Yes, I know, you could imagine many sentences that would follow that headline. But here is what I have in mind right now: A tenured professor of history at my undergraduate alma mater has written a cover story for Daily Beast/Newsweek that is so careless and unconvincing that I wonder how he will presume to sit in judgment of the next set of student papers he has to grade. It's by the irrepressible Niall Ferguson, it is headlined "Obama's Gotta Go," and its case rests on logic of this sort:
Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak.
Hmmm, what might possibly be the flaw in this comparison? Apart from the fact that Obama did not take office until January 2009 and that private sector jobs have recovered better in his first three-plus years than they did under George W. Bush. As The Atlantic's Derek Thompson recently pointed out:
I do wonder how a criticism of a president, based on a benchmark a year before he took office, and about 16 months before his main "stimulus" effort began taking effect, would be assessed in Harvard's history or economics departments. Unemployment is America's worst economic problem, and Obama's. But this is not the way to demonstrate it. The Atlantic's Robert Wright has argued, to similar effect, that relative to European economies also hit by the terrible employment shock of 2008-2009, the U.S. has recovered better, faster, than others have.