Monday, May 22, 2006

open letter to Jonah Goldberg

Dear Mr. Goldberg,

Your column titled "Iraq war overshadows all that shines for Bush" appeared in today's edition of the Columbus Dispatch, the newspaper serving the state capitol region of the key swing state of Ohio. Your column posits that the economy is sailing along quite smoothly, and ponders the reason why polls continue to give President Bush poor marks for his handling of the economy. You complain that the poll ratings are "unfair" and of course offer the obligatory conservative dollop of blaming the media, but ultimately you conclude that it must be the Iraq war that is making the country feel that it is on the wrong track and thus the economy is going badly.

Perhaps if you had read the cover story of today's Dispatch, you would not have had to wonder. The cover story is entitled "Everything's Up: Judging by the numbers, the U.S. economy is thriving. But many working Ohioans don't believe it." The article points out the sharp price increases in items many people cannot do without. Between 2002 and today, the price of natural gas has increased 121 percent, the price of gasoline 96 percent, the price of health care 54 percent, and the price of tuition at a four-year public university in Ohio has increased 51 percent, to name a few examples cited in the article.

Not to mention that, in Ohio, over 200,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since President Bush took the oath of office. These jobs are largely being replaced by lower paying service sector jobs that do not offer benefits such as 401k or health insurance. Jay McIntosh, who is identified in the article as Americas director of retail and consumer products for Ernst & Young, was quoted as saying that "The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. The bottom half is losing ground."

Conservatives like you dismiss statements like that as class warfare rhetoric. But unless Ernst & Young has been hiring Democratic activists lately, perhaps it is time for you to accept the statement as true, and that it explains Bush's eroding approval ratings on the economy.

It was a quite delicious irony that this story appeared in the same edition of the Disptach which contained your editorial. But it does certainly appear that it has answered the question for you of why Bush's approval ratings on the economy are headed south and will continue to do so. Unless the economy is lifting ALL boats, expect more of the same.


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