Politics & Policy

Paul Krugman’s Lack of Self-Awareness Is Truly Stunning

(Reuters photo: Brendan McDermid)
He just accused Republicans of degrading political discourse while doing the exact same thing.

If you think political discourse has a chance to return to sanity after 2016, you’re woefully mistaken. Despite the looming specter of a Trump presidency, some on the Left still can’t think straight, still can’t see straight, and still litigate the political disputes of the past as if mainstream Republicans were wild-eyed fanatics straight out of dystopian fiction.

It’s hardly new or original to note that the Left has “cried wolf” so long about Republicans that accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, and islamophobia now fall on deaf ears. Indeed, it’s worth remembering the hysterics of the past. Remember when MSNBC’s Touré charged Mitt Romney with the “niggerization” of Obama because Romney had called the president “angry?” Remember when it was racist to critique Obama for playing too much golf? Remember when Mitt Romney killed people by denying them health care?

Indeed, one of the reasons why Trump’s Republican approval rating has remained so high is that the old accusations simply don’t work anymore. Left-wing pundits can’t call a Republican a racist or a sexist and expect other Republicans to believe the charge. Public disbelief is a rational reaction to years of leftist hysterics.

Some smart progressives are now aware of the problem. Frank Bruni and David Graham have written thoughtful pieces on the diminishing returns and destructive effect of leftist hyperbole. But the true believers haven’t gotten the message. They’re as blind as ever, and just as willing to hurl rhetorical grenades at the right, even as they denounce “polarizing” conservative rhetoric.

Doubt me? Let’s examine Bruni’s New York Times colleague, Paul Krugman. This morning, he went on perhaps the least self-aware tweet tirade the world has ever seen. He began reasonably enough, declaring that the Trump phenomenon “is the culmination of a process, not the sudden collapse of an intact system.” Well, yes. No one seriously thinks that Trump emerged from a healthy body politic. But watch where he goes next:

Wait. What? How had the conservative movement “abandoned norms?” Politics before Trump were certainly rancorous, but I saw no departure from historic or political norms.

Professor Krugman explains:

I’m old enough to remember the Democrats blocking Robert Bork, one of the most qualified men to sit on the Supreme Court bench, with an avalanche of innuendo, insults, and slander. Ted Kennedy declared that “Robert Bork’s America” was a place where:

Women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

As for government shutdowns, they’ve happened 18 times since the modern budget process started in 1976. But, yeah, the conservative movement is the problem.

Then, Krugman truly went off the rails:

This is why we can’t have nice things. The claim that Bush “lied” is, frankly, unsupportable. There is no evidence that Bush took us to war believing that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. None. It’s the kind of blatantly absurd and destructive conspiracy-mongering that only men such as Paul Krugman or — Hey! — Donald Trump would spread.

Krugman being Krugman, he had to one up himself. Ladies and gentlemen, hypocrisy personified:

“No legitimacy to opponents,” huh? What he means is that he wants conservatives to recognize him as legitimate, even as he spits disgusting, historically illiterate bile at the GOP. Respect for me, but not for thee.

Make no mistake, I’m not claiming that Krugmanism is an exclusively left-wing phenomenon. I spend entirely too much of my spare time debunking for friends the conspiracy theories forwarded around conservative Facebook and Breitbart. Every political movement has its share of fools and cranks. They can never be entirely purged. The problem is magnified, however, when the kooks go mainstream, and few people are more mainstream on the Left than Nobel laureate and New York Times darling Paul Krugman. If we want to get past the nastiness of 2016, we’ll first have to get past the hypocrisy of men like him.


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