Greenspan: Savior or charlatan?

Online posters ask: Can a half-point save the economy? Also: Will Spielberg's Lincoln be racist? Plus: Bob Barr has some readjustment problems


Anthony York
March 21, 2001 1:30AM (UTC)

Big buzz

On this first day of spring, when the Federal Reserve met to cut interest rates again, a Net-wide reassessment of Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, and his role in the current economic downturn, was in full blossom.

On ABCNews.com, Betsy Stark puts it this way: "Greenspan's reputation as chief architect of the boom is so pervasive that he has become something of a pop icon ... he's so square, he's cool. But with the economy faltering and the markets unraveling, that reputation has taken a tarnishing lately, and many say deservedly so."

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The aforementioned tarnishing was in full force at the Free Republic, half-point cut be damned. "I'm not sure he ever had it to begin with. He made Clinton president by tightening excessively in 1990 and then waiting too long to start loosening," writes one Freeper. "He began squeezing the money supply back in 1994 and almost put the economy back into recession. The main reason it didn't happen was because we were rebounding from the previous recession, and the economy had a lot of momentum built up. Everybody thought he was a genius for engineering a 'soft landing.'"

The question was also being bandied about on the Table Talk thread titled "Alan Greenspan: 'Maestro' of Evil, or Savior of the Global Economy?" While Greenspan may be touted as an economic hero in many media stories, his supporters online are in short supply.

"Greenspan is just a puppet and stooge for those who own the Federal Reserve. He is no monetary genius, just a lackey for the rich," writes one talker.

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"I'm afraid that the press has in some ways allowed Greenspan to become a permanent installment at the Central Bank. Any article about Greenspan basically memorializes him and his 'Fed speak' and does little else," writes another.

Over at SiliconInvestor.com, David Zgodzinski speculates that Greenspan may be employing a bit of Bush-like strategy. "But most still see Al biding his time and waiting for the cards to come up just right, waiting for his opponents to take him for granted."

Weblines

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Drudge Report: "Ringing Cell Phone Irks Bush ..."
Feed: "How Willard Scott Came to Be Suspended in a Manhattan Air Shaft"
GOP USA.com: "Close Vote Kicks Off Campaign Finance Reform Debate"
Jonah Goldberg: Horowitz's anti-reparations stunt is, perhaps, a useful one.
BuzzFlash.com: "BuzzFlash Exposes Conservative Columnist Robert Novak"
Peter Beinart: "Region is becoming the central cleavage in the politics of drugs."
Andrew Sullivan: "Olive branch to Richard Cohen"
Democrats.com: "Shrub Visits Orlando on Wednesday -- Major Protests Planned"

Anger Management
Steven Spielberg's latest project -- a biographic epic about Abraham Lincoln that the Sunday London Times said would cast the former president as a "manic-depressive racist who nearly lost the American Civil War," was the top item for more than 24 hours on the Drudge Report, introducing the story to the online world, and setting off more than a few new threads.

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"I wonder if this will spell the end of young Americans memorising the Gettysburg Address?," asks lblack on a Plastic.com post. Another, defeated-sounding poster responds: "Sure, let's deconstruct everyone, and in the process prove that where we are today is the product of mere chance. What's the point of trying to improve society if you know that someday a historian will prove you didn't really mean it that way?"

With Clinton gone, Barr finds new inane crusade[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., is looking for a post-impeachment villain, and has focused on Washington's Metro system. Barr is threatening to freeze all the system's funding unless Metro officials change maps, signs and documents to attach "Ronald Reagan'' to the name of the subway stop at the airport that now bears the former president's name. The airport's name was officially changed during the last Congress, but the Metro stations still label the stop "National Airport."

To fill the rest of his free time in the post-Clinton era, Barr has introduced legislation that would allow American presidents to order the assassination of foreign leaders. An op-ed piece in Barr's hometown newspaper describes Barr's new antics this way: "We are only now learning just how bereft and forlorn Bill Clinton's departure has left Congress, the Republicans, and that indefatigable protector of our rights, Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia. With nobody around to impeach, Barr is having trouble getting onto 'Geraldo' and ''Hardball' to put in his nightly hour of yelling, and you know how grouchy a congressman can become if he can't shout incoherently for an hour before bedtime. So Barr has found a new whipping boy."

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Posters at Lucianne.com were shocked -- shocked! -- than any journalist could be so gosh darn mean! "Do liberal columnists have nothing better to do than to trash the memory of Reagan and support those whose actions disobey directives concerning the memories of those whom most Americans wish to honor but liberals hate?" writes one. "While I do not regard Barr's efforts here as being of high priority (the proposed tax cut, for instance, is much more important), I am outraged at the snide, nasty and superior attitude of the meathead who wrote this article."

But the Freepers, normally big Barr boosters, had some surprisingly harsh words for the conservative Republican congressman. "Barr's asleep at the wheel," writes one. "He needs to get off the Nyquil cough syrup."

For more Red vs. Blue, click here.

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Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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