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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Past Eight Years™

"The Past Eight Years™ has now become the excuse du jour for anything that’s wrong today. It’s the Team Obama© mantra that’s been picked up by editorial writers and columnists, TV talking heads and Democrats everywhere. So let’s look back on “The Past Eight Years™.”

Since I like nice round numbers, let’s go back to the turn of this century, back to 2000. Forget about zippers that would not stay up and stained blue dresses; remember Y2K? That was the dreaded computer code that would disable our entire world: planes would fall from the sky, bank accounts would be wiped out, elevators would stop working and your microwave oven would be turned into a bulky paperweight. People hoarded cash and cancelled travel plans in fear of the dreaded Y2K. And what happened? Not a hiccup. Except … for the crash.

From March 11, 2000 to October 9, 2002 the NASDAQ lost 78% of its value, taking even venerable old companies like Corning Glass from $109 to $1.60 in two years. Siloconaires moved from their $4 million dollar estates back to their rooms over their parents’ garage. For some reason, Bill Clinton did not get blamed for this fiasco by those for whom “The Past Eight Years™” is now the answer to everything. But George Bush inherited the bubble when he was elected President and entered into his eight years at the helm.

The tech crash was still occurring when we were hit on 9/11/2001 in the worst terrorist attack in American history with the loss of 3,000 civilian lives, the destruction of the Twin Towers, the attack on the Pentagon and the foiled plan to destroy either the Capitol or the White House. For days afterward, there were no civilian flights in the US, the stock markets were closed for a week and armed military boats patrolled America’s harbors for weeks after the attack. When the NYSE re-opened on 9/17, the market dropped 680 points, the largest one-day drop in American history.

All this happened at the beginning of George W. Bush’s Presidency but he did not complain or cast blame on his predecessor. So how did the rest of “The Past Eight Years™” go?

In January of 2000, the height of the tech bubble, the unemployment rate was 4.0%. Following the tech crash and the 9/11 attacks, unemployment peaked at 6.3% in June 2003 and then steadily declined to between 4% and 5% during 2006 through 2007. Unemployment reached its “The Past Eight Years™” peak at 7.2% in December 2008. Today it stands at either 10% or 17% depending on whose statistics you believe. For working Americans “The Past Eight Years™” were heaven compared to what they are experiencing now.

How were those years for investors? In the beginning of 2000 the DJIA stood at 10,921. There followed the tech crash and 9/11, yet the market had recovered and reach an all-time high of 13,408 in April of 2007.

In December of 2008, after Obama had already been elected and the world teetered on the brink of en economic melt-down the DJIA stood at 7609. Responsibility for the economic crisis can be attributed to various actors: unscrupulous lenders, greedy investors, the failure to adequately understand risk, and government policy. What made it all possible – the elephant in the room - was government policy. The policy that everyone should own a home – even if they can’t afford one. Those unscrupulous lenders would not have lent money to people who could not pay it back if they had been forced to hold the loans instead of selling them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The policy of allowing Fannie and Freddie to leverage their balance sheets to 50 to 1. That’s not to excuse the investment firms who gambled with their own capital on mortgage backed securities without understanding the risk, and leveraging their investment 50 to 1 like Fannie and Freddie. Or lenders who helped borrowers falsify income to qualify for a loan. Or ACORN who blackmailed banks into extending credit to deadbeats. Or … the list goes on. For most of “The Past Eight Years™” investors were treated very well. And if the Congress and Democrat leaders like Barney Frank had not stood in the way of reforming Fannie and Freddie when they did, assuring us that everything was fine, the current crisis may have been averted or ameliorated.

And how about “The Past Eight Years™” foreign policy? The Bush administration struck back against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban on October 7, 2001, slightly less than a month after the 9/11 attacks. By the end of 2001 the Taliban had been routed at the cost of 7 American deaths.

Keeping in mind that we had just suffered the most devastating attack by Islamic jihadists in American history and were facing a tense “truce” with Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator who was believed by all parties to have WMDs in the form of poison gas and was in the process of acquiring nuclear weapons. In light of 9/11, it was decided to take no chances, an example of the "precautionary principle" now defended by Global Warmists. Bush is accused or “rushing” to war with Saddam when in reality he waited for a year and a half trying to gather UN support and to build a coalition. Finally in March 2003, Bush with the support of Britain and Australia acted and removed Saddam. In the process he freed 30 million people, replacing a brutal, homicidal dictator with a democratically elected regime which serves as an example to third world kleptocracies. It also provides the US with a foothold in a part of the world run by Islamic fascists who seek immortality via mass murder and – in the case of Iran – would be willing to commit national suicide as a path toward the return of the “mahdi.”

Condemned by friends and enemies alike, he kept us safe at home, freed millions from tyranny and blunted a perverted tradition of Jihad that threatens Armageddon even now.

There are many things that Bush did – or did not do – that he can rightly be faulted for. He did not veto any spending bills. He created a large and expensive new entitlement program. He did not stand up and fight in the public arena for his beliefs and his principles which allowed his enemies lies and distortions to morph into accepted wisdom. He was not a Conservative, with a capital “C” (or a Libertarian) but a moderate who worked the best he could with his political counterparts in an increasingly vicious partisan environment.

But all-in-all “The Past Eight Years™” were a good time for the American people who were led with quiet determination by a good man who honored the office he held, believed in his country and its heritage and defended his country well. It's no wonder that nearly half the people wish George Bush was back.

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