Sunday, December 04, 2011


Paul Krugman is a cynical writer. He is, by all accounts, a brilliant economic mind. However, his opinion pieces are notoriously bracing and shallow.

There is good reason for this. Economic analysis isn't necessarily glorious stuff. It doesn't net you a high six-figure salary or bit parts in Jonah Hill movies. So, we get this.

Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today.

You have to have extensive political experience. The top three candidates, Gingrich, Romney and Paul, each has a pretty extensive track record of... Oh, that's not what he's talking about.

You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year
Yep, parties have different, even disparate, constituencies. Krugman hits it on the head.

— and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!).

See, there are two types of Krugman op-eds. The first is where he offers a half-assed pseudo-economic "analysis" of some chart or trend. The second is red meat that keeps readers intrigued enough to read the stuff with the maths in it. That's okay, because he blogs for a small-town paper in Western Montana, right? Death panels!

And you also have to denounce President Obama,
If you're going to run against him, you might as well. I guess. Nobody's really tried this strategy before, denouncing the incumbent, so we'll see how it works.

who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security.
Or just declare he's a crappy, unqualified president with bad ideas that haven't worked. That seems to be the general sentiment, no? To the point, didn't the left accuse Bush of being a radical arch-conservative for signing a Ted Kennedy education bill and pursuing a foreign policy course? How is this different?

Mitt Romney embodies the first option. He’s not a stupid man; he knows perfectly well, to take a not incidental example, that the Obama health reform is identical in all important respects to the reform he himself introduced in Massachusetts — but that doesn’t stop him from denouncing the Obama plan as a vast government takeover that is nothing like what he did.

Actually, he hasn't done that. At all. That's why he is being criticized for his health care plan. This is the primary criticism of Romney from conservative circles, and Krugman pretends it doesn't exist. Strikes me as cynical.

He presumably knows how to read a budget, which means that he must know that defense spending has continue (sic) to rise under the current administration

It's a bit petty pointing out the typo, since this is just an internal newsletter for the IT department of a steel consortium.

He isn’t a stupid man — but he seems to play one on TV.

If true, there will be an authenticity gap, should he face Obama in the general.

Unfortunately from his point of view, however, his acting skills leave something to be desired, and his insincerity shines through. So the base still hungers for someone who really, truly believes what every candidate for the party’s nomination must pretend to believe. Yet as I said, the only way to actually believe the modern G.O.P. (sic) catechism is to be completely clueless.

Catechism? Above, Krugman asserted GOPers are conflicted. Now we have a catechism? Does Krugman know what a catechism is? Here's how I envision this last sentence looked before Krugman sent it off to his editors.

Yet as I said, the only way to actually believe the modern G.O.P. (PK: ed. please insert religious sounding word here) is to be completely clueless (PK: ed. is it G.O.P. or GOP? Someone please check. I can't be bothered)
Since Krugman's editor apparently couldn't be bothered, either, I'll rewrite this sentence so that looks less like it was written by a homeless alcoholic:
You have to be completely clueless to embrace the modern GOP doctrine.
Much better.
Think in particular of Rick Perry, a conservative true believer who seemingly had everything it took to clinch the nomination — until he opened his mouth.

I agree with this analysis, such as it is. Just annoyed by the use of the em-dash.

Many observers seem surprised that Mr. Gingrich’s, well, colorful personal history isn’t causing him more problems, but they shouldn’t be. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, conservatives often seem inclined to accept that tribute, voting for candidates who publicly espouse conservative moral principles whatever their personal behavior.

This is a very convoluted way of saying conservatives will vote for hypocrites, which doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of the piece. It does nothing to indicate Republicans are clueless. It's utterly gratuitous.

(PK: ed. please insert a paragraph about what this says about current state of the G.O.P. I have a plane to catch)
There we go.

Did I mention that David Vitter is still in the Senate?
Yep, and you attributed it to this:

Because where liberals see gross hypocrisy, conservatives see men doing the Lord’s work — which partially excuses their own failings...
To which: Gore. Mansions.
And my sense is that he’s also very good at doublethink — that even when he knows what he’s saying isn’t true, he manages to believe it while he’s saying it.
To which: Glass. Houses.

Of course, given the terrible economic picture and the tendency of voters to blame whoever holds the White House for bad times, even a deeply flawed G.O.P. nominee might very well win the presidency. But then what?

The economy will turn around. Paul Krugman will attribute said growth to the stimulus Obama passed four years prior, and argue we would have seen a faster turnaround if only there had been more stimulus. I guarantee you this is what will happen.

The Washington Post quotes an unnamed Republican adviser who compared what happened to Mr. Cain, when he suddenly found himself leading in the polls, to the proverbial tale of the dog who had better not catch that car he’s chasing. “Something great and awful happened, the dog caught the car. And of course, dogs don’t know how to drive cars. So he had no idea what to do with it.”

I like that the unnamed adviser:

a) Felt compelled to explain his metaphor.
b) Did so inaccurately*.

If the dog actually catches the car — the actual job of running the U.S. government —

I like that Krugman feels the need to explain his metaphor.

And what will happen then?

I just answered this quest... Oh, you're done.

Krugman knows his guy is in power and the economy has gone all to hell, right? To strain the metaphor, it's like Jeff Daniels trading the poochmobile for a vespa in Dumb and Dumber.

See, Jim Carrey's character is Krugman, Jeff Daniels is Obama, the poochmobile was the American economy he traded for a vespa. It's a metaphor for how everyone who disagrees with me is a dumb-dumb.

Or something. What do I know? I'm cluelessly supporting the G.O.P. catechism.

* - Dogs chase any number of things they do not know how to operate. This is unremarkable. If they catch a car, they are liable to be run over, is the idea. I mean, all of Krugman's fans had already posted this to Facebook and Twitter by this point, so mission accomplished, but the entire conclusion of this piece makes no real sense.


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