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Although When I Disagree with George Selgin, I Worry….

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

At his post-election post-mortem yesterday, President Obama said “Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, were standing at this podium two years into their presidency getting very similar questions, because, you know, the economy wasn’t working the way it needed to be” (Dana Milbank, “Obama is sad but not sorry about the election results,” Nov. 4).  That’s true in the case of Reagan, but false in the case of Clinton.

In November 1994 – when the GOP took control, for the first time in four decades, of both houses of Congress – the unemployment rate was a quite decent 5.6 percent and had fallen for each of the past three months.  It was a full percentage point lower than the 6.6 percent rate for January and February of that year.  And in November 2000, voters gave Bill Clinton’s heir-apparent, Al Gore, only a razor-thin majority even though the unemployment rate was then an awesomely low 3.9 percent.

Voters are complicated.  While undoubtedly influenced by the state of the economy and job market, voters are also subject to fits of irrational exuberance, foolish fears, excessive moralizing, and perhaps even rare spasms of wisdom.  It’s too simple and convenient for the Democrats to blame their shellacking exclusively on the current foul state of the economy and on Mr. Obama’s recently diagnosed inability to communicate.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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