MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman sat down with Charlie Rose last night to debate the debt crisis, a topic the two have sparred over recently. And the former congressman came away the winner in a unanimous decision against the Nobel Prize winner, a judgment joined by none other than Paul Krugman himself. Krugman conceded that the debate did not go his way even before it aired last night, writing on his blog that it was his “Denver moment,” a reference to President Obama’s lackluster first presidential debate.
Scarborough pushed for immediate attention to the debt to spur economic growth while Krugman urged for further public investment and running deficits for now.
Scarborough went on the offensive for most of the discussion by referring to Krugman’s past works and predictions to expose contradictions and other weaknesses in Krugman’s case. Krugman responded–ineffectually–by telling Scarborough to stop “playing gotcha” and using his old works as “ad hominem attacks.”
Later in the debate, Scarborough called out Krugman–who, by his own later account, was out of sorts–for “being childish” and “tak[ing] cheap shots.” He compared Krugman’s behavior to Al Gore’s famous presidential-debate mannerisms in 2000, as the professor was sighing and commenting under his breath as Scarborough talked. Scarborough continued to advocate for serious reform to Social Security and Medicare, while also paying attention to economic growth and job creation. “We can also do what’s responsible for our children and for our grandchildren, and be concerned about long-term debt,” he said. “That seems pretty damn rational to me.”
All in all, Scarborough usefully exposed that Krugman is better at excoriating conservatives at a distance in his columns than at actually debating them. Well done, Joe.