Imminent, Ongoing Exaggeration
. . . every Tuesday and Friday.


Donald L. Luskin

In his most recent New York Times column, America’s most dangerous liberal pundit, Paul Krugman, asks the rhetorical question, “Am I exaggerating?”

Here’s the Krugman Truth Squad’s non-rhetorical answer: Yes! Ja! Da! Oui! Si! Hai! The Squad always knows exactly when Krugman is exaggerating — every Tuesday and Friday.

This time the exaggerations (and the lies and the distortions and the out-of-context quotes and the bogus statistics and all the rest) are in service of the newspaper’s latest “flood the zone” attack on President Bush. The Times and Krugman are trying to make it appear that Bush lied about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Krugman stated,

The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra.

This reminds one of his January 29, 2002, column, written back when the Enron zone was being flooded by the Times. Was he exaggerating when he wrote,

I predict that in the years ahead Enron, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society.

Looks like a pattern. But lets judge his latest dance with the gods of hyperbole.

Was Bush lying when he told the public that Saddam Hussein was an “imminent threat”? Krugman Truth Squad member David Hogberg said “no” on his blog, Cornfield Commentary. Bush, it seems, never said it!

I did some checking and found the text of the President’s most recent State of the Union address. Here’s the exact quote regarding the “imminent” threat:

“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?”

… I did find news articles claiming Bush was saying the Iraqi threat was imminent. For example, one article referred to the State of the Union speech, while another referred to an October 7th address. But … Bush didn’t say the Iraqi threat was imminent in the State of the Union. And Bush never used the term in the October 7th address. The same held true for Bush’s speech last year to the United Nations, his speech/press conference of March 6th, and his speech as the war was beginning. Either Bush didn’t use the word “imminent,” or he used the word to argue that we should not wait until the threat is imminent.

Krugman Truth Squad member Robert Musil went further on his blog (June 3 entry), Man Without Qualities:

… during the entire United Nations dust-up it was always quite clear that the United States was not arguing that Iraq needed to pose “an imminent threat” in the meaning of that term in international law for its invasion to be justified. … In fact, much of the public debate over the emerging “Bush Doctrine” concerned whether the United States was constrained by arguably out-of-date notions of “imminent threat” … the Administration and Secretary Powell did not argue that Iraq was imminently threatening to use those weapons. That’s what the Administration’s opponents claimed the Administration had to show. Had Herr Doktorprofessor … perhaps drunk too much iced tea and left the room while all this was going on?

Krugman Truth Squad senior member James Taranto, on his blog Best of the Web Today, called this Krugman op-ed “an unusually deranged column even by his standards.” And then he got right to the heart of the matter — the Times and the Left are simply out to discredit the president, and they are flooding-the-zone to do so:

… President Bush would have to be judged one of the more honest politicians of our time. He’s untouched by scandal, and he keeps his promises. He said he’d cut taxes, and he did. He vowed to liberate Iraq, and he did. But now an argument is developing on the Democratic left that somehow the policies themselves are corrupt — that because Bush doesn’t agree with liberal ideas, he is a liar.

In his latest column, Krugman also touched on last week’s New York Times zone-flooder — the refundable “kiddie credit” that was downsized in Bush’s tax bill. Krugman wrote,

… the Republican National Committee declared that the latest tax cut benefits “everyone who pays taxes.” That is simply a lie. You’ve heard about those eight million children denied any tax break by a last-minute switcheroo.

As I pointed out on my blog, The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid, that was no “last-minute switcheroo.” Senate Finance Committee chair Charles Grassley explained last week:

The change reported in [Thursday's] New York Times was not a last-minute revision. The accelerated refundable child tax credit was not in the President’s original proposal, and it was not in the bill passed by the House of Representatives.

Of course the Times never ran a correction. And where does Krugman get the idea that there are eight million tax-paying children in America who deserve a “tax break”? The “kiddie credit” that was scaled back in the tax bill is no “tax break,” and it’s not what the RNC was referring to. It’s simply a government payment — something also known as a welfare check — that just happens to be administered by the Internal Revenue Service.

On both flood-the-zone issues, Krugman despaired that the media — which he says is conservative-biased in general (here’s an example, and the Truth Squad’s refutation of it) — is siding with Bush:

Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down. Meanwhile the “liberal” media report only that some people say that black is black and up is up. And some Democratic politicians offer the administration invaluable cover by making excuses and playing down the extent of the lies.

The Truth Squad’s Musil read that statement deeply, and concluded that it’s a remarkable confession — an accidental confession, but a confession nevertheless — that the New York Times is liberally biased:

Where does the New York Times fall in this peculiar taxonomy? Surely Herr Doktorprofessor doesn’t think that the Times “obediently insist[s] that black is white and up is down”! But is he admitting that the Times is liberal — or is his employer only “liberal?” If the Times is only “liberal” — but not actually liberal — then Herr Doktorprofessor says it “report[s] only that some people say that black is black and up is up.” But the Times does more than that! Why, Herr Doktorprofessor himself is proof! So he must be admitting that the Times is actually liberal — not just “liberal.”

My goodness! Who would have thought it would be Paul Krugman, of all people, who would break ranks and admit that the New York Times has a liberal bias?! How will that go down with embattled Times management?

Krugman, of course, continues to present the British press as exemplars of honest political analysis (that is, their views agree with his views). In his May 30 column he quoted a Financial Times Bush-bashing editorial as though it were especially authoritative — and in his latest piece he quoted the Telegraph.

If this same lack of accountability extends to matters of war and peace, we’re in very deep trouble. The British seem to understand this: Max Hastings, the veteran war correspondent — who supported Britain’s participation in the war — writes that “the Prime Minister committed British troops and sacrificed British lives on the basis of a deceit, and it stinks.”

New Krugman Truth Squad member William Sjostrom noted on his AtlanticBlog that the Telegraph article containing this quote was posted Monday on the website of one Brad DeLong (an ultra-liberal UC Berkeley professor and Krugman wannabe who briefly had a column in the Times several years ago. Krugman and DeLong are a liberal, Bush-bashing folie a deux, with DeLong linking to Krugman frequently, and always adoringly, and Krugman returning the favor). DeLong introduced the Hastings column by saying it comes from the “genuinely conservative” Telegraph (last week Krugman positioned the FT as “normally staid”). Sjostrom wrote:

But he does not bother to mention that Hastings has been opposed to the war from the beginning … So DeLong wants to pass off a column by a war opponent as an “even the conservatives are now critical of Bush on the war” line. Hastings was hostile from day one … Krugman has pulled the same scam. Is he cribbing from DeLong?

Cribbing? It’s worse than that — in DeLong’s hands, positioning Hastings as “genuinely conservative” is a bit of a flim-flam. But Krugman turned it into an outright lie: that Hastings “supported Britain’s participation in the war.” Musil warned of a “Krugman/DeLong rhetorical inflationary cycle” in which,

Herr Doktorprofessor’s rhetoric has already reached Weimarian dimensions, comparable to the benighted German era in which one routinely brought a wheelbarrow of currency to market just to buy a loaf of bread. … Surely, given the current credibility crisis at the Times, draconian inflation fighting solutions are appropriate. Yes, yes, one could bring in a new columnist and impose some harsh rhetorical conversion ratio (say, 100,000-to-one) between the new rhetorical currency and the outgoing, debased Krugmark, much the way Argentina and those banana republics which Herr Doktorprofessor adores comparing to the United States do repeatedly.