Seeing Bad Luck in Bad Policy

Today New York Times reporter John Harwood wonders what happened to the idea, voiced in the aftermath of the 2004 election, that the country would see a long era of Republican dominance:

How did such a turnabout happen so fast?

In part, the answer stems from developments so rare that, as the former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has said of the financial crisis, they occur “once in a century.” Hurricane Katrina shattered the administration’s reputation for competence in domestic affairs, just as problems in Iraq eroded its credibility on national security issues. Not even partisan critics of Republican policies anticipated how a burst housing bubble would devastate Wall Street and damage the entire economy.

There does seem to be a temptation among some pundits to argue that the problems of the Bush years have less to do with policy, and more to do with, as Harwood suggests, an unusual streak of bad luck. But what is the evidence for that?

Harwood says Katrina “shattered the administration’s reputation for competence in domestic affairs.” What record of competence would that be? Harwood writes that “problems in Iraq eroded its credibility on national security issues.” Problems? The “problem” with the Iraq War is the Iraq War. And the idea that “not even partisan critics of Republican policies” could have predicted the disastrous fallout from the housing bubble…. Well, ask economist Dean Baker, for starters.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.