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Today's Barnes-razing Ceremony

The comedic value of Fred Barnes' columns seems to be increasing as they devolve into Larry King-style disconnected musings. His thoughts on Obama today feature some great tidbits. Here he argues that Obama (as opposed to, say, the collapsing world economy) has killed the stock market:

The Dow opened at 8281.22 on the morning of Obama's inauguration. Today it opens at 7465.95. That's a vote of practically no confidence in Obama's strategy for reviving the economy. The numbers were worse on the biggest days of the Obama presidency. The Dow fell 332.13 points on inauguration day, 381.99 points on the day Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced step two in the bank bailout, and 297.91 points when the president signed the stimulus bill three days ago. 

The Geithner speech certainly seems to have resulted in a market drop. But inauguration day? The signing ceremony for the stimulus bill? Don't you think that maybe those widely-anticipated events were already priced into the market? If you really think that investors woke up January 20th and said, "Oh, crap, that socialist Obama is becoming president. Better sell!," then you probably shouldn't be holding up the market as a perfectly rational gauge of policy merit.

Barnes also writes:

One of [Obama's] favorite rhetorical devices is setting up a straw man, then knocking it down. He invoked this classic ploy subtly in his inaugural address, crudely in his press conference. "We will restore science to its rightful place," Obama said at his inauguration. Really? Where had science been?

Steve Benen asks, "Does Barnes not know this, or is he pretending not to know this?" Let me answer this by telling a story. Sometime in the '90s I came across a fax from the Republican Party, making some highly spurious claims about tax or budget policy. A few days later I saw that Barnes had an article in the Weekly Standard making the exact same points in the exact same order. So, yes, I'm pretty sure Barnes really doesn't know that scientists complained that the Bush administration systematically stifled science. He's not disputing the notion, he's expressing total surpise. This is what happens when you get all your news in the form of talking points from the Republican Party. You hear some widely-aired claim that never penetrated your little bubble and you're just gob-smacked. Bush stifled science? Huh? Barnes sounds like the Republican leaders in this SNL sketch, scoffing at Obama for his loony notion that we can't go back to the economic policies of the past eight years:

--Jonathan Chait