ECONOMIC policy, which became startling when Washington began buying automobile companies, has become surreal now that disappointment with the results of the second stimulus is stirring talk about the need for a . . . second stimulus.

Elsewhere, it requires centuries to bleach mankind's memory; in Washington, 17 months suffice: In February 2008, President George W. Bush and Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed that a $168 billion stimulus -- Stimulus I -- would be the "booster shot" the economy needed. Unemployment then was 4.8 percent.

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