a gallon.

If you ever need proof how far our media is willing to go for a Democrat politician, just file away the above paragraph.

Even as the country collapsed on Bush’s watch, his supporters always pointed out that he had "kept us safe" from terrorist attacks. Well, Obama has kept us safe – and he didn’t have a Sept. 11 on his watch. But nobody ever mentions that, not even his supporters. Apparently there needs to be a spectacular terrorist attack on U.S. soil during your presidency before you can get credit for preventing another one…

Early in his presidency, Obama and his advisers were reluctant to overemphasize the fragility of the economic situation; they didn’t want to stoke panic and further depress demand by "talking down the economy." And once the worst of the crisis passed, Obama moved on to the interminable fight over health care, which made him look like he wasn’t intensely focused on jobs.

It’s true that during his campaign, Obama’s message of change – the lofty rhetoric about his victory being the moment that the oceans stop rising, the middle class starts recovering, your toilet stops clogging and so on – raised unrealistic expectations about his ability to wave his wand and heal America. And it’s true that in the White House, Obama spent his first two years struggling to find a consistent message that told a consistent story.

And you see, being President is all about concocting "a consistent story."

But he shouldn’t assume that better messaging would have produced better results for Democrats in the midterms at a time of sky-high unemployment. It’s nice that he’s finally hammering home a single-minded message about "winning the future," but if he wants to win in 2012, he ought to worry more about reducing unemployment – not just to levels that are less awful than the no-action case, but to levels that aren’t awful at all. And ultimately, history judges Presidents by whether they made the world a better place.

Which, it should go without saying, Mr. Obama has not done. (By the way, shouldn’t history judge US Presidents by whether they mad the US a better place? Or is that too parochial for the Solons at Time?)

There is no solution to the counterfactual problem. It’s surely frustrating to Obama and his team that they aren’t getting more credit for preventing catastrophes, but public service isn’t all about getting credit

After all, who are we to believe? Time magazine or our counterfactual lying eyes.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, April 4th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Time: Obama Isn’t Getting Enough Credit”

  1. JohnMG says:

    I happen to be in charge of elephant herd control on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to its source in Minnesota. There isn’t a single report of rogue elephant attack anywhere in my area of responsibility. I want a raise. I want fame. I want accolades. I want to be re-elected.

    After all, I must be effective at what I do.

  2. tranquil.night says:

    Take it up with lead sycophants like Dr. Andrew Sullivan, who’s speechless to explain what we’re doing there, or the New York Slimes – who’re praying for a magic bullet to come out of the grassy knoll and kill Daffy because it’s the one thing that will save face, yet it’s the one thing the Moron can’t do.

    I personally agree that Obama needs more credit for what he’s done on the foreign stage, which isn’t much different than his ‘accomplishments’ domestically.

  3. proreason says:

    Their ‘facts’ are also ‘counterfactual.’

    Steve is on a roll today.

    Why isn’t the Light Worker getting credit for:
    – saving civilization
    – preventing cataclysmic asteroids from striking earth\
    – preserving millions of species
    – averting world-wide famine
    – keeping the sun lit

    Because we are racists, we simply aren’t able to appreciate everything that he does for us.

  4. usmcmgb says:

    …”Obama basically ended the war in Iraq, but attention just shifted to the potential quagmire in Afghanistan. He’s been a paragon of fiscal responsibility compared with Bush, but he’s still blamed for the megadeficits primarily created by Bush’s tax cuts and the Great Recession. Obama has jacked up fuel-efficiency standards and his stimulus included the most aggressive clean-energy push in history, but nobody notices when gas costs more than $3 a gallon”.

    The lies that the MSM is willing to propogate to prop up their Emporer is truly staggering. Poor, poor “O”. Just like Rodney Dangerfield, he just can’t get any respect.

    • wardmama4 says:

      I can’t believe that anyone could write that pure b***s*** and anyone would pay a plug nickel for it – Just wait for the real apoplexy tomorrow when Ryan unveils the GOP budget – get ready for it – Education, reproductive choice, the elderly (which will face the death panels under TWMBR) and of course – THE CHILDREN !!!!

