Mr. Glenn Greenwald was kind enough to respond to one of my Tweets yesterday in which, as befits the medium, I made the somewhat simplistic comment that Paul Krugman is a Democrat hack. Glenn disagreed with my characterization, and even pointed out that Krugman (or his editors) referred to the president as “Barack Herbert Hoover Obama.”
Glenn Greenwald is probably a lot smarter than I am, so I’ve tried to take his argument seriously. Maybe Paul Krugman isn’t a committed, partisan Democrat. Maybe he’s an honest academic, or just a passionate advocate of beliefs which traditionally align him with the Democrats. I’ve combed the archives to find the truth.
Here’s Krugman from Fenruary 8th, 2010:
It should be a simple message (and it should have been the central message in Massachusetts): a vote for a Republican, no matter what you think of him as a person, is a vote for paralysis. But by now, we know how the Obama administration deals with those who would destroy it: it goes straight for the capillaries.
Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.
Here we get a two-fer: Republicans suck, and Obama just doesn’t hit them hard enough. Points in the “Democrat” column, sure, but I’m becoming convinced that’s a simplistic reading. Krugman is not so much a Democrat as he is insane, a creature summoned to life from Aaron Sorkin’s detoxing fever dreams.
First, note his use of the word “destroy” to characterize Obama’s political opponents. To me, it seems like an odd word choice. But my mind is not steeped in the heroic combat narrative of Paul Krugman’s imagination. When I watch the news, I largely see self-interested politicians. Human beings with some small ideological core, right or left, who mostly just want to hang on to power and get on TV and what have you. But Paul Krugman sees a holy war; John Boehner doesn’t want to vote down Democratic bills. He wants to destroy the administration! (Question for Mr. Krugman: When you pull the lever for Mr. Obama this Fall, will you be voting to “destroy” his opponent?)
And of course, the closer: “America is not lost…” Verily, we teeter on the rain-slick precipice of darkness, Mr. Krugman. Not only is America dangerously close to being “lost,” it’s that dastardly US Senate that’s doing it. We’re standing on the edge of a canyon, and Orrin Hatch is creeping up behind, ready to hurl us to our national doom. Here we see the eschatological vein that runs through much of Krugman’s writing. Not only a crusade, but quite possibly the last crusade.
Yes, it’s a scary world out there. Here’s Krugman from a few weeks ago:
Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.
There’s a lot to nitpick here. First, how is that “unsayable?” I feel like it’s been said a lot recently. In fact, wasn’t it just said by… Paul Krugman? And I’m supposed to be terrified that a moderate who worked for the current Democratic president isn’t a serious candidate in the GOP primary? Next you’ll tell me Joe Lieberman has no chance of victory if he primaries Obama. Terrifying! Not just important, enormously important!
But what really got people’s attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”
He’s quoting Rick Perry here. Perry, as far as I can tell, is right. Scientists have fudged numbers and faked surveys. Al Gore is surely not alone in lining his pockets from this particular moral crusade. Does that mean there is no global warming? Of course not. I would call Perry’s position “rational skepticism,” but I suppose “vile” works, too. When proving your science chops, it always helps to call the other guy’s thoughts “vile.” Remember: It’s not about refuting what your opponents say, it’s about making yourself and your readers get that warm, morally-superior feeling.
Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?
Good question! You’re probably making seven-figures writing op-eds based on little else, so it’s working for somebody.
Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.
Terrifying! There’s so much to be afraid of in Krugman-world. Also, anti-knowledge: Heh. I saw a reporter try to explain the concept of a heliocentric universe to Rick Perry once, and he just plugged his ears and started yelling. On the plus side, though, the parties are gonna be awesome when our new caveman overlords take over. Virgin sacrifice, chants to the sun god… gonna be like old times.
Alternatively, how’s this for terrifying: Four more years of failed trillion-dollar stimulus packages and bailouts that, no matter which party hands them out, wind up in the hands of the politically connected while the economy keeps circling the drain? Nah, you’re right; Southern accent is way scarier.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
That’s the real money graf from Krugman’s 9/11 piece, the elevation of “professional pundits.” In his mind, Paul Krugman is a hero, fighting for us every day out there on the front lines. His enemies are legion. They are “vile,” “terrifying,” “fake heroes” bent on destruction.
So, I’m convinced. Krugman doesn’t write to support the Democratic party. He writes to support his banal, childish “West Wing” fantasy of good politicians in white hats, and their steadfast, loyal sidekicks in the press, shooting it out with those regressive troglodytes from flyover country.