These days, it’s not just the economy, stupid

With no bad news to offer about the war, the Washington Post reports, a bit too breathlessly I think, that “for Bush, time to mend [the] economy is running out.” As befits former Marxists, we have noted that, indeed, the economy is the primary banana peel in the path of President Bush’s re-election. And the analysis of Post reporter Dana Milbank is sound, as far as it goes. In presidential elections, it normally is the state of the economy in the early part of the election year that counts. Moreover, it normally takes an economic stimulus package the better part of a year to have the desired effect. And, although victory in Iraq may revive business, investor, and consumer confidence, it is far from clear that successful completion of the war will have a major impact on the economy. Nonetheless, I think that most Americans realize that these are not normal times. Thus, it may be that the normal benchmarks used to determine whether the economy is doing well enough to sustain the re-election of a president do not apply. If Americans continue to believe that President Bush is doing well in the war on terrorism, they are likely to cut him some slack on the economy

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