Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, October 21, 2003  

Good news: the 2003 federal deficit was only $374 billion! In bizarro world, Bush administration officials have, of course, promptly declared this a victory. Sure, it may be a record, but it's nearly a hundred billion less than expected!

"Today's budget numbers reinforce the indications we have seen for some months now: that the economy is well on the path to recovery,'' Treasury Secretary John Snow said.

Yes, in bizarro world, you can call catastrophes success. This is, in fact, essentially the MO of the Bush playbook. Recall back when he debated Gore? The only way he could have lost the debate was to openly drool and confuse Texas and Mexico. In the first debate, he declared that the US ought to let the Russians take the lead in Kosovo. Result? Victory.

He took office in the midst of a recession and speedily worsened it. Surpluses became deficits, employment became unemployment, deflation loomed. Result? Victory--imagine how much worse it would have been worse without the tax cuts! New York was bombed, and he went on a personal crusade to "smoke out" Osama bin Laden. After invading Afghanistan, Osama mocked him. Result? Victory--the Taliban is vanquished. Then Iraq, the new big bad on the block. We commit tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of billions of dollars to invade and discover that Iraq's threat was roughly as serious as Nepal's. Result? Victory--the Iraqi people have been liberated from a brutal dictator.

I knew the second I heard the news about the lower-than-expected catastrophic deficits that the Bushies would declare victory. But fortunately, not everyone was taken in this time. Despite the spin, the headlines aren't, as they would have been three years ago, "Economy Rebounding Despite Deficits." Instead, they mostly seem to be of the "Federal Deficit at Record High" variety.

Even more encouraging, the Democrats seem to have found their spine. Kent Conrad of North Dakota noted dryly, "I'm somewhat amused to see them say they thought that was good news." They're even starting to understand how it works in bizarro world: SC Senator Hollings thinks the OMB has been playing with the numbers just so the White House can claim a victory when record deficits arrive. Now they've got their thinking caps on.

Still, I greet this fascinating news with ambivalence. Five days in my no-cynicism zone was mighty refreshing. I wish somehow it wasn't the same old crap--no matter how fascinating--the second I get back. Ah well.

posted by Jeff | 7:18 AM |
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