Manufacturing in the U.S. contracted for a third month in August, the longest slide since the recession ended and a sign the expansion is at risk of losing a source of strength.
Bad news, obviously. For "the economy," which is sometimes treated as though it were a mysterious and capricious force of nature that leaves us at the mercy of "headwinds," and the things that grow or shrink "unexpectedly." So, this decline will be treated at the Democratic convention, if it is mentioned at all, as something unfortunate for which Washington, the current administration and, most of all, the president, are not responsible.
George Bush, though, is a different matter. If there is blame to be attached to any mortal, then it is he.
It is interesting to imagine how the news would have been treated had there been a robust increase in manufacturing over the last few months, if people were finding work, and the GDP were growing at a clip of 5 percent or better. Then, one feels sure, we would be hearing from Charlotte about the expert handling people who know, really know, what it takes to jump start an economy, get it in gear, put it on the road, and drive it to prosperity.
People, perhaps, like Jon Corzine.