The executive editor for Washington at Bloomberg News, Albert Hunt, has an oddly circular column in which he first rejects as an "exaggeration" the idea that President Obama is getting a "free pass" from a "quiescient press corps" that focuses on style rather than substance -- and then spends the rest of the column arguing that Obama is "like Secretariat, the legendary race horse," and is more compelling than either Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy, the two presidents that Mr. Hunt puts in Mr. Obama's league. "The fawning coverage depicted by some is hyperbole," Mr. Hunt fawns, sounding an awfully lot like a member of that same "quiescent press corps" that he denies exists.
Just to put it in a bit of perspective, under the Reagan administration, 20 million jobs were created, unemployment fell to 5.5% from 7.6%, real GDP grew 26%, and a defense buildup helped to win the Cold War. The top marginal federal income tax rate was cut to 33% from 70%.
Under the Kennedy administration, the top marginal income tax rate was cut to 70% from 91%. The White House Web site claims "His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II." Kennedy also faced down the Soviets at the Cuban Missile Crisis and in Berlin, set the goal of landing a man on the moon, and is credited by at least some with beginning the U.S.-Israel alliance.
So far under President Obama, by comparison, the economy has lost more than 2 million jobs, General Motors has gone bankrupt, the unemployment rate has increased to 9.4% in May from 7.6% in January, and the big discussion in Washington is which taxes to increase and by how much. On foreign policy, it took the administration nearly a week to decide whether to speak out forcefully in favor of protests aimed at ousting a Holocaust-denying, terrorist-sponsoring, nuclear-bomb-building leader in Iran, and by the time the administration reached a conclusion, many protesters had been killed. The president's other big foreign policy initiative was a speech in Cairo that Mortimer Zuckerman, the American Jewish leader and businessman whose newspaper, the Daily News, endorsed Mr. Obama, said the other day that he had found "very distressing," "really troubling," and "very unfortunate" in respect of Israel.
Now, it may be that by the end of his administration or with the perspective of history, Mr. Obama's accomplishments are ranked as a success in league with Reagan's or Kennedy's. But that the executive editor for Washington at a key business wire service is already placing him in that company, less than half-a-year into the presidency, suggests that if the "quiescient press corps" Mr. Hunt describes is indeed an exaggeration, it is an exaggeration with at least some underlying basis in reality.