The open, from my USA Today column:
The economy is in the Slough of Despond, according to President Obama. If we don’t do what he says, we invite a catastrophe from which we may never recover. Indeed, in his address to Congress last week — in a passage intended to be hopeful and uplifting — Obama compared our plight to that of America in the darkest days of the Civil War, Great Depression, World War II and the Industrial Revolution.
But there’s good news! According to his budget — which he assures us is an “honest accounting” of our predicament — the economy will shrink by only a measly 1.2% this year (it fell by a 6.2% annual rate in the final quarter of 2008) and then take off next year with 3.2% growth and soar for years to come.
So which is it? Are we facing the biblical doom described in Ghostbusters where fire and brimstone come down from the skies, rivers and seas boil, the dead rise from their graves, and dogs and cats live together? Or, are we in a steep-but-conventional recession that will run its course by the end of the year and be replaced by higher than normal growth?
Well, it depends on which Barack Obama you happen to be listening to. It’s tempting to say the man is two-faced, but that seems like a woeful undercount. The man has more facets than a disco ball, more angles than a rhombic triacontahedron.