Saturday, January 11, 2003

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BACK TO KRUGMAN: I received a fair amount of flack for my "sophisticated exegesis" of Paul Krugman last month. One blogger noted -- correctly -- that I hadn't provided any specific examples of Krugman becoming too strident or over-the-top. I didn't do this -- in part -- because this dimension of Krugman's writing had been acknowledged in the very articles that praised him. [What's the other part?--ed. I'm also lazy].

However, for those who want the proof, check out Lying In Ponds statistical analysis of the last year in pundity. The summary:

"After evaluating all 2,129 columns written by our 37 pundits in 2002, it's time to draw some conclusions. I've stressed all along that Lying in Ponds is attempting to make a distinction between ordinary party preference (there's nothing wrong with being opinionated or having a political ideology) and excessive partisanship ("blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance"). While it's obviously difficult to draw a definitive line, the top three pundits in the rankings clearly revealed excessive partisanship by the remarkable consistency of their extremely one-sided commentary throughout the year. The New York Times' Paul Krugman took the partisanship lead early and lapped the field. In a year in which Mr. Krugman generated lots of buzz and won an award, his 18:1 ratio of negative to positive Republican references and 99 columns without a single substantive deviation from the party line were unmatched in the Lying in Ponds portion of the punditocracy."

For some specific examples from this past week, there's Paul Krugman's web site, which is beginning to have blog-like qualities. In this entry, he defends his comparison of George W. Bush to Ferdinand Marcos:

"In case you're wondering: no, I don't think that Bush is the moral equivalent of Marcos, and I'm not endorsing the theory that 9/11 was a Carlyle Group conspiracy. But as many people have now acknowledged, this is an administration of 'access capitalists' - which is just the American version of crony capitalism. Is there also a resemblance in the sense that Bush has used fears of terrorism for political gain? Of course there is. Memos from Karl Rove are quite explicit about using the war on terror as a political issue. Moreover, the Bush administration's creation of a cult of personality, its obsessive secretiveness, its propensity for mass arrests, and its evident fondness for Big-Brotherish schemes of public surveillance are not the actions of men who have a deep respect for the democratic process."

Over the top? Too strident? You be the judge. Or let Eugene Volokh be the judge for you. Or Glenn Reynolds.

Then there's the latest Krugman post. Let's first be clear that Krugman has every right to be pissed off by the triggering e-mail -- hell, I'd have posted something really nasty to "drstrangelove" in response. However, these passages are just bizarre:

"Poor drstrangelove. He (she?) doesn't realize that friends of the administration must have already looked into all of this.... I'm also a 'Centenary Professor' at the London School of Economics - it doesn't pay me anything, but might be a helpful connection when I'm forced to flee the country."

Now, this is certainly not strident. It does border on megalomaniacal paranoia, however.

posted by Dan on 01.11.03 at 01:36 PM