Selective memories

SELECTIVE MEMORIES…. ThinkProgress’ Faiz Shakir was on MSNBC yesterday, and raised a point that often goes overlooked. “Remember back in October, November, December, January of this year, when Karl Rove and so many Republican pundits were going on TV and saying the market is failing because of President Obama?” Faiz asked. “That the market was reacting because President Obama was now in office? What happened to that?”

The Washington Examiner‘s J.P. Freire wasn’t impressed. “I think that’s a brilliant strawman you made up,” Freire responded. “I can’t remember anyone saying that.”

Memories can be tricky sometimes, can’t they?

Over the first seven weeks of the Obama presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, just one of many Wall Street indexes, dropped from 7,949.08 to 6,547.04. A wide variety of conservatives said this was necessarily evidence that the White House’s economic policies were a mess, if not an outright failure, and that the president didn’t know what he was doing. The Wall Street Journal ran an entire editorial on this in early March.

As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama’s policies have become part of the economy’s problem.

Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it’s become clear that Mr. Obama’s policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. […]

So what has happened in the last two months? The economy has received no great new outside shock…. What is new is the unveiling of Mr. Obama’s agenda and his approach to governance.

Faiz has a variety of similar observations from the likes of Karl Rove and Lou Dobbs. The argument was also repeated by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fred Barnes. It was one of Mitt Romney’s favorite talking points for a while, too.

“I can’t remember anyone saying that”? I can’t remember any conservatives not saying that.

At least for now, the markets have recovered from their Spring lows, and as of yesterday, are back to around January levels. If the president’s conservative critics were right in March, the recent upswing is necessarily evidence of a sound White House economic agenda, and I’m anxiously awaiting the WSJ editorial heralding President Obama as sort of financial genius.

Of course, all of this is quite silly, and using the Dow as some kind of financial approval rating for the administration is foolish.

But conservatives have been awfully silly about this, first blaming Obama for the markets’ downturn, and second, in Freire’s case, pretending the criticism never happened.