Failure quantified

FAILURE QUANTIFIED…. MSNBC ran an interesting “Then and Now” feature yesterday, comparing the current state of various benchmarks to where they were when Bush took office (via Ezra). It’s worth taking a look at, but it’s only part of the picture. Some of the more notable numbers:

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)
Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)

DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE
Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)
Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE (1985=100)
Then: 115.7 (Conference Board, January 2001)
Now: 38.0, which is an all-time low (Conference Board, December 2008)

FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY
Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent numbers available)

AMERICANS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE
Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent available)

U.S. BUDGET
Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)
Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

Of course, some of the metrics, most notably the Dow, may look even worse when Bush officially leaves office. He still has 11 days.

But as painful as it is to see, as Ezra put it, “the good numbers go down and the bad numbers go up,” I’d just add that the depressing statistics can capture only so much.

It’s hard to quantify, for example, the devastating effects of Bush’s foreign policy, his assaults on constitutional norms, his far-right judicial appointees, his environmental negligence, his politicization of the entire executive branch, etc.

The numbers, to be sure, are bleak. But I’m afraid Bush’s failures exceed statistical evaluation.