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We Stalked. He Balked.
The Truth Squad is getting to Mr. Krugman.


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Donald L. Luskin

It’s beginning to work. The Krugman Truth Squad has America’s most dangerous liberal pundit — columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times — on the run.

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Since we first exposed Krugman’s egregious lies about President Bush’s tax cuts in his April 22 column, he has now published no fewer than seven increasingly defensive and desperate responses on his personal website.

Reacting to his first column on the subject, we caught him claiming that Bush’s tax cuts would cost $500,000 for each $40,000 new job they created, although that $500,000 is a ten-year cost (and the highest possible estimate of that cost) and the $40,000 is only a single-year’s salary.

His seven responses have been spread over five postings (one, two, three, four, and five). Since we reported on his first response, his strategy has been to conceal his tax-cut falsehood under an increasingly smelly heap of academic economic jargon, charts, and graphs — all designed to bamboozle the unsophisticated into thinking there’s a rationale that explains his lie, and that he had that rationale in mind all along.

The good news is that Krugman is clearly shaken by the new experience of having somebody dare to challenge his insouciant lying. He’s even starting to get personal — referring to me in his latest posting as his “stalker-in-chief.” But he’s definitely feeling chastised. In his last three columns for the Times he hasn’t dared to mention Bush’s tax plan.

But he is still America’s most dangerous liberal pundit. Even his serially debunked lies inevitably get used as talking points by liberal politicians and other left-leaning pundits who are too lazy to make up their own lies. Several ex-officio members of the Krugman Truth Squad let me know that Congressman Harold Ford (D., Tenn.) repeated the Bush tax-cut lie to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan during a question-and-answer session in the House Financial Services Committee last week. (Greenspan just rolled his eyes and moved on.) Larry Kudlow, my National Review Online colleague, told me that congressman Ben Cardin (D., Md.) repeated the lie last week on CNBC’s Kudlow and Cramer — and Kudlow delayed a commercial break while he shoved it back down Cardin’s throat.

A Truth Squad mole, one planted deep in the limousine-liberal bowels of Goldman Sachs, told me that the same Krugman lie has even been repeated (without attribution) in the “Talk of the Town” column of this week’s New Yorker, that former bastion of fanatical fact-checking and brave bulwark against casual plagiarism. How the mighty have fallen. If we can’t trust the New Yorker on tax cuts, how can we trust it on Eminem?

So, what about Krugman’s columns since the infamous April 22 effort? Don’t worry — Krugman may be chastened a bit, but the Truth Squad has not let down its guard.

Last week, one of his columns attempted to prove that while Bush may have won the war with Iraq, it was an illegitimate war to begin with. Krugman wrote,

Sure enough, we have yet to find any weapons of mass destruction. It’s hard to believe that we won’t eventually find some poison gas or crude biological weapons. But those aren’t true W.M.D.’s. . . . Remember that President Bush made his case for war by warning of a “mushroom cloud.” Clearly, Iraq didn’t have anything like that — and Mr. Bush must have known that it didn’t.

Poison gas or crude biological weapons are not true WMDs? Try telling that to a dead Kurd gassed by Saddam Hussein. Be that as it may, Krugman Truth Squad member Mathew Hoy wonders on his blog, HoyStory.com, why Krugman is in such a hurry to find WMDs:

Krugman and his starry-eyed doves were willing to give U.N. weapons inspectors many more months (or years) to find banned weapons, but want the U.S. armed forces, which were until very recently fighting a war, to have these things found yesterday.

And how about Bush’s “warning of a ‘mushroom cloud’” when he “must have known” that Iraq didn’t have nuclear weapons? Truth Squad member Tom Maguire points out his blog, Just One Minute, that if you go back to Bush’s October 8, 2002, speech, he gave this supposed “warning” precisely in the context of admitting that he didn’t know absolutely whether or not Iraq had nuclear weapons, but that he didn’t feel it was prudent to wait. The president said, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

Yesterday’s column was another attempt by Krugman to rain on Bush’s post-Iraq parade. It mocked Bush for his dramatic jet landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, and portrayed it as a betrayal of the decent traditions of the American presidency. According to Krugman,

. . . American presidents traditionally make a point of avoiding military affectations. Dwight Eisenhower was a victorious general and John Kennedy a genuine war hero, but while in office neither wore anything that resembled military garb. . . . There was a time when patriotic Americans from both parties would have denounced any president who tried to take political advantage of his role as commander in chief. But that, it seems, was another country.

This is all the worse because, according to Krugman, Bush “skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam.” There’s even a source citation for that claim — practically a Krugman first! — and it’s none other than the Boston Globe, an affiliate of the Times. But Krugman Truth Squad senior member Andrew Sullivan has discovered that the Times, after subsequent investigation, reported that “some of those concerns may be unfounded.”

An ex officio Truth Squad member showed me that National Guard magazine (the official magazine of the National Guard Association of the United States, and not affiliated with the Times in any way except to defend it in time of war) explained in its January 2001 issue that some “reports charged that [Bush] was absent for a year.” But that’s meaningless. It was the accumulation of the required number of days of service that earned Bush his honorable discharge.

As I pointed out on my blog, The Conspiracy To Keep You Poor And Stupid, Krugman is again lying when he suggests that Bush is the first president to take advantage of his role as commander in chief. Ex officio Truth Squad members have sent me ample proof. Here’s one item: a picture (courtesy of the Special Electronic Mission Aircraft site) of President Clinton wearing something that most assuredly “resembled military garb.” And if memory serves, weren’t there some questions about the enthusiasm with which Clinton embraced his military obligations?

Krugman Truth Squad member Robert Musil points out on his blog, Man Without Qualities, that Democrat Michael Dukakis played soldier while he was a candidate for the presidency. Musil writes,

Michael Dukakis (in)famously donned military garb and climbed into a United States army tank in his failing attempt to obtain the Presidency. Unfortunately, his opponent, George H. W. Bush, ran a highly effective campaign commercial making use of the fact that Mr. Dukakis looked like a ridiculous twerp during his tank ride. . . . The Bush commercial juxtaposed Mr. Dukakis’s obvious lack of familiarity with, and discomfort in, that tank with his generally anti-defense positions.

For Krugman to strike the same chord with the American public that Bush the Elder’s commercial did, George W. Bush would have to be as uncomfortable and foolish in the role of commander in chief as Dukakis promised to be. But as Bush’s performances during the Iraq war and on the deck of the Lincoln show, he is neither uncomfortable nor foolish — and based on the polls, the American people know it.

In fact, it’s Paul Krugman and the liberal opponents of Bush who are looking uncomfortable and foolish these days.



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