Politics & Policy

Krugman Aims and Fires

. . . at his own foot.

In his Friday New York Times column, Paul Krugman — America’s most dangerous liberal pundit — unloaded three huge, enormous, whopping liberal lies. Each was designed to turn the Bush administration’s spectacular military success in Iraq into evidence of Bush’s brutality, and suggested that success itself sows the seeds of failure and betrayal that Krugman claimed is typical of Bush.

Time for the Krugman Truth Squad to uncover more fact-checking of mass destruction.

Let’s begin with Krugman’s idea that Bush’s “pattern” in Iraq is one “of conquest followed by malign neglect.” This statement led Truth Squad senior member Andrew Sullivan to write on his blog, The Daily Dish, “…notice Krugman’s use of the term ‘conquest’ rather than liberation. Telling, don’t you think?”

And it was an easy “conquest” at that. Krugman wrote, patting himself on the back, “But even skeptics about this war expected a military victory. (‘Of course we’ll win on the battlefield, probably with ease’ was the opening line of my start-of-the-war column.)”

The notion that the liberal media knew all along that the invasion of Iraq would be a success is a sincere stretch. Virtually any edition of the Times over the last month demonstrates clearly that this is not so — and it goes for the rest of the media, too. Talk of “quagmire” and doubts about the “shock and awe” strategy began among the nattering class just moments after the first bombs started falling.

Sullivan has been chronicling the media’s misplaced war worries, and there are some hilarious examples well worth browsing. He noted that as recently as last Thursday, with Saddam’s statues toppling and imprisoned children streaming from their dungeons, that the media finally had to admit that victory was at hand — but the Times still held out. Sullivan wrote Thursday morning,

Almost every single newspaper in the country declares yesterday a turning point, an historic moment, the critical end of the Saddam regime. “U.S. Troops Sweep Aside Hussein Rule,” thunders the Washington Post. The Guardian hails: “An End to 30 Years of Brutal Rule.” “Saddam ‘Defeated Militarily,’” says USA Today, with the subhead, “Jubilant Crowds Tear Down Statue.” The L.A. Times: “U.S. Troops Free Iraq From Hussein’s Control.” What does [New York Times Executive Editor] Howell Raines come up with? “Iraqi Government Apparently Breaks Down But Fighting Persists in Parts of Capital.” . . . No, you couldn’t make this up. They just can’t stand the news at 43rd Street, can they?

Since then the Times has distracted its war coverage from U.S. victory with stories of civil disorder in Iraq’s cities, even fretting about the looting of Baghdad’s French Cultural Center. I can’t get too worried about that — just what is there worth looting in such a place?

But what about Krugman? Has he really earned the right to say “Nobody here but us hawks”? Yes, he did write, “‘Of course we’ll win on the battlefield” in his column of March 14. But that’s a conveniently selective recollection. As I pointed out on my blog, The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid, that’s not all he’s been saying. On March 28, 2003, Krugman wrote,

They were supremely confident — and yet with shocking speed everything they had said was proved awesomely wrong. . . . Right now, pundits are wondering how Mr. Cheney — who confidently predicted that our soldiers would be “greeted as liberators” — could have been so mistaken.

On April 1, 2003, Krugman wrote, “As recriminations fly over Operation Predicted Cakewalk . . . ” On February 11, 2003, he wrote that “Mr. Bush apparently regards Saddam Hussein as a pushover; he believes advisers who tell him that an Iraq war will be quick and easy — a couple of days of shock and awe, followed by a victory parade. Maybe.”

The next big lie in Krugman’s latest column was forward-looking, setting up his “I told you so’s” for when the Bush administration fails to magically transform Iraq into a modern socialist democracy complete with affirmative action and self-esteem counseling in multilingual schools. His evidence was his claim that the Bush administration has cynically abandoned Afghanistan after bombing it forward into the stone age. Krugman wrote,

Afghanistan, the land the Bush administration forgot. Most of the country is back under the control of fundamentalist warlords; unpaid soldiers and policemen are deserting in droves. (Remember that the Bush administration forgot to include any Afghan aid in its latest budget.)

