March 7, 2005

#176: Krugman appears on Meet The Press

P. Krugman


In his last few columns Paul Krugman has been swirling in a world of negativism and partisanship with regard to reforming Social Security. As we pointed out in squad report #175 even when he makes a good point (instead of just recycling previous ones), it is buried so deeply in anger and nastiness that very few notice.

Yesterday, however, Krugman appeared on meet Meet The Press (03/06/04) where his "hell no, we won't go" attitude toward any Bush policy or initiative was pushed pretty hard by co-guests Kate O'Beirne and Joe Kline. He spent most of the program looking like he would rather be just about anyplace else. It's fun to read the whole thing, even minus the shifty-eyed body language. Here are some interesting excerpts:

TIM RUSSERT: Paul Krugman, has the Iraqi election changed the terms of the debate regarding the president and the Democrats?

MR. KRUGMAN: Sure. It's a little bit harder to--I mean, someone like myself would say very strongly this was a war sold on false pretenses. It's actually greatly damaged America's position in the world if you look at it broadly, but there has been some good news lately and we're all glad about that and we hope for the best. You know, you can't be rooting for American failure. You know, we're all Americans. We all want to see things go well and you can't be rooting against democracy. You want to see it succeed.

Now, you know, the news may change. It's five weeks, still no government in Iraq. You know, it's starting to look a little bit like another one of those Kodak moments, you know, toppling of the statue and then the weeks go by and suddenly it turns out that it looked better than it seemed. But maybe it'll turn out well, but, you know, you have to just hope that this is a good thing.

That was a very uncomfortable question for Krugman, especially the part about "you can't be rooting for American failure." The only time he perked up a bit was during the sequence "…you know, the news may change." However, O'Beirne then nailed his ass pretty good:

MS. O'BEIRNE: Tim, given the remarkable things that appear to be happening in that part of the world, I think the Democrats have to be extremely careful not to sound so resentful and pessimistic. They, of course, run the risk of being on the wrong side of history because something clearly seems to be happening there. Any party that appears to be welcoming a defeat for America because that's good for them politically is in a terrible position, and their traditional commitment to Democratic forces, fighting against repressive regimes, has been not much in evidence when they seem so unhappy or begrudging about these remarkable developments.

On the topic of the next Democratic presidential nominee:

TIM RUSSERT: Paul Krugman, how do you see things unfolding?

MR. KRUGMAN: I think it's just wildly up in the air. I mean, you know, there's enormous turmoil on the Democratic side trying to figure out--there's a lot of unity but there's a lot of turmoil about what the party stands for. And I just don't know. I mean, I can't--I dread the prospect of a Clinton run just because I think that would be--it would be an attempt to recreate the politics of the '90s when you had Bill Clinton, who was a president who managed to sort of triangulate. And I think we ought to have an election that's really about what what kind of country we're going to be and we won't have that if it's Hillary Clinton running.

O'Beirne and Klein pounced all over that one:

MS. O'BEIRNE: Paul represents the true believers who wouldn't want to see another Clinton presidency. And the grass roots, the active sort of angry grass roots that delivered the chairmanship of the party to Howard Dean might not want to see that kind of a presidency. But I think Hillary Clinton is a stronger candidate in that environment. She's such a known quantity that she has a lot of running room. She can move pretty significantly to the right, I think, and keep--she's been solid on national security--and keep an awful lot of those angry liberals on the reservation.

MR. KLEIN: Paul, I have a question for you: What was it about the peace and prosperity of the eight years of the Clinton administration that you didn't like?

MR. KRUGMAN: No, I liked the way the country ran.

MR. KLEIN: I think that he had a real governing philosophy. It wasn't triangulation. It was moving us from the industrial age to the information age, and that's where the Democratic Party is going to have to move...

MR. KRUGMAN: There's a radical right...

MR. KLEIN: ...if it wants to have any role in American politics.

MR. KRUGMAN: There's a radical right challenge to America as we know it that's under way, and I think the Democrats--I mean, maybe Hillary Clinton can do this. I'm actually not opposed to her, right? But they need to make clear that they are going to turn back that tide, not blur it.

MR. KLEIN: The answer to a radical right challenge isn't a reactionary left response.

We think Klein has it exactly right. Krugman represents the "dead end" wing of the Democratic Party and it will stay a minority party until the members of that wing die off. Clearly, they will never change.

[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 March 7, 2005 8:38 AM
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