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But business is business
What, Noonan again! Sorry, just trying to make a point
© 2016 Gage Skidmore, used under a Creative Commons license
I have a Wall Street Journal subscription and I would like to say that I get a lot out of it, but frankly I don’t. I know we’ve been hearing, and some of us have been saying, for years that there’s a news side and an opinion side there and while the latter is a cesspool the former is terrific. Well, I’ve lost faith in that proposition. Oh, I believe there are good reporters there, but a lot of the big WSJ stories have — like a lot of other prestige media front-pagers these days — a whiff of bothsiderism about them.
Here, for example, are the first three paragraphs of today’s WSJ wood, “Mass Layoffs or Hiring Boom? What’s Actually Happening in the Jobs Market”:
Interest rates are rising, inflation is elevated and recession fears linger. Despite all that, employers keep hiring.
The U.S. added 1.1 million jobs over the past three months and ramped up hiring in January. That appears puzzling, given last year’s economic cool down, signs that consumers are pulling back on spending as their savings dwindle, and a stream of corporate layoff announcements, particularly in technology.
Driving the jobs boom are large but often overlooked sectors of the economy. Restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and child-care centers are finally staffing up as they enter the last stage of the pandemic recovery. Those new jobs are more than offsetting cuts announced by huge employers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
(This “puzzling” economic boom story, BTW, is illustrated with a picture of waiters.)
Now, most of us could make a decent stab at explaining these seemingly robust U.S. job figures based on, for example, lower-wage workers being driven back into public-facing jobs by current and imminent removal of COVID protections. But WSJ isn’t doing that — in fact they’re reporting that aspect as part of good news; “‘Knock on wood, things are running like they were before the pandemic,’ [the director of operations at Layne’s Chicken Fingers] said.” (They also claim that “with Covid-19 cases down, fewer workers are concerned about getting or spreading Covid than in the previous two winters when the virus surged,” with no source for their claim.)
The whole story has a kind of wide-eyed “gee, who coulda figured” attitude about the good economic numbers, and I think it’s because current standards require the situation be covered as an ineffable mystery because to do otherwise might lead to a grim conclusion — or make the upturn look like a triumph for Democrats and we certainly wouldn’t want that.
Also in that issue: Peggy Noonan.
I know, I write a lot about her these days, but it’s Friday and I sort of need the easy layup. Plus which it’s a very Noonan kind of story she’s covering — The State of the Union address — and I gotta say it shows both what’s so very old-school and out-of-it about her, and how totally in sync with modern psycho-crazy conservatism she still manages to be.
Noonan is somewhat in sympathy with Biden, who by her lights did the old Reagan cheese ‘n chortles bit: Biden “answered the questions of age and health” and “was vigorous, almost feisty,” she hears — from a former Reagan adviser who’s currently 95 goddamn years old.
And Noonan’s not trying to be funny! She also conveys as credulously the nonagenarian’s claim that Kamala Harris is no good — “California politicos in both parties, he says, were shocked when Biden chose her as vice president in 2020,” Noonan reports — and that Biden actually has to get rid of her — “It’s a messy situation but Biden has to be involved in it.”
It remains SOP to treat Harris as a liability even though no U.S. vice-president, including her, gets much of a chance to do anything but sit there and look Vice-Presidential. It’s mildly interesting that Noonan doesn’t even feint toward an explanation, or mention how much she admires Tim Scott.
But with this Noonan is mainly softening up her reactionary fans for her praise of the ancient warrior Biden, in part for tricking the Republicans into pretending they hadn’t been trying, recently and for years, to destroy Social Security and Medicare:
The Republicans, as we all know, made a mistake in taking his bait. They should have laughed. Instead, when he painted them as dogs they barked and snarled.
You must know this is the opposite of current rightwing strategy, which is to claim Biden lied and that Republicans like Utah Senator Mike Lee were grievously wronged by Biden — notwithstanding that Lee is seen here making who-me faces at Biden despite video evidence that he has openly called for the death of both programs:
Byron York tried this one at the Washington Examiner this week, calling Biden’s claim on GOP designs on the program “BS” before proving, yet again, that it isn’t, by declaring that Medicare must indeed be cut — “just Google ‘Medicare insolvency date,’” a trick they’ve been trying for decades — and that Biden was just hurting these programs by scaring Republicans off saying so and forcing them to instead scream the opposite like injured howler monkeys on the floor of the House, as they did on Tuesday.
Since no one on God’s green earth believes that, Noonan is taking the easy way out — but she still has to show rightwing bona fides: just beating up the black lady won’t cut it. So she tries this:
Some are saying they heard a lot of Bernie Sanders in the speech. I don’t think that’s the headline. The first hour, which contained the parts Mr. Biden’s people wanted the audience to pay attention to, was Trumpian. There was little in it Donald Trump wouldn’t have been happy to say.
Mr. Biden opened with a portrait of decades of economic ruin. The “hollowed out” middle class lost “good paying manufacturing jobs.” “Factories closed down.” “Once thriving cities and towns . . . became shadows of what they used to be.” He evoked the “forgotten,” the “invisible” left behind by 40 years of globalism. “Remember the jobs that went away. You remember them, don’t you? The folks at home remember them.”
This was classic American carnage.
If you are old enough to remember 2017 and the actual Trump “American carnage” inaugural speech, you will know that speech was not about reviving pre-Reagan American industrial and labor policy, as Biden’s State of the Union was, but rather about fear and hatred of Mexican invaders and “the crime, the gangs and the drugs.”
I mean, everyone knows that. Liberals know it; conservatives know it. Why does Noonan pretend not to know it? For the same reason, I guess, that the Wall Street Journal’s editors publish fairy tale stories about the economy — as the old joke goes: You know it’s Moses, I know it’s Moses — business is business.
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