Ed Driscoll

The Adventures of Barry Munchausen

After explaining the basics of Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy, Rand Simberg writes, “Making the patient sick in order to aggrandize power? That might explain the president’s policies”:

But what should we think when we see the same phenomenon on a much grander scale — when instead of a mother fabulizing symptoms or poisoning her child, an entire political class in power spouts nonsense about the state of a great nation’s economy and the causes for it, and then treats it with long-failed nostrums almost guaranteed to make the situation worse by any rational economic analysis? What to think when the stock market rises when the president is out of the country (”the patient improves in the absence of the parent”)?

All through last year, the Democrats insisted that the economy was tanking as a result of “tax cuts” and “deregulation,” though there’s not a single instance in the history of the world in which reducing tax rates caused a recession. They could never point to any particular thing that was “deregulated” during the Bush presidency (and they in fact fought against administration suggestions of stricter regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). They started [2] talking down the economy last summer, and Senator Schumer almost singlehandedly [3] caused the collapse of IndyMac, a key harbinger of what was to come, with some ill-chosen words a year ago.

The president continues to insist that private health care is a root cause of our problems, and that the economy cannot recover properly until the health insurance industry is overhauled to his specifications. This ignores the healthy economy we’ve enjoyed over much of the past three decades with the current system. He claims that we can somehow spend our way out of national penury with plans to vastly explode the federal debt over the next several years. This would make budget surpluses a quaint artifact of history and surely result in higher interest rates, more inflation, or (as we saw in the late seventies) both simultaneously. In other words, the symptoms are “inappropriate” and “not congruent” with the diagnosis.

The administration predicted last winter that, in the absence of their “stimulus” medicine, unemployment would rise to nine percent sometime next year, and that with it, it would peak at eight and start to drop this summer. Well, the contents of the bottle from the traveling Obama/Reid/Pelosi medicine show turned out to be arsenic, because unemployment is already at 9.4% and it’s not even summer yet. The patient is showing a “[4] poor tolerance of the treatment.” Despite all of the medical “stress tests” being performed at the parent’s request, the economy continues to show “incongruities” and “results inconsistent with the tests.” And all the while, Daddy Obama tells us about our feelings and the [5] importance of “empathy.” He pretends an “inordinate attachment” to us, basking in the worship of those who still believe that he’s going to [6] fill their gas tank and pay their mortgage.

We don’t know for sure why a mother would poison her child, but it’s a lot easier to diagnose why politicians might want to tank the economy while blaming their political opponents’ policies for it. And it’s no coincidence that when you have policies that cause [7] the failure of a major company, it provides a ready excuse for the government to take it over, because it’s “too big to fail.” So at what point do we diagnose the real problem, which is not the economy, but the people who have what Hayek called the [8] fatal conceit to think that they can tinker it back to “health” with policies that just happen to coincide with their political preferences to increase their power and control over it and the American people? How long will the electorate put up with [9] being operated on by the Three Stooges?

Unfortunately, if history is any judge, they might be able to get away with it a lot longer than we’d like to think. After all, Franklin Roosevelt, the original Munchausen national parent, kept tinkering all through the thirties, suppressing competition and demand, and never restoring the economy to full employment. But he kept winning reelection thanks to his bond with “the common man.” And shortly before the end of the war, he died just a few months after being elected to an unprecedented fourth term. So at long last, the economy, with the help of a newly Republican Congress that prevented Harry Truman from indulging in more snake oil, recovered after over fifteen years of continuous illness caused by an over-doting but toxic mother government.

Ed Morrissey though, believes:

Obama only has a few weeks at most to keep using the “inherited from my predecessor” defense, if that.  The next joblessness report comes out in early July, and it will probably spell an end to that defense, as well as support for Obamanomics in general.

Red Queen’s Race style charts such as this (HT: I/P) aren’t helping President Munchausen’s case.