Friday, January 2, 2009

Talk about a phony discipline
Tom Smith

Paul Krugman on the history of the Republican Party.  Now he is a political historian as well.  I have the greatest respect for Paul's work as an economist.  Actually, that's not true.  I just assume I should because he won a Nobel Prize.  And I don't know him in the least, let alone well enough to call him "Paul." But that is what one is supposed to say, isn't it?  But this column sets a new low.  Though, it probably isn't a new low for those who read Herr Doktor-Professor Krugman regularly.  The whole history of the GOP's opposition to big government is racism?  As history and rhetoric, that claim really is beneath contempt.  It displays an astonishing ignorance of American history and a shocking degree of personal animus as well. For what little it may be worth, I worked with economists and other policy makers of the Reagan administration during my year at the CEA, where I met plenty of people who really liked markets and were deeply skeptical of regulation, but I never encountered the slightest suggestion that any of it had anything to do with race or "Those People."  What an appalling thing to say.  Krugman has stooped to throwing around baseless accusations in a way that is a discredit to himself, the New York Times, Princeton and the Nobel Prize, and probably New Jersey as well.  He ought to be ashamed of himself, assuming that is something he is capable of, which I am entitled I think to doubt.  He may not believe in markets and be all excited about the coming New Age of big government, but he should get a clue about the market in reputations. He might want to consider that having won the Prize is not a lifetime guarantee against being considered a buffoon and flinger of scurrilous accusations.  Nor does having done important economic work make him an expert on everything, as the profoundly ignorant assumptions and claims in the column linked to prove, if any further proof from his pen is necessary.  I suppose the rhetorical counter-strategy in Krugman's case would be to make equally loathsome accusations of his bad faith, and attack the personal motivations of him and everyone else in his particular pocket of the left wing of the Democratic Party.  But I have no way of knowing whether he is acting in bad faith, which would be bad, or else just holds anyone who disagrees with him in such contempt that he feels free to make poisonous and wild accusations in print.  Either way, this guy is really a disgrace.

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Tom Smith


Glad to see such a well-reasoned, evidence-based, multi-verified source, vitriolic & childish potentially actionable (if it were widely read enough to do any real harm) public personal attack given a full public airing on your blog, Mr. Smith. Keep it up; you're validating Krugman by calling him names instead of offering any counter-examples of Republicans officially or unofficially adopting any type of equal-rights or racial-tolerance agenda. I happen to know there are some out there. Just one example: immediately after 9/11, President Bush, to his and Republicans' enormous credit, called for calm & order & tolerance by denouncing and discouraging 'vigilante' KKK-style racial & religious attacks on Muslims & Arabian-descent American citizens in this country.
"Herr Doktor-Professor Krugman" (???!) = conservative code for 'Nazi war criminal'? Your ad-hominem attacks on Krugman, coupled with a total lack of sources (other than your own, er - humble - opinion) countering any of his cited evidenciary examples make his column look like the Second Enlightenment next to your,,,uh... 'rebuttal.' Reality check exercise before your next public foray: no matter HOW much Krugman or anyone else may offer to pay you to make him look good by rubbing conservatives' noses in such excremental exposition as you've produced in your own & their names here, please re-read the following, out loud, and s-l-o-w-l-y:
"... He ought to be ashamed of himself, assuming that is something he is capable of, which I am entitled I think to doubt..." "...I have no way of knowing whether he is acting in bad faith, which would be bad, or else just holds anyone who disagrees with him in such contempt that he feels free to make poisonous and wild accusations in print. Either way, this guy is really a disgrace."... - and look up into the mirror and face your demon. And please do so before he gets the better of you again and gives good, intellectually honest and principled conservatives another Smith-inflicted black eye.

Posted by: Chris | Jan 2, 2009 2:43:57 PM

It's always worth pointing out that it's not a real Nobel prize that he's won, just the pretendy prize for Economics. Otherwise, I'm sure you'll agree we should all harken to a man who worked for Enron.

Posted by: dearieme | Jan 2, 2009 3:07:40 PM

Chris - you must not come around here very often. This is the good professor's schtick. Its funny and non-offensive, because regular readers know that he has built up a deep well of respect. Heck - even Brian Leiter likes and respects him - and I'm not sure they could agree on the temperature while sitting next to a meteorologist. He responds to over-the-top non-tongue-in-cheek commentary with equally over-the-top tongue fully lodged in cheek commentary. And it isn't a Nazi reference - its a reference to the respect shown to academics in the German university system. And you can't demand a full-fisking, give me a break. Except for the Yale Law Dean's letter - that always deserves a full fisking.

Posted by: Randy | Jan 2, 2009 3:52:17 PM

Dear Chris (no last name):
I don't think anyone who claims that support of limited government is covert or even not so covert racism deserves a reply brief. Scurrilous claims of Krugman's sort should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Conservatives do themselves no favors by treating them in any other way. They are also, conveniently enough, the sort of claims that don't really admit to rebuttal by facts. If somebody avers that the last thirty years of Republican governance were all part of a conspiracy to keep people of color down, what exactly would count as counter-evidence? Why should one even dignify such an absurd claim with contrary facts? It is a mistake to enter into a debate on the topic "Resolved: The Republican Party and so-called 'limited government' are part of a racist conspiracy." When conservatives do this, they earn the moniker "the stupid party" which we have unfortunately frequently deserved.
Krugman is using the prestige of his important work in economics to lend credence to vicious attacks against people who have worked very hard to support constitutional governance in this country. Even in a world full of evil, this is still a notably bad thing to do. His style of argument undermines the sort of reasoned discourse that one should want in public debate. He doesn't need to be engaged; he needs to be ruled out of order. It is because too few people have booed him that he carries on as he does. Not least of all, it is bad for the profession of economics, towards which I bear some affection. The genuine importance of Krugman's economic work makes it difficult for economists to criticize him for his amateurish and toxic forays into political history and science. The people such as I who shout from the back benches "Shame!" thus serve an important function. So though you accuse me by implication of intellectual dishonesty and perhaps even demonic possession, in fact the intellectually honest thing for one to do here is just what I have done -- point out very clearly what Krugman is doing, and hold it up for the moral opprobrium that it deserves. And I don't know where you went to law school, but if you think calling somebody disgraceful and a fool for claiming on an op-ed page that a political party consists of a bunch of evil-minded racists is actionable, you have a very idiosyncratic view of the First Amendment, as idiosyncratic as your spelling of "evidenciary" (sic).

Posted by: Tom Smith | Jan 2, 2009 4:04:46 PM

Paul Krugman does not lower the amount of respect that the New York Times deserves; rather, he embodies it. He is the poster boy for the New York Times reputation for integrity, honesty, and. . . um. . . well, something. Self-absorption, perhaps.

Besides - just like Paul has his Special Prize in Economics, the NYT has Duranty's Pulitzer: who has standing to argue with that?

Posted by: David D | Jan 2, 2009 8:38:21 PM

I suggest reading the 2004 Claremont Review piece "The Myth of the Racist Republicans," [] which actually examines the facts of the issue and says "not guilty."

The attitude of the Krugmans is especially irritating considering the appalling racism of the history of the Dem party, which continues to this day. The Rep argument against excessive welfare, or against the state of the urban schools, or against affirmative action, is that the policies injure the purported beneficiaries. Leading Dems, such as Krugman, are smart enough to know this -- they choose to ignore it because demagoguery leads to power.

Posted by: JVDeLong | Jan 3, 2009 11:11:30 AM