Tuesday, April 5, 2005
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Brooks and Krugman roil the waters
Occasionally I wonder whether David Brooks and Paul Krugman call each other up and say, "Hey, let's get the blogosphere really worked up about topic X!!" I know that doesn't actually happen, but their columns from today -- Krugman's explanation for why no conservatives are in academia and vice versa, and Brooks' explanation of why conservatives are the party of big ideas -- play off each other nicely.
In contrast to Krugman's claim of Republican intolerance, Brooks argues that it's precisely the intra-party squabbling that keeps the GOP on its toes:
Combined, these two columns have certainly inspired a great deal of blog chatter. On Brooks, see Glenn Reynolds, Kieran Healy, Mark Schmitt, Matthew Yglesias, and Kevin Drum. On Krugman, see Juan Non-Volokh, Orin Kerr, Mark Kleiman, and Brad DeLong [What the hell does DeLong's post have to do with Krugman's article?--ed. Nothing, except it does offer a glimpse into the kind of mentality that is necessary to survive and thrive in the modern academy].
As a Republican academic, I offer the following insights:
There's plenty more to wrestle with here -- including the question of how Mill's On Liberty would inform one's reaction to these columns -- but I'll leave that to the readers.posted by Dan on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM
dan, you seem to have misread krugman's point. he was not saying that all republicans are the anti-evolution branch, but that academics tend to see that branch as representing the republican party (maybe because of fox having such a loud voice or something) and have backlashed to the left as a result.posted by: th on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Krugman struck a nerve did he? I think you are missing the point of the article: either you are in bed with the anti-evolutionists or you are not. He's not really talking about liberal academia in that article; he's calling folks like you out, and asking: just how big is your tent, and please be specific.
It's a damn fine political piece when put in contrast with david brooks' article on the same day.posted by: mac on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
No, no, no, no, no!
Krugman does NOT "attribute the attitudes of some Republicans about evolution to all Republicans." He merely points out that a party whose political leadership is increasingly Lysenkoist will have difficulty getting votes from people who do science, or at least respect science.
Your anecdote about political vetting in the appointments process is certainly depressing. If that happened only once, that would be once too many, and no doubt it has happened more than once. But I don't believe it's typical, and anytime you're willing to give up those beautiful cold dark wet Chicago winters I'll bet I can prove it doesn't apply to the appointments process at UCLA.posted by: Mark Kleiman on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
In other words, my ideal foreign policy is one that's forged in the grand strategy debates on the right, but implemented by the policy wonk mandarins on the left.
I mostly agree with this statement, which I find hilarious in itself because I remember a time when I preferred its exact opposite.posted by: Independent George on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Gee, did ya ever stop to think that maybe the relatively low salaries in academia have something to do with it *not* attracting more conservative minded folks?
Obviously not an issue for Prof. Krugmanposted by: jprime on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Yes -- but the jury is still out on how the post 9/11 invasion of Iraq will work out. Even though there have been a few positive developments recently, it could still turn out to have done massive harm to US interest and ability to influence world events.posted by: spencer on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
"I think you are missing the point of the article: either you are in bed with the anti-evolutionists or you are not. "
Does that mean Democrats are in bed with race baiters like Al Sharpton? 'All sex is rape' feminists? Post-birth abortion advocates?
> I dont know if anyone has run a study, but I
The difference perhaps being that Al Sharpton does not run the Democratic party or even the left (what were his primary percentages again?), whereas the Republican Party currently IS under the control of the radical fundamentalists. Karl Rove may think that having called the fundies out to vote to get W over the top he can skate by without giving them what they want, but the Schievo situation shows that is not going to be the case.
Crankyposted by: Cranky Observer on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
I should really do my research before making guarantees. If these polls are right, I may start to despair entirely:
51% of dems and independents and 66% of republicans believe humans were created by god in their present form? Can this be right?posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
" the Republican Party currently IS under the control of the radical fundamentalists."
posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Congratulations for your second post. Grace, guts, and intellectual integrity need to be noticed and praised; they're rare in bloggerland.posted by: Bill Harshaw on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
It's not Bush, DeLay, or Frist that scare us, because they're politicians first and Christians second. It's the Falwells, the Randall Terrys, the people that Bush, DeLay and Frist are beholden to. With no political pressure put on politicians from the extreme fundamentalist groups, I don't think anybody would be concerned. Unfortunately for the perception of the Republican party, these people identify themselves as Republicans. Whose fault that is (the groups' or the Republicans' for seeming to embrace them) is up in the air, but it doesn't change the fact that you fall under the same tent as them, even if you're all the way on the other side.posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
James Miller also discusses Krugman's column at TCS. "The Science Haters"
The best thing that ever happened to Republicans was Roe v. Wade, because it gives them cover on the abortion issue. Likewise, Roe is terrible for the Democratic Party. Just ask yourself, if Roe were overturned, which party would be best suited to craft an abortion policy the majority of Americans would support? The Democrats, obviously.
The same could be said about keeping creationism out of schools. If anything, the courts have facilitated the Republican Party's sharing of "their bed" with fundamentalists. The deal between the GOP and fundamentalists is that Republican politicians will voice support for fundamentalist causes in exchange for fundamentalist votes. The deal works as long as Republicans don't actually have to put fundamentalist doctrine into policy, and the courts have provided the GOP the necessary cover.
That's the irony of Tom Delay's Schiavo eruption -- if he really gets what he says he wants (the courts to stay out of these questions), he's going to hurt the GOP and help the Democrats.posted by: Andrew Steele on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
The answer behind door no. 3 goes to the heart of the debate. The unwillingness of either side to see the yin and yang of situations and adjust accordingly.
The policy makers in the Bush Administration being the reflection of the man himself is what is truly scary. They are like people who go to the game of 21 table and immediately hit the 15% that the house can lose and let it ride from the first bet. They get away with it in foreign policy because they can hold almost all the cards(information) and question ones patriotism if one objects to them not sharing. As the Schiavo case shows the same bet was placed, conservative leaders(DeLay) equated criticism of this situation as an attack on themselves and it has imploded and exploded in their face. Here every person in America is forced to confront a very personal reality and resent intrusion into a decision they likely will be forced to make simply because everyone is going to die.
Conversely too many Democrats are loathe to acknowledge the
Over time things will return to a statistical norm. One desires that the political norm to balance will occur as quickly as it would at a game of 21 table.posted by: Robert M on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Great, great post.posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Andrew Steele: dead on right, excellent analysis. The democrats single greatest flaw is that they stopped making arguments years ago, back when they had their remarkable lock on Congress. The democrats reliance on the courts to win their battles has been terribly damaging to the party. Instead of being seen as the grass roots progressives they believe themselves to be, they are instead the party of lawyers and lawsuits. The only reason the 'scary' Christian Redstaters are seen as the grassroots power of the day is because Democrats intentionally abandoned that highground, and worse have gone screaming away from it by openly questioning the intelligence and sophistication of middle america in many instances. Being the party of elite aristocrats used to be the Republicans downfall. Now its quite the opposite, only worse because the Republicans _knew_ they were viewed that way and the Democrats are still living in the illusion that they are seen as representing the silent majority. This is about substance, not style, and the Dems need to stop feigning piety to win votes and start playing on things like the Shiavo case where they actually have the right position but are too deadly afraid of the Religious Factor to make a fight of it. Shows you just how out of touch they are, you can be pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, church goer and still be very angry about Congress going into somebodies hospital room. That will win them votes, not dropping bible verses into their speeches.posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
I've always been a little suspicious of grand designs irregardless of ideology. To me a lot of them sound like We must do something, this is something, therefore we must do it. Also, there is no guarantee that a competition of ideas (as Brooks puts it) will lead to good ideas emerging.
I remain skeptical of neocon grand strategies. Prior to 911 they focused on containing China (and invading Iraq). They missed the terrorist threat almost completely. It may be unfair to blame them for not getting what the CIA and other intelligence groups missed, but if the Big Thinkers missed the enemy so completely, what faith can we have in their policy prescriptions.
Both liberals and conservatives need to come up with non-ideologically driven ideas. Welfare Reform as pushed by Clinton was one such idea. Social Security reform could have been one such -- I strongly support the idea of private accounts, but only as part of a total revampt that puts SS on a better footing. Or consider a comphrehensive energy policy: one that includes higher gas taxes, but also includes drilling in the ANWR.
posted by: erg on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
My recollection is that the partisan balance, or lack of it, among university professors was