WASHINGTON -- The president is out on the hustings. He is exhorting steadfastness on the war. He is booming the economy. He will be getting hoarse quite soon. The reason is simple. He is trying to reason with the unreasonable.
On the matter of the war his opponents' rejection of reason is demented. There is no alternative to facing down the terrorists and the nihilists in the Middle East. They attacked us here and will do so again and again unless they are defeated -- and for many of them that means death. They have transcended the kamikaze pilots of World War II to become a kamikaze movement. There is no alternative to defeating them.
On the matter of the economy the president's opponents not only reject reason, they reject an abundance of evidence that the economy is vigorous and on course to healthy growth. On the war his opponents gin up a host of spurious arguments and faulty data. On the economy the data is overwhelmingly against them, and as for spurious arguments they have very few. This economy is in a period of growth, and there is no alternative argument to growth save for those made by the diehard disciples of the late Prof. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), prophet of scarcity and no growth.
Yet gloom over the economy is pumping from every smoke stack of the Kultursmog. During the 2004 presidential election, when the economy had already been growing strongly for a year, 36 percent of the citizenry had been persuaded that the economy was in recession. Now a year later, with growth nearing 4 percent for the past ten quarters, 43 percent of the citizenry believe we are in recession. Unemployment has dropped from 5.5 percent to 5 percent. In the past 16 months 3.5 million jobs have been created. Stocks are on the way up. The Fed has taken strong measures to squelch inflation and seems to be succeeding with no damage to healthy growth. Still with practically every economic announcement the coughing, wheezing voices of the Kultursmog predict economic danger.
Brian S. Wesbury, one of the most infallible students of today's economy, laments in the Wall Street Journal: "During a quarter century of analyzing and forecasting the economy, I have never seen anything like this. No matter what happens, no matter what data are released, no matter which way markets move, a pall of pessimism hangs over the economy." Whereupon he cites the auspicious data and their gloomy explications: Bond yield up? Housing market imperiled! On Monday, housing market weakens? The housing bubble is about to burst! On Tuesday, the housing data strengthens? Bad news, the Fed will raise interest rates!