NYT, Equating Stimulus With the Iraq War, Recalls the Bush-Era ‘Boom’

Notingthat policies like the stimulus plan tend to poll pretty badly, New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes (7/16/10) that Obama says he has pursued such policies because they’re “the right thing to do for America.” To Stolberg, that sounds familiar:

It is an argument that sounds eerily similar to the one Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, made to justify an unpopular war in Iraq as he watched his own poll numbers sink lower. Mr. Bush and his aides often felt they could not catch a break; when the economy was humming along–or at least seemed to be humming along–the Bush White House never got credit for it, because the public was so upset about the war.

Two things.

One, I think we can all agree thatefforts to stimulate the economy are actually nothing at all like the invasion of Iraq.

Two, the “humming” Bush economy? Now that actually sounds familiar…. Where have we heardthe argument thatBush wasn’t getting enough credit for his economic boom? Oh yeah–that was from Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times:

FAIR Action Alert

NYT Falls for White House Spin on Economy
No one ‘envies’ Bush GDP record


The New York Times (1/28/08) claimed in a front-page story that George W. Bush’s economic growth record “would be the envy of most presidents.” This claim has no basis in fact and should be corrected by the newspaper.

The assertion was part of a “White House Memo” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg. Opening with the question, “Will George W. Bush be remembered as the president who lost the economy while trying to win a war?,” she continued:

Mr. Bush has spent years presiding over an economic climate of growth that would be the envy of most presidents. Yet much to the consternation of his political advisers, he has had trouble getting credit for it, in large part because Americans were consumed by the war in Iraq.

As thatalert noted, this was not the first time Stolberg had tried to applaud the Bush boom:

More than a year ago (7/12/06), Stolberg described Bush as “blessed with a growing economy but facing voters who do not give him much credit for it.” She claimed that “by standard measurements, the economy does look good,” citing “a gross domestic product that grew an average of 4 percent in the past three years.”

As Dean Baker wrote in response to Stolberg’s 1/28/08 piece: “President Bush’s growth record is better than his father’s, but it is worse than the record of every other president in the last half century. It’s not clear why they would be envious.”

It’s troubling that Stolberg seems so peculiarly wedded to this idea.

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.