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Friday, July 29, 2011

Krugman is getting in touch with his inner Keith Olbermann
Posted by Jill | 5:44 AM
Paul Krugman has been pretty shrill about the debacle that's taken place in Washington since a black Democrat became president and the right wing had a collective nervous breakdown. But today he fills in for David Brooks by taking a well aimed swipe at...well....David Brooks (and others of Bobo's ilk) in a column called "The Centrist Cop-Out" (NYT link):
The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.

As I said, it’s not complicated. Yet many people in the news media apparently can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.

Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.


Many pundits view taking a position in the middle of the political spectrum as a virtue in itself. I don’t. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily reside in the middle of the road, and I want leaders who do the right thing, not the centrist thing.

But for those who insist that the center is always the place to be, I have an important piece of information: We already have a centrist president. Indeed, Bruce Bartlett, who served as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration, argues that Mr. Obama is in practice a moderate conservative.


So what’s with the buzz about a centrist uprising? As I see it, it’s coming from people who recognize the dysfunctional nature of modern American politics, but refuse, for whatever reason, to acknowledge the one-sided role of Republican extremists in making our system dysfunctional. And it’s not hard to guess at their motivation. After all, pointing out the obvious truth gets you labeled as a shrill partisan, not just from the right, but from the ranks of self-proclaimed centrists.

But making nebulous calls for centrism, like writing news reports that always place equal blame on both parties, is a big cop-out — a cop-out that only encourages more bad behavior. The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.


And there you have it -- Krugman at his best, taking off the gloves against his own absent colleague. So should we now watch for Paul Krugman to be fired from the New York Times and replaced by, say, Erick Erickson? You know, for balance and all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Damn fine post. The media's failure to call a spade a spade continues to suck. NPR continues to make that mistake more and more and that continues to make me listen less and less.
If it weren't for the internet and blogs like yours, I'd go quietly nuts. Please keep up your good work.

Anonymous the wifely person said...
I'm comment #210 on the NYTimes list if you want to read it. But it comes down to this: the elephant in the room is tainted with racism and class warfare.

Take a good look at Washington. This is an attempted coup d'etat through obstructionism. The TP is attacking the lower and middle class one state house at a time as they march to capitol hill and we're sitting back and watching.

We've got just three days left to get the message out that we're on to them, so go dig out your old paint stirrers, cardboard boxes and neon paints and let's get out to the streets. We're all pushing retirement, but I bet we still know how to hold a good, old fashioned protest rally.

If we continue in silence, we get the government we just earned. IMHO