Tuesday, March 31, 2009

'08, '09, and '010 (!?)

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday.

He was appropriately circumspect about the market's most recent reactions to his proclamations, having been humbled by seeing the Dow tumble some 400 points while he was speaking.

As is his way, Mr. Stephanopoulos was trying to put words into Mr. Geithner's mouth about when things would get better, how much they'd get better, how much it would cost, and so on.

Mr. Geithner succesfully redirected. That's what the PR types call it when you dodge a direct question and segue into a way to reinforce your message. Those dodges often start with things like "That's not what the American people want to know, George...what this administration is trying to do is..." and so on. We think most people do want to know the answer to precisely what was being asked, and can spot a redirect a mile away. You can tell when a politician is doing that. His or her lips are moving.

That's not our point.

During the conversation, Mr. Geithner referred to this year as "oh-nine" as so many of us do.

Brace yourselves, please.

He then made a bit of speculation about the following year. "Oh-ten" he called it.

To be sure, we've had nine consecutive years of single digit years, so one might be inclined to forgive such as slip.

We're not, though, since (1) we hear it so frequently that it's like nails on our chalkboard calendar and (2) this is a man of numbers -- we're more than a little disappointed that his oral comments suggest he doesn't understand the number of digits in the base of our counting system.

Gives you confidence that the growth, revenue, spending, and (gulp) deficit projections are right, though, doesn't it?

We suspect, given the way things are moving, that "oh-ten" will be just as good a year for the current administration as "oh-six" and "oh-eight" were for the last one.

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