      Of course these are people who believe that Planned Parenthood is just doing great healthcare for women (their new anti-de-funding ad) – which leads me to ask what are Medicaid, Medicare, PHS, VA and SCHiP doing for women’s health? And of course that ignores the GAO (or was it CBO) that showed a large percentage of the mammograms PP charge for aren’t done – great health care there – and shouldn’t all these redundant and wasteful (and fraud filled) programs be a major reason as to why America does not need TWMBR?

      Funny (NOT) at how reality and the Liberal Left seem to reside on different planets – For me, if they would just reside in a different country – it would be good enough.

  5. Melly says:

    Did Bush 43 receive credit for USA not being attacked for 7 years?
    “Are You In?” = R.U.IN
    (Anyways, “Are You In?” is the slogan for Discovery Channel’s “Cash Cab”). What nimrods. I suppose the Ivy League people on his staff don’t watch “Cash Cab.” Too beneath them.

    • wardmama4 says:

      LOL – I shall send that to everyone I know – a great take on a stupid mistake.

  6. David says:

    He won a primary and an election with zero qualification or experience.
    He won a nobel peace prize for doing absolutely nothing.
    He will soon have a sad chunk of our population once again putting bumper stickers about all the “hope” they have the One, even though his only accomplishment is extending the sad state of hopelessness these people are already in.

    And for the things he is most responsible for, his base is trying desperately to rename: viz. Obama-care.

    The problem is that he gets credit for nothing not that he isn’t getting credit for what he has done.

  7. Rusty Shackleford says:

    …the worst economy in 80 years,”

    Driven by demands from democrats to provide bad loans to people who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pay them back, and anytime a republican would make attempts to point out that it could not go on this way…it was ignored/squelched/silenced by a democrat congress. Yes, close your eyes and it will go away. Speak not of it and it doesn’t exist.

    We here, of course, know this. But this piece of “writing” looks more like an application to be chairman O’s beeotch than anything else. But again, that much is obvious.

    As to the worst economy in 80 years, if they’re referring to the depression….one will be happy to point out all the “fixes” that didn’t work then and ….doubly so today. Yes, TRAP 1 and TRAP 2….Stim-u-loss….and don’t forget Crap for Clunkers 1 and now 2 just around the corner…and who could forget the Obama mortgage relief programs that less than one tenth of one percent of the affected homeowners participated in. Then there’s ObamaMotors and so ……SO much more.

    Just because a person writes something doesn’t mean it’s going to be read. Just because they say it’s true doesn’t make it so.

    It’s not that they are ignorant; It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so. Ronaldus Magnus said it but borrowed it from Mark Twain, paraphrasing, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    And to repeat my bastardized paraphrasing from Sir Winston Churchill, “Never have so many known so little about so much.”


    And the beat goes on. La de da de da….

    And: “Once again, there’s no alternative economy that Obama can put in a petri dish to prove how horrific things would have gotten without his intervention.

    Actually, there is. It’s called “The Reagan Years”. And how “horrible” things got when the federal government did not engage in ridiculous give-aways and vote-buying. But the counter balance of the sub-prime mortgage (AKA-“Project Deadbeat”) in today’s meltdown was a known quantity to many and yet–ignored. The feigned surprise and ensuing throwing good money after bad by Mr Peter Puffer himself and other complict dunderheads only made things worse and continue to do so. Yet after all that, they sit back, sip their brandy, smoke a cuban cigar and say, “See, socialism works…I told you.”.

    Rush had a caller on Monday, I think it was who was referring to his nine-year-old son who he quoted as saying, “When my nine-year-old son says, ‘China owns us’, I know that it’s got to be obvious to others.” I may be misquoting him but the gist is the same. Yet the MSM happily go about on their apparently drug-inspired crusade against capitalism, conservatism and responsibility…after all, Charlie Sheen is just the coolest. And what we have is Charlie Sheen running the government. All about looking good, not doing the hard work…just tight creases in the pants and trying not to look uncool. Ruling class…..*Phegh* (spit)

  8. Knuckle Dragger says:

    In my petri dish, I can imagine an alternative economy with no illegal immigration, no government unions, no affirmative action, no Department of Education, and no Fannie May/Freddie Mac. If this were possible, no liberal would ever get elected to anything.

  9. Liberals Demise says:

    OOOOH he’s getting the credit where credit is due.
    What is the sound of one hand clapping?

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