November 6, 2004

#168: The five-stages-of-death model...

P. Krugman

Paul Krugman must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed on election eve. In Faith in America (11/01/04) he wrote a generous tribute to democratic ideals that was free partisan cheap shots and optimistic about "America's great gift to the world." He even hinted that he was more concerned about the process of casting of votes than about who actually won the election.

So what's wrong with this picture? This is clearly not the Krugster we have all come to know and love. However, our guess is that whatever overcame him on Tuesday will be short lived. And it is fun to speculate about the drift of his columns over the next years. Will it be despair followed by bitterness, or will it be bitterness first, and then despair. Or maybe his mood will follow the five-stages-of-death model developed by Swiss psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Somehow we don't think acceptance is in Krugman's DNA, but we expect a full load of the other four. Our bet is that he starts out in denial.


Update: Before the Squad Report on the Krugman column of (11/01/04) was posted we had the release of No Surrender (11/05/04). We were a little bit off in our prognostications. Using the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of death [see above], we expected just “denial” in his first post election column. But he included “anger” and “bargaining” as well. We were right that “acceptance” is nowhere on his radar screen. However, stay tuned for “depression”; that’s probably next.

Here’s how we interpret today’s column:

Denial: “This election did not prove the Republicans unbeatable. Mr. Bush did not win in a landslide. Without the fading but still potent aura of 9/11, when the nation was ready to rally around any leader, he wouldn't have won at all. And future events will almost surely offer opportunities for a Democratic comeback.”

“Does this mean that the Democrats are condemned to permanent minority status? No. The religious right - not to be confused with religious Americans in general - isn't a majority, or even a dominant minority. It's just one bloc of voters, whom the Republican Party has learned to mobilize with wedge issues like this year's polarizing debate over gay marriage.”

Anger: “President Bush isn't a conservative. He's a radical - the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state. And thanks to a heavy turnout by evangelical Christians, Mr. Bush has four more years to advance that radical agenda.”

Bargaining: “Yes, Democrats need to make it clear that they support personal virtue, that they value fidelity, responsibility, honesty and faith. This shouldn't be a hard case to make: Democrats are as likely as Republicans to be faithful spouses and good parents, and Republicans are as likely as Democrats to be adulterers, gamblers or drug abusers. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country; blue states, on average, have lower rates of out-of-wedlock births than red states.”

The bargaining quote was close call. It might have been denial. We went with bargaining because Krugman seems to be saying:
“C’mon you guys, this is all a big mistake. Can’t you see that we (the blue staters) love our wives and husbands, go to church and don’t get divorced at any higher rates than those religious fanatics out west? We are just as good as they are; better, in fact. So give us a break!”
On a related issue, it is interesting that the liberal media, including Krugman, is desperate to have this election be seen as one about values, rather than about Iraq, terrorism or the economy. They seem to draw some consolation from the idea that they didn’t lose on the real issues, but instead to an anomalous uprising by their cultural inferiors in the red states. It’s as though losing to some small town yokels and country bumpkins who believe in the virgin birth, that Jesus died for our sins and that we are NOT descended from monkeys makes it all hurt less.

Well that is fine with us. As long as they keep losing they can feel as culturally superior as they want to.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at November 6, 2004 5:38 PM
Weblog by John Weidner