The fleeting significance of Wall Street benchmarks

THE FLEETING SIGNIFICANCE OF WALL STREET BENCHMARKS…. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked by reporters this morning if the Dow Jones reaching 10,000 points today has any significance.

Dow 10,000 just isn’t that big a deal, House Republican leader John Boehner said Wednesday morning.

And anyone who places significance on the stock market hitting this symbolic number is “certainly not talking to the American people.” […]

“The American people understand that unemployment is almost at 10 percent, they understand that they might be next so there are concerns about the economy,” Boehner said.

Oddly enough, I agree with this. The value of Wall Street indexes is hardly the best metric for measuring the strength of the economy. Dow 10,000 is just a symbolic milestone.

But while Boehner’s remarks seemed fair this morning, I can’t help but recall that Republicans weren’t nearly as thoughtful earlier this year.

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. The drop in the Dow, the WSJ insisted, was a direct result of investors evaluating “Mr. Obama’s agenda and his approach to governance.”

Karl Rove and Lou Dobbs made the same case. So did Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fred Barnes. It was one of Mitt Romney’s favorite talking points for a while, too.

If the president’s conservative critics were right in March, the recent upswing is necessarily evidence of a sound White House economic agenda, and the WSJ editorial heralding President Obama as sort of financial genius should run any day now.

Of course, using the markets as some kind of financial approval rating for the administration is foolish, and what Boehner said this morning was entirely reasonable. It’s a shame, though, that Republican sensibilities shift so dramatically with the winds.

* Update: Several emailers remind me that Boehner though stock prices were far more relevant when he could use them against the White House.