Politics & Policy

In One Smear, Out The Other

What else can Krugman do but try to blame the whistle-blower?

I was on Hannity & Colmes on the Fox News Channel last night (here’s the transcript). I defended myself against a smear made by Paul Krugman on the October 17 H&C show. At the time the New York Times pundit said that I had “stalked” him “personally.” Adding to this drama, after Krugman falsely accused me of a felony, he had the gall to accuse me of smearing him in a new posting on his personal website and in his New York Times column today.

Why is Krugman prolonging this episode (which could have been concluded with an apology and a retraction on his part)? Last week on NRO and on my blog I quoted Krugman’s own words to demonstrate his apparent long-time complicity in the anti-Semitism of Malaysian prime-minister Mahathir Mohamad. I caught him dead-to-rights. So what else can he do but try to blame the whistle-blower? It’s in one smear, and out the other.

What we have now is Krugman, full of delicious righteous outrage, comparing himself to Joseph Wilson IV (some role model!) and fulminating about “the sleaziness of these people” (that would be me) who dare to hold him accountable for his own words. He thinks that just because he’s a vocal critic of the president that he’s being singled out for being “soft on anti-Semitism.” He argues that when “[m]any people have written about the political motives that induce Moslem leaders to promote anti-Semitism; they aren’t accused of condoning that anti-Semitism.”

But I’m not talking about being “soft.” I’m not writing about “condoning.” And I’m not exposing anything that “many people” have done. I’m discussing how Paul Krugman actively lent his name, reputation, and presence to a 1998 political event in Malaysia where he appeared on-stage with Mahathir. I’m pinpointing the fact that Krugman wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine in 1998, publicly supporting Mahathir’s claims that “Jewish speculators” were responsible for the currency crisis — a statement so vile that Krugman has remained entirely silent about it in his recent web posting and in today’s Times column. (He probably hopes that nobody will notice. Um, too late.)

How could Krugman — who says in Friday’s post that he is a Jew whose relatives died at Treblinka — ever even consider taking such a position?

Obviously it was Krugman’s hatred of George W. Bush that led him to him write last Tuesday’s Times column, in which he raised the whole Mahathir issue. At least he had the good sense to honor human formalities by calling Mahathir’s anti-Semitism “inexcusable.” Yet when he finished his bow to decency, he went on to excuse Malaysian’s anti-Semitism, describing it as the result of Bush’s foreign policy.

But what explains Krugman’s scandalous behavior in 1998 — before he had Bush to scapegoat for all the world’s ills? Sheer vanity may have driven him to it. Krugman Truth Squad member Robert Musil, writing on his Man Without Qualities blog, keenly sees this:

Krugman needs to feel that he is IMPORTANT. He is no longer an important academic economist … that seems to leaves him open to intellectual seduction — even to the point of blinding him to much flagrant evil, as we see in this incident.

His willingness to flatter the hideous Malaysian prime minister because the prime minister flatters Krugman by following policies Krugman advocates … is just the mirror image of Krugman’s obsessive dislike of a decent American president who doesn’t follow policies Krugman advocates …

During the Malaysian currency crisis of 1997-98, it must have been quite a thrill for Krugman to have his policy of capital controls referred to as “the Krugman-Mahathir strategy.” And it must have been quite an ego-stroke to be invited by Mahathir to take a victory lap in Malaysia after their strategy apparently worked. But now, with the frisson of elbow-rubbing in exotic (and despotic) climes having worn off, Krugman dismisses his trip as “an unpleasant professional duty.” Or, as he wrote in Slate a year after the trip, it’s just that “sometimes an economist has to do what an economist has to do.”

Perhaps an economist “has to” recommend solutions for economic crises that threaten nations — indeed, whole regions — as was the case in 1997 and 1998. That some of these nations are ruled by anti-Semitic totalitarian regimes can be overlooked in the name of preventing further suffering among the people. But that doesn’t mean, after a crisis has passed, that an economist “has to” prop up an anti-Semitic totalitarian regime by being its guest for “a day — including a 90-minute ‘dialogue’ with the prime minister — at the Palace of the Golden Horses, a vaguely Las Vegas-style resort outside Kuala Lumpur … in front of a disturbingly obsequious audience … “

Ex officio Krugman Truth Squad member Patrick Sullivan pointed out in an e-mail that Nobel laureate Milton Friedman handled himself very differently when he advised Chile on how to successfully overcome its hyperinflation in the early 1970s. Friedman did not attend any public dog-and-pony shows with Chile’s fascist leader, Augusto Pinochet. And while in Chile, Friedman actively spoke out against political repression, as detailed in Friedman’s autobiography, Two Lucky People .

But Friedman — a conservative economist then associated with Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon — was pilloried in the pages of (yes!) the New York Times for his supposed complicity in fascism, both in news stories and in the op-ed columns of the Paul Krugman of the day, Anthony Lewis. After that barrage, Friedman had to endure a decade of leftist protests, including the disruption of his Nobel Prize award ceremony in Sweden.

On stage at the Palace of the Golden Horses Krugman could only muster “some skepticism about the payoff from the [capital] controls” he himself helped engineer. Then, a year later, from the safe distance of Slate, he jauntily tweaked Mahathir for having “developed the habit of putting inconvenient people in jail.” A profile in courage? Not exactly.

Will Krugman have to endure the kind of protests that the Left threw at Friedman? So far there are no pillories for Krugman at the Times, where he can still spread all the ink he could ever want.

For the record, the Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter about Krugman to the Times, but the paper didn’t publish it. A letter from the American Jewish Committee, however, did run in the Times, but perhaps only because the more pragmatic AJC also took out a paid ad within the paper’s op-ed section.

The liberal media establishment, meanwhile, is already lining up behind Krugman — no matter the moral cost. Read this stunningly amoral and narcissistic statement offered in Krugman’s defense by liberal media apologist Eric Alterman:

One problem with anti-Semitism — the genuine problem — is anti-Semitism is the easy, anti-intellectual smear.

No, gentlemen, that’s not “the genuine problem” with anti-Semitism. The genuine problem with anti-Semitism is that it kills Jews.

But such distinctions can apparently be overlooked when the standing of America’s most dangerous liberal pundit is at stake.

— Donald Luskin is chief investment officer of Trend Macrolytics LLC, an independent economics and investment-research firm. He welcomes your comments at don@trendmacro.com.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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