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Friday, 24 August 2012

It’s no longer a surprise when a minor elected official from Texas goes on local television and spews conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama, as Tom Head did this month in Lubbock. By now we expect some of those people to suffer from OIP Derangement Syndrome.

But it’s a surprise when a prominent historian and public intellectual like Niall Ferguson publishes an essay so full of one-sided, incomplete, illogical, and simply wrong statements that it shows he’s incapable of assessing President Obama fairly.

As numerous refutations by other writers have pointed out, Ferguson’s Newsweek cover story, “Why Barack Obama Needs to Go,” does the following:
  • blame Obama because private employment numbers are worse than they were in January 2008, a full year before he took office—as if the Bush-Cheney recession hadn’t started in the meantime.
  • complain that the Obama administration hasn’t addressed the national infrastructure as promised without acknowledging that such projects were in the 2009 stimulus bill and other proposals since bottled up by Congress.
  • complain that that stimulus spending sped up the economy only briefly (foolishly pointing to unrelated numbers, showing the government’s long-planned census hiring), but also complain that coming cuts in spending would permanently slow the economy, and complain that the deficit is too large. 
  • criticize the costs of Obama’s health-insurance reform package without acknowledging the savings—and trying to justify this by citing one sentence on costs from a Congressional Budget Office report on costs while ignoring the very next sentence on savings.
  • blame Obama for both enlarging the deficit and for signing off on a deal to shrink the deficit (while praising Rep. Paul Ryan, who did the same things).
  • criticize Obama for not adopting the Bowles-Simpson Commission’s budget structure after Ryan, a member of that commission, had disowned it and brought the Republican House caucus along with him.
  • misstate that “half of us [are] paying the taxes” as if the federal income tax is the only tax Americans pay.
  • credit George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq for the “Arab Spring” uprisings of late 2010 while denying Obama’s policies and initiative to intervene in Libya.
  • blame the President for China’s continuing economic growth, as if the largest country in the world was under American control and should remain poor.
  • quote economic measurements no one else can find.
Ferguson started his essay, “I was a good loser four years ago.” He was, after all, a supporter and advisor of John McCain. But he‘s a good loser no longer. Now he’s given himself over to OIP Derangement Syndrome.

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