Monday, February 11, 2008

Krugman II

I swear I hadn't read Paul Krugman's latest column this morning when I wrote my last post, but it's kind of relevant. Krugman is showing a side I haven't seen since 2000, when he preferred to address the dirty fucking hippies made of straw in his head.
Why, then, is there so much venom out there?

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.
Okay, first of all, Krugman could have looked up some actual numbers here. Because believe it or not, no matter who you are, your email inbox is not a statistical sample. It's the primary season, for fuck's sake, and we're not exactly in the middle of a poll drought. So you could see the exit polls from that distant land of yore, Super Tuesday. Also known as last week. Hilzoy did exactly that, and found that there's almost no difference between Obama and Clinton supporters and their support for the rival candidate.

Remember what I was saying about Krugman's problem with easily-attained evidence? He was attacking anti-globalization protesters when all the evidence shows that the era of the Washington Consensus has been worse for the poor around the globe. Lower wages, lower wage growth, and more debt. Not too hard to find out, but back then Krugman said we were just a bunch of spoiled rich kids who hated the poor.

But back to Obama -- suppose it had been true? What would that prove? Only that Obama is attracting independents and even some Republicans*, who are exactly the kind of people you would expect to say things like "Well if it ain't Obama I'm voting McCain." But no, it can't be that -- it has to be a cult, a scary freaky personality cult like the one they had in the USSR! Even economists should understand Occam's Razor.

Tucker Carlson is a waste of flesh, but he did have one good moment in his life. In 2000, after McCain won New Hampshire against Bush, Carlson was asked if he thought McCain was a maverick. He said "well, I don't know, he does have a day job as a United States Senator." Point being, McCain could only be a maverick by the standards of the US Senate. People who think that Paul Krugman is a leader for liberals need to remember he has a part-time job as a New York Times columnist, and can only be a liberal by the standards of the NYT op-ed page. Which now includes Bill Kristol.

*Attracting independents and soft GOP in to the Democratic Party has it's own perils, I will readily admit. But seriously, could the Democrats be any more useless? Besides, rather than worry about reddening the Democrats with yokels, I prefer to believe the opportunity here is to get them voting for the right Party, show them that the government can work with them and for them, and cobble together a new coalition. But you need the votes first, then build the tribe.

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