Alleged economist does Meet the Press!

TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2012

Most fatuous claims in the world: Sunday’s roundtable segment on Meet the Press was just stupendously bad. In particular, alleged economist Diane Swonk seemed to be auditioning for a sequel to Being There.

Yesterday, we noted the peculiar tribute Tom Brokaw authored to President Bush at one point in the program (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/7/12). But Swonk deserves special recognition for her long list of stupendously fatuous comments.

Good God! David Gregory quoted something Joe Biden said about the ongoing recovery. In her response, Swonk rattled a list of scripted remarks, evoking thoughts of Chance the Gardener as the analysts cheered.

To watch this nightmare, click here:
GREGORY (5/6/12): First of all, Diane Swonk, you heard the vice president say there's no stagnation here. This recovery is in line with past recoveries from steep recessions. Give us a reality check.

SWONK: Well, the reality—first of all, no one piece of data is descriptive. The economy is collective human behavior and the data is our flashlight into an increasingly dense forest of economic information, globally and nationally. So that's the first part to start from.

But the second issue is the reality is, yes, we had a financial crisis. And recovering from a financial crisis, when you take the foundation of capitalism and cut part of it away, it's very difficult to do. And this is a reality we have to deal with.

Now were there mistakes made along the road? Absolutely. Could we have a stronger recovery today if we had less uncertainty in Washington on both sides of the aisle? I'm an equal opportunity offender because I find both sides of the aisle have offended me on their economic policy. And so I think that's one of the key issues is you are stuck within a certain range of growth. Could you have gotten a little bit more if there'd been less uncertainty and less gridlock on both sides of the aisle?

GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

SWONK: Yes, you could have.

Coming up, we've got a fiscal cliff at the end of this year that's being kicked down the road by both sides of the aisle. We've got Europe in crisis with elections that are moving us away from a solution we need in Europe. And Europe is something that could take us along with the fiscal cliff into another recession. These are not things that we have a lot of control over. As Americans, it feels like we don't, but we elected these people and it's time that they work.
Did you know we have "a fiscal cliff that's being kicked down the road by both sides of the aisle?"

Whatever! The analysts roared as Swonk ticked off a list of the world’s most fatuous points—adding the claim that she herself is an “equal opportunity offender” (i.e., a determined centrist):

We had a financial crisis? Check!

Were mistakes made along the way? Check! Without those mistakes, could things be better?

Check!—and then that self-description! But Swonk continued to rattle along:

Absent mistakes, we could have had higher growth! Though Europe could give us another recession! And finally this:

It’s time that the slackers in Congress got working, Swonk said, perfectly “sticking” her dismount.

Good lord! The analysts were dizzied by the perfection of Swonk’s recitation. But soon, she was called on to speak again. In this case, she followed a “centrist” recitation by Brokaw. Again, the fatuity flowed:
SWONK: You know, and adding to that on an economic perspective, is people feel that exact issue is that we do know that problems and gridlock in Washington have contributed to our economic woes and we can blame it on whoever we want to, but the reality is, it's here.

It is— Like I say, I'm an equal opportunity offender because I'm offended equally. But on the other side of it, if we've got an opportunity here, the world is not inevitably going to be bad. If we took an opportunity where you look at most of the American public is they're willing to deal with over a long-term period of tenure, period of time, reducing the deficit. And I think most Republicans and most Democrats, if you sit them down in a room and don't let them talk to any press during the election year they'll come to an agreement on how to do that.


SWONK: And most economists agree on how to do it. And most Americans understand that it's mostly spending and a little taxes and we've got a complicated tax code that needs to be reformed. So all these things can be solved. And the fact that we're not doing it is the frustration is that my kids know how to solve some of these problems.
Concerning our economic problem, the reality is, it’s here! But on the other side of it, we've got an opportunity!

Soon, Swonk reiterated her key point—she's still an equal opportunity offender. Of course, if you just sat the two parties down, they could solve this thing in a minute! Most economists agree how to do it!

As it turned out, even Swonk’s kids know how to fix our problems! The analysts cheered as Swonk recited this final point in the script.

This roundtable was just stupendously bad. More to come on two key figures who haven’t been featured on Sunday, despite the fact that they're very well-known and have published a very tough book.


  1. You're going to mention a book? And it *isn't* going to be Maddow's?? Better duck!

    1. He's probably referring to the Norman Ornstein/Thomas Mann book "It's Even Worse Than It Looks." I haven't read it yet, but it will definitely make my summer reading list.

  2. "And I think most Republicans and most Democrats, if you sit them down in a room and don't let them talk to any press during the election year they'll come to an agreement on how to do that." Didn't we do that, not once, but several times? re: Bohenr-Obama and the budget deal, the Simpson-Bowles commission? How do you get a deal when one side has signed an oath not to compromise one inch (on taxes)?

    1. Good point, Booky301.

      Every once in a while, I hear a pundit or guest offer up this kind of just "sit them down in a room and lock the doors" advice. Usually, I'm left speechless at the naivete and laziness of the comment.

      Jack Welch offered this kind of advice on how to solve the economic crisis, while a guest on "Morning Joe" a couple of years ago. Joe and Mika acted as if it were the wisest thing they'd ever heard.

  3. "it's mostly spending and a little taxes and we've got a complicated tax code that needs to be reformed"

    No, it won't ever get any more vacuous than that. A limit has been reached.

    But we can certainly *remain* this stupid!

  4. I think Bob is completely missing the point. What is actually going on here is a conspiracy to get Saturday Night Live bumped off the air. What's the point in having those comedy writers waste all that time coming up with ways to satirize this? If they wrote something from scratch I really can't imagine how they would write anything different. Sure, the actors could probably add some funnier facial expressions delivering these lines, but look, don't we all get so tired staying up until 11:30 at night anyway? These roundtables are much more convenient showing at the more civilized time of 10am or 10:30. We should all be greatful.

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