Alex Knapp, a new member of the Krugman Truth Squad, wrote on his blog Heretical Ideas, “Where to begin? Let’s go easy — first off, it’s a complete and total lie that the Bush Administration didn’t include aid to Afghanistan in its last budget. They did. And they pledged even more money for next year’s budget.”

Krugman has used the no-Bush-budget-for-Afghanistan lie before, the first time in his Times column of February 21, 2003. Krugman rarely gives his sources, but Knapp tracked down this one (scroll down to “To Quote Inigo Montoya….”) And what do you know? He pulled this falsehood from a a February 13, 2003, report by the BBC, perhaps the only major media outlet to exceed the Times in its negativism and anti-American bias about the war in Iraq.

The liberal media engages in this form of log-rolling all the time. They cite each other’s lies often enough that they become facts in the mind of the public. But Knapp uncovered the truth. The primary source — the budget itself — has plenty of aid for Afghanistan, as well as for many other countries in the crosshairs of the war on terrorism. A hundred million here, a billion there — pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

What about Krugman’s other claims? Knapp got the facts: “…in the land that the Bush Administration has ‘forgotten,’ there have been two major military operations launched in the past month — one to coincide with the start of operations in Iraq and one this past Tuesday. In the meantime, the U.S. is training the Afghan army and providing bodyguard service for Karzai. The U.S. has also pledged to keep troops in Afghanistan for as long as necessary.”

Krugman’s third lie was about the Bush administration’s economic policies. He wrote that the administration doesn’t have any.

Krugman asked, “What is the plan? The answer seems to be that there is no plan for the economy.” With a wave of his professorial hand, he dismissed the Bush administration’s revolutionary pro-growth reform of the tax code that would eliminate the unfair double taxation of dividends: “I could demonstrate this irrelevance by going through an economic analysis, but…”

“But” instead of going to the trouble, Krugman simply cited rumors published in USA Today that “the administration has indicated that it is willing to consider a phase-in of its dividend plan. That is, it’s willing to forgo immediate tax cuts — the one piece of its proposal that might actually help the economy now — in order to be able to pass its long-run proposal intact, and hence claim total victory.”

Krugman Truth Squad member David Hogberg pointed out on his blog, Cornfield Commentary, that “Krugman is engaging in some sleight of hand. He transforms a ‘phase-in’ of the dividend tax cut into forgoing ‘immediate tax cuts.’ In other words, he implies that Bush is giving up on all immediate tax cuts. That’s simply not true, given that the Bush administration is still committed to an immediate income tax cut.”

And, of course, the Bush administration has given no real indication that its dividend tax cut will be compromised short of prying it from the Democrats’ cold, dead fingers. Ironic and delicious, isn’t it, that the Grey Lady of 43rd Street is reduced to citing rumors floated in its op-ed political analyses. But it’s even more ironic that Krugman has let his rabid, unreasoning hatred of George Bush back him into a position where he’s actually supporting a tax cut despite those “record deficits” he so loves to worry about.

Two years ago, in his July 1, 2001, column, Krugman called Bush’s gradually-phased-in income-tax rate reduction “that huge, irresponsible tax cut.” As deficit projections worsened at that time, Krugman lamented, “But now it’s too late; proposals to scale the cut back don’t have much of a chance as long as this administration is in office.”

Two years ago, Krugman said tax cuts should have been scaled back, but couldn’t because of Bush. Now Krugman has stated that Bush might indeed scale them back, but he shouldn’t. What can I say? “I could demonstrate the irrelevance…”

When Krugman’s hypocrisy is this obvious, it almost seems as though America’s most dangerous liberal pundit is only dangerous to himself. As Hogberg wrote, “Paul Krugman has developed an unfortunate habit of shooting himself in the foot in his own columns. However, he doesn’t merely shoot himself once; he empties the clip, then stumbles around on what must be shattered metatarsals looking for more rounds.”