Paul Krugman corrected my earlier comment to note that he in fact did say that the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions were qualitatively different than prior ones in that the recoveries did not have the same sort of strong bounce back that followed prior recessions. These recessions were also attributable at least in part to the collapse of asset bubbles. In this sense, the 2007-2009 downturn is not unique.
This is certainly fair, but at the risk of picking nits, there is another important point. Given the weakness of the current recovery, we all agree (I'm implicating Mike Konczal here as well) that stimulatory fiscal policy was and is appropriate to boost the economy out of the current downturn. However, are we in agreement that fiscal stimulus would have been useful following the 2001 downturn and perhaps the 1990-1991 recession also?
That seems to me the bigger issue. Maybe we are all in agreement and think that a fiscal response would have been appropriate for these prior two recessions as well, but I am not sure on this point.
("Knit" corrected, thanks folks.)