New York, N.Y.–New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says he believes the United States needs a “mega-Watergate” scandal to uncover a far-reaching right-wing conspiracy, going back forty years, to gain control of the U.S. government and roll back civil rights.
Krugman made the comments during a forum, “Books on Bush,” at New York University Monday evening. While other authors present–former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, and House of Bush, House of Saud author Craig Unger–directed their fire at the Bush administration, Krugman told the crowd that the president is simply a front man for larger and more sinister forces.
“We probably make a mistake when we place too much emphasis on Bush the individual,” said Krugman, who received a standing ovation when he was introduced. “This really isn’t about Bush. Bush is the guy that the movement found to take them over the top. But it didn’t start with him, and it won’t end with him. What’s going on in this country is that a radical movement…that had been building for several decades, finally found their moment and their man in Bush.”
Krugman said he and other liberals had been “asleep” and unaware of the true dimensions of the danger during the years in which President Bill Clinton found himself facing a variety of scandal allegations. But Krugman said there is a “complete continuity” between today’s politics and the “campaign of slander and innuendo” against Clinton. “There’s complete continuity going back, really, I think–but this is my next book–you really need to go back to Goldwater. A lot of this has to do with civil rights, and the people who don’t like them.”
Krugman described the conspiracy as “the coalition between the malefactors of great wealth and the religious right.” He offered no further details about who, precisely, is in the conspiracy but said that “substantial chunks of the media are part of this same movement.”
“It’s a movement that has been building,” Krugman told the audience. “The one thing I think that you really have to say is that people on the left–the position formerly known as the center–people like myself have been asleep for a long time. We just didn’t take it seriously. We sat through all the Clinton scandals and said oh, you know, there’s probably some funny stuff going on there [and] didn’t understand the extent to which this movement was being built.”
Now, Krugman said, getting rid of George W. Bush is “necessary but not sufficient” to repair the damage done by the right. “The answer, I think, my great hope now, is that we need an enormous unearthing of the scandals that we know have taken place,” Krugman said. “We need a mega-Watergate that rocks them back.”