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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Matthew Dowd needed some quick facts on Sunday to support Bush's feeble economic record. How to get them? How else - make them up.

The number of jobs created in the first six months of this year, almost exactly the same as it was in 1996.

In fact, the number of jobs created in the first six months of 2004 was 1.205 million; in 1996 it was 1.437 million, 20% higher. To get even that substantial discrepancy, Dowd had to pick his period cautiously; if he had just changed to the last 6 months versus the same period in 1996, 56% more jobs were produced under Clinton. Looking over a longer period, the contrast is even starker: in 2003, job creation was negative for 7 months and never exceeded 94,000 in any month; in 1995 job creation was positive for 11 months and at least 140,000 for 10 of those.

Inflation... is lower than what it was up in 1996.

Inflation wasn't too bad in either 1996 0r 2004, but for the 6 months Dowd used as his basis for job creation comparison, it was 2.4% in 2004, 1.8% in 1996. For the most recent 6 months, it was 2.3% vs 2.0%.

There's 5.5% unemployment in 1996. There's 5.5% unemployment today.

Actually true, but done by weaseling. The unemployment rate is the same, but labor participation is lower (66.9% vs 66.2%). So the number of unemployed has gone up, but they're no longer counted as unemployed.

One other Republican who showed up on Sunday morning was miles off his talking points. Senator Chuck Nagel was actually talking honestly about what a mess Iraq has become, using both of the Forbidden Words, 'quagmire' and 'Vietnam'. He also came very close to directly saying that uniformed military was bullied out of giving Bush proper advice about Iraq:

We've got a big problem on our hands. Many of us were concerned... and questioned a lot of these things before going into Iraq.... If you do put more troops in, then you sink deeper into that terrible word, quagmire. And it is not unlike what we found in Vietnam over the years. You just keep putting more and more troops in, propping up governments, propping up governments, and, in the end, if the people are not with you, you lose....

I think we have to rely on our commanders' analysis on the ground. I think we should be careful of that, that those commanders are not nuanced or compromised by the civilian leadership in the Pentagon saying, 'I said we'll listen to the commanders, but the commanders say, wink, wink, `We don't need more troops.`' This is a time for uniformed military to show some courage, step up.... It is now very much up to the courage and the leadership of the uniformed military to be very straight with our policy makers.