In 2004, a Bush cabinet official said job creation and GDP numbers matter, but "the stock market is ... the final arbiter" of economic success.
If that's true, eight years later, Republicans ought to be awfully impressed with President Obama.
Through Friday, since Mr. Obama's inauguration -- his first 1,368 days in office -- the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 67.9 percent. That's an extremely strong performance -- the fifth best for an equivalent period among all American presidents since 1900. The Bespoke Investment Group calculated those returns for The New York Times.
The best showing occurred in Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term, when the market rose by a whopping 238.1 percent. Of course, that followed a calamitous decline. When his term started, the Dow had fallen to one-fourth of its former peak. In 2008, the year before Mr. Obama took office, the Dow declined by roughly one-third.
In the last half-century, the president who's overseen the strongest performance on Wall Street was Bill Clinton. The second best? Barack Obama, easily.
As we talked about in April, this also suggests Obama is the worst socialist of all time. A soaring stock market, record high corporate profits, private sector job growth ... it's almost as if the president didn't listen to Karl Marx at all.
All joking aside, I don't consider major Wall Street indexes a reliable metric when it comes to measuring the health of the economy. Indeed, it's not even close.
But here's the kicker: Obama's detractors do consider major Wall Street indexes a reliable metric when it comes to measuring the health of the economy.
As long time readers may recall, the Wall Street Journal ran an entire editorial in early March 2009 arguing that the weak Dow Jones was a direct result of investors evaluating "Mr. Obama's agenda and his approach to governance."
Karl Rove and Lou Dobbs made the same case. So did Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fred Barnes. For a short while, it was one of Mitt Romney's favorite talking points, too. Even John Boehner got in on the larger attack.
I don't think a strong stock market is necessarily proof of a robust economy, but I also don't think the right should have it both ways. If a bear market in 2009 is, in the minds of conservatives, clear proof that Obama's agenda is misguided and dangerous, then soaring Wall Street indexes shouldn't be dismissed by those same detractors as politically irrelevant.