Niall Fergsuon responds to the liberal blogosphere

Wednesday, 22 August, 2012

Historian Niall Ferguson did the unthinkable at the weekend. He challenged those ideologically loyal to the Obama White House in a Newsweek cover story titled, “Hit the road Barack: Why we need a new president “. The firestorm that followed scorched all in its path. Did Ferguson run for cover? Far from it, he came out of his holiday retreat swinging hard at the “liberal blogosphere”. When asked if he was surprised by the response to his story, he said:

“No because the liberal blogosphere has a very tried and tested method of attacking an argument it disagrees with. That’s what has happened in this case. The first tactic is to ignore completely the arguments of the piece. The second is then to engage in nitpicking and claim to be fact checking when in fact all you’re offering is a series of alternative opinions. And then you round it off by making hysterical calls for the office resignation. This is such a tried and tested method and I was fully expecting it. The usual suspects, led of course by Paul Krugman, have obliged. But they have not addressed any of the arguments I have made in the piece so I will dismiss them pretty briskly today.”

Typical of the response was “The Real Problem with Niall Ferguson’s Letter to the 1%” by Stephen Marche in Esquire. It contained zero factual information by way of a rebuttal. Back to Ferguson. Asked about how he rates Obama as a leader compared to past US presidents, he said:

“I think a fair comparison, if you accept the argument that this is more like a depression than an ordinary post war recession, would be how does he compare with Franklin Roosevelt. It is clear if you look at the economy or the boldness of the policy response, that it is not in any way of a comparison favorable to Mr. Obama. Roosevelt had a far more decisive grip on his own party and a far greater mastery of the detail of the New Deal legislation. The other point which we have not touched on is a crucial point: how effective is President Obama as a commander in chief. I think there are two points here which are absolutely crucial. The first is the really serious mishandling of what we have come to call the Arab spring, but is more understood as the general revolution in the Middle East going back to Iran in 2009, if not Iraq with Saddam Hussein. The other point is that there’s not been a coherent strategy on China. The single biggest challenge this country faces is China, which will be a larger economy according to the IMF in four years’ time. That seems to be the things the critics to not want to engage — that there has not been a coherent strategy in the White House. Really, since Barack Obama entered it.”

Hit the Road Jack“, which was famously recorded by Ray Charles, takes the form of an argument between a woman and her good-for-nothing man. He tries to wheedle her into letting him stay, but she’s having none of it: “’cause it’s understood: you ain’t got no money, you just ain’t no good.”

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