And then Joshua Tucker has a follow-up, in which he basically says what I meant to say in my post. Well, I think so, anyway. What I meant to say is only: there may -- may! -- be a point at which our standard models, which say that the president suffers from economic hard times full stop, do not fully apply. Tucker:
So let’s start at an extreme. If every Republican member of Congress went out and simultaneously tried to physically destroy an important facet of the US economic infrastructure (and admit it, this would make a great scene in a Bruce Willis movie), then I think that we would all agree that that time would be different.That's, basically, all I wanted to say. But then, of course, we have to think about it. It doesn't really matter, presumably, whether GOP MCs actually try to physically undermine the economy; what matters is whether voters believe it. Moreover, I'm not actually prepared to go ahead and say it would definitely be different. Perhaps the outcome would be that people want to string up GOP MCs...and then, since the economy stinks, they wind up less likely to support Barack Obama in the next election, anyway.
In other words, I'm not confident that we know. I'm not confident that the stuff about bad weather and football (go to John's post) really applies to this case, because I'm not confident that it's a similar enough situation to anything in the past.
I'll put it another way. I agree with Nate Silver when he says that "There’s no especially appropriate precedent for the economy tanking by such an immediate and direct result of action (or inaction) in Washington." But I disagree with his previous sentence, which is that "Whatever else the 2012 election would be if the debt limit is not raised in a timely fashion, it would not be a normal case." On that, I think we can only say: maybe.
It is totally reasonable to be skeptical of "this time it's different" talk. Most of the time, I'm on John's side on that. There's always going to be some slightly new twist to almost any political phenomenon, and in most cases the new twists are a lot less important than the similarities. I'm just not certain that this case would fit that way.