The Corner

Lower Standards For Presidents

Matt Yglesias carries some water for Paul Krugman and Michael Moore. Krugman wrote:

There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration’s use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

Yglesias gets Krugman’s back, writing:

That’s exactly right. What’s more, the absurdity here is that the president is being held to a lower standard precisely because he’s the president. George W. Bush is an important person, if you go write an article or do a television broadcast for a major media outlet stating flatly — and perfectly accurately — that the president’s rhetorical strategy is to use association and innuendo to create false impressions, there will be consequences. Say the same thing about Michael Moore, and you’re being a good journalist correcting the record. Thus, it’s okay for the president to play fast and loose with the facts, but God forbid a left-wing documentarian is allowed to get away with it.

Me:There are two problems with this. First, Krugman’s dishonest when he refers to “pundits.” What pundits? Gwen Ifill? Richard Cohen? William Raspberry? Nick Confessore? All of these pundits have criticized Moore’s tactics. The last two don’t mind them that much. The first two do. But do any of the four consider it “bad form” to criticize the president’s case for war? Show me some evidence of that.

Second, Yglesias wasn’t in the game during the Clinton presidency. Nevertheless it is amusing to find a liberal who bemoans a president who benefits from being held to a lower standard and who gets to play fast and loose with the facts. I mean we never saw anything like that in the 1990s.

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