THE BLOG
09/22/2008 05:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

G.O.P. Press Release: "How The Democrats Created The Financial Crisis"

Some of my posts take a good deal of research. Others are so easy it feels like cheating. And then there's this one, which mainly consists of passing along a press release which to my jaundiced eye doesn't even pass the laugh test -- but decide for yourself:

An arm of the Republican National Committee calling itself the "RNC Research Department" periodically issues press releases under the banner, "RNC Research Briefing." A few minutes ago I received one such "Research Briefing" with this subject line:

Subject: In Case You Missed It: How The Democrats Created The Financial Crisis

The press release then refers its readers -- the nation's political journalists and bloggers -- to an OpEd written by Kevin Hassett, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute.

Hassett is best known as the coauthor of a bestselling 1999 book titled Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market, which argued that the stock market was undervalued, advised people to invest heavily in stocks, and predicted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would rise to 36,000 sometime between 2002 and 2004.

As it turns out, the Dow peaked in 2000 at just over 11,000, tanked to under 7,300 in 2002 when the tech bubble burst and G.W. Bush's economic chickens started coming home to roost, and has barely managed to reach 14,000 since then. So much for Mr. Hassett's economic prescience.

Hassett's coauthor, James K. Glassman, currently serves the Bush Administration as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs -- a strange little office formerly held by longtime Bush advisor Karen Hughes, whose association with Mr. Bush dates back to his Texas days.

Here's the American Enterprise Institute, per Wikipedia:

"AEI has emerged as one of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy. More than twenty AEI alumni and current visiting scholars and fellows have served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions. Former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a visiting scholar, and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a senior fellow."

One good example of the AEI's approach to things is how it feels about the idea of regulating the financial industry to prevent freewheeling excesses like those that caused the recent, and incomprehensibly expensive, meltdown in financial markets. Even John McCain is starting, belatedly, to catch on to the idea that reasonable regulations are indispensable to a healthy capital market -- but AEI's website features in-house scholars arguing that regulation itself, not the absence of it, is at least partly responsible for Wall Street's woes, and another making the case that more regulation would actually make matters worse.

So an economist whose one notable book proved (to many investors' detriment) to be spectacularly incorrect, whose coauthor is an official in the Bush Administration, and whose employer is a major architect of the financial troubles now buffeting the nation and still inexplicably argues for less regulation of the financial industry, publishes an OpEd claiming it's all the Democrats' fault -- and the Republican National Committee circulates his opinion to the nation's political journalists as gospel.

You can draw your own conclusions about whether or not the Grand Old Party is grasping at straws -- and whether policies in Washington will change if another Republican administration continues in power -- except that, in the interests of fairness and balance, I'll point out one portion of the RNC's circular excerpting Mr. Hassett's OpEd that's indisputably true:

A Product Of The RNC Research Department -- Paid for by the Republican National Committee.

A .pdf version of the press release, also provided by the Republican Party, can be read
here.