When I was at the gym last night*, I caught a glimpse of CNN’s panel discussion railing against Standard & Poor’s for downgrading America’s debt, the equivalent of the passengers of the Titanic blaming the crewman who announced the ship was sinking for the iceberg.
As Byron York writes at the Washington Examiner, such thinking is rampant on the left this weekend:
In the wake of Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the United States government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+, a number of commentators on the left are directing most of the blame not at high levels of government spending, and not even at tax rates they would like to increase, but at the ratings agency itself. Since S&P made enormous mistakes in rating securities backed by subprime mortgages prior to the economic meltdown, they argue, the ratings agency has no right to judge the U.S. government today.
“These are some of the people who have the worst records of incompetence and irresponsibility around,” top House Democrat Rep. Barney Frank told MSNBC. S&P analysts, Frank continued, are “trying to justify their reputation” by being tough on the U.S. An unnamed White House official, quoted by CNBC, called S&P’s performance “amateur hour” and cited a $2 trillion math mistake made in an earlier S&P assessment. Another anonymous administration official added: “A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself.”
Farther along on the left, the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the downgrade “an outrage” and accused S&P of “just making stuff up.” “After the mortgage debacle,” Krugman said, “they really don’t have that right.” Later, Krugman approvingly passed along a tweet from the lefty blogger Atrios, who wrote of S&P: “Apparently we’re supposed to care about what some idiots at some corrupt organization think about anything.”
Irony, thy name is Krugman (and Atrios).
Speaking of Titanic analogies, here’s a vow from this past April that God himself couldn’t sink this ship:
Is it time for Tim to go? Ed Morrissey says yes:
As Allahpundit noted last night, Geithner should probably resign for no other reason than publicly poo-poohing the idea of a downgrade in the spring. That kind of bad guesswork has been a hallmark of this administration’s economic policies. Given that Geithner is now the most senior of all Obama’s economic advisers, he should be the one to fall on his sword now.There is another symbolic reason to demand Geithner’s resignation, too. The Secretary of the Treasury has a responsibility to safeguard the standing of American currency and credit. If Geithner couldn’t get Obama to change direction to ensure that American credit remained strong, then he should have resigned in protest. If his advice led to Obama’s refusal to deal with the structural debt problems that led to the downgrade, then he should resign in shame.
Either way, the US and the Obama administration need to show a change in direction, and since Obama won’t be resigning, Geithner has to go. But he shouldn’t be the only one to fall on his sword, either. Jacob Lew, the OMB director, should also resign in disgrace, as well as whoever remains on Obama’s board of economic advisers. In order to restore some confidence and demonstrate a new direction, this administration needs to clean house and revise its policies in a significant manner.
Will Geithner resign? He was already halfway out the door, according to some reports, when Obama and his chief of staff William Daley tried talking him into staying. The White House might resist those calls for resignation in order to keep blaming conservatives for refusing to pass tax hikes, but that’s not going to convince anyone who understands that our structural debt crisis goes way beyond any help on the revenue side.
Which brings us back to blaming the messenger, rather than confronting the issue. Easier to look for the stash that The Man’s hiding somewhere.
* When Harrison Ford told Karen Allen in Raiders that “It’s not the years honey, it’s the mileage,” clearly he was referring to the increasing amount of time we’re all spending on treadmills these days.