I looked around when I heard someone crying, and there was Pollyanna bawling her eyes out. That's how depressing was the one-two punch of pessimism in Paul Krugman's and Bob Herbert's New York Times pay-to-peruse columns of today.
Just in time for the elections, the pair paint a picture of America so dreary you half-expected the Google logarithm to place Prozac ads on the page. Krugman tries to talk down the economy, while Herbert sees a more deep-seated malaise. Annotated excerpts:
Krugman: "Bursting Bubble Blues"
- "The housing boom became a bubble . . . the question now is how much pain the bursting bubble will inflict." Guessing Krugman's answer: a lot.
- "Some say the worst is already over . . . So maybe this is as bad as it gets. But I think the pessimists have a stronger case." Told you so!
- "Home sales probably still have a long way to fall."
- "You don’t want to make too much of the fact that some housing indicators have turned up; those indicators tend to bounce around a lot from month to month." Don't let some hard data stand in the way of a good jeremiad.
- "Moreover, much of the good news in the latest economic report is unsustainable at best, suspect at worst." Rove at it again.
- "So this is probably just the beginning. How bad can it get? Well, you don’t have to go far to find grim forecasts." No farther than the Times op-ed page.
- "In case you’re wondering, I don’t blame the Bush administration for the latest bad economic numbers." Wanna bet?
- "Still, the bad news will have political consequences. . . And if that hurts the G.O.P. in next week’s election, well, there’s a certain poetic justice involved." I told you so!
Herbert: "The System’s Broken"
- "If you pay close attention to the news and then go out and talk to ordinary people, it’s hard not to come away with the feeling that the system of politics and government in the U.S. is broken." No sweeping generalizations for Bob!
- "I spent the past week talking to residents in Chicago, southern Michigan and Indiana. No one was happy about the direction the country has taken." No one? Where did Bob find his folks - the unemployment line?
- ". . . an increasing sense of disenchantment and unease that ordinary Americans are feeling when it comes to national politics and government. For far too many of them, the government in Washington is remote, unresponsive and ineffective." Let me guess: solution - make government bigger!
- "Several people mentioned that their families were struggling financially at a time when the stock market had soared to all-time highs." Darn those Monopoly millionaires!
- "Nearly all said they were repelled by the relentless barrage of tasteless and idiotic campaign commercials." So why has YouTube had a gazillion hits for the Harold Ford Playboy ad?
- "Black voters, disillusioned by voter suppression efforts and a pervasive belief that their votes will not be properly counted, may not turn out in the numbers that the party was hoping for." Rove and Diebold, at it again.
- "The system is broken. Most politicians would rather sacrifice their first born than tell voters the honest truth about tough issues." Translation: raise taxes.
As I type this, it's still dark here in upstate New York. But Herbert and Krugman notwithstanding, I'm betting that in an hour or so, the sun will rise.