The Incompetent or the Incoherent?

This is the headline of The Economist magazine this week. The Economist, for its part, is going with the incoherent. The logic is simple, but the argument is incomplete. According to the Economist, a liberal-in-the-European-sense magazine published in London, President Bush understands the need for freedom in the Middle East, and acted decisively to respond to the true culprits of 9/11 with a minimum number of mistakes there. However, the editors of the Economist believe that while it was correct to invade Iraq based on shoddy evidence of WsMD, the subsequent occupation has been a disaster. They believe that the American people should give Bush the accountability that he claims to require for everyone, but seems not to require of himself, and vote for Kerry.

OK, I pretty much agree with that. There are several interesting observations, however. To me, it is amazing that the Economist, a magazine so dedicated to free markets, capitalism, and libertarian ideals, after having endorsed George W. Bush (whose record included six unimpressive years in Austin, a stint as manager of a baseball team, and several failed oil companies) over a sitting Vice President with a record of economic growth but a woody personality, after rallying behind Bush in Iraq, after moaning about the wretched “indecisiveness” of Kerry, has still chosen to change horses mid-stream.

It is also amazing that throughout the Economist’s justification for its decision, it mentions not once the fiscal policies of this administration. After demand stimulus tax cuts to the wrong segment of society; a record of pork, log-rolling, and horse-trading that even embarrasses the Heritage Foundation; an incoherent trade policy that vacillates between protectionism and liberalism; and three years of “disappointing” job/growth numbers, you think that the Economist would live up to its name as “The Economist” and actually talk about economics.

How many months of worse-than-expected economic statistics do you want before you say, dammit George, please revise your expectations down and tell the truth? Just shows you, fool me once, um, …

Comments 4

  1. Sandy November 1, 2004

    Well, we’ll just put you down as undecided. That’s what the Harrisburg Patriot (the local newspaper) did . Declined to endorse any candidate. There’s cutting edge journalism for you!
    Point of fact: I believe GWB was not manager of a baseball team (that requires the ability to motivate people and canny strategic thought) but he was an owner of a baseball team. All that takes is money.

  2. Josh November 1, 2004

    If it weren’t for John Kerry’s near-Herculean efforts to prove his economic policy would not just be as bad as Bush’s, but somehow worse yet, maybe the Economist would have brought it up in their endorsement. They probably didn’t want to remind everyone that they were endorsing a protectionist demagogue.

  3. Jeff November 2, 2004

    To extend your point of fact, Sandy, about what it takes to be a team owner (money): in this case, that amounted to $606,302 of Bush’s own money and over $200 million in public subsidies, including a $135 million sales tax hike for the people of Arlington. Given that W evenutally made a 24-fold profit on the deal, walking away with $14.9 million, I’d say someone in Texas besides the Rangers knows how to play hardball.

  4. Tom November 2, 2004

    Josh, the Economist rates Kerry as a fiscal conservative based on his voting record in Congress. His campaign blather about spending is no worse than Bush’s. Given that Presidents have less incentive for pork-barrel spending (their constituency is the country, not a district) Kerry will just get better. Bush, somehow, managed to get worse. (Shhhh…whatever he did, it’s NOT Keynesian! Keynes is bad!)
    If protectionism and demagoguery are your criteria for a bad candidate, then I suggest you examine Bush. I am pretty amazed that people think that Bush is a free-trader just because he’s a Republican and he says he is. Query: textiles and China/Pakistan, steel and everyone, shrimp and Vietnam, lumber and Canada, furniture and China, farmers and the whole world.
    The most outrageous thing about this is Pakistan. Imposing tariffs on Pakistani textiles makes Pakistani workers unemployed. Yes, that’s just what I want, more unemployed Pakistanis because of Bush policies.

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