FEAR ITSELF…. Barack Obama, as evidenced yesterday, hopes to convey to Americans just how serious the economic crisis really is. This led The Hill‘s Sam Youngman to make a very odd analogy.

Barack Obama won the White House on a message of hope, but when it comes to dealing with the first test of his presidency, he has mixed in a little fear.

As the president-elect works to salvage the slumping economy with his pricy stimulus plan, his famous rhetoric has taken a darker tone. […]

Obama’s tactics ring familiar to those President Bush and his administration used when they claimed that the evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq could come in the form of “a mushroom cloud.”

Actually, no, that doesn’t work at all.

Obama’s rhetoric isn’t demagoguery, it’s an explanation of why a dreadful economic landscape requires an ambitious response. The threat is real, the danger is imminent. Obama, preparing to lead, needs the country to understand the seriousness of the situation.

This bears no real meaningful resemblance to the “mushroom cloud” rhetoric. At the time, the threat wasn’t real, and the danger was non-existent. The rhetoric from Bush and his team was deliberately deceptive, part of a propaganda campaign to play on people’s post-9/11 fears, scaring Americans into supporting a mistake.

As Steve M. put it, “I bet we aren’t really even in a recession, and those 2.6 million people who lost their jobs in 2008 are all completely fictitious. I bet SEC inspectors found and destroyed all the bad mortgages back in 1995. I bet Bernie Madoff didn’t really have an active Ponzi scheme recently — I bet he just had a Ponzi scheme buried in his back garden that he wanted to activate. Obama and Barney Frank lied! Limited government died! Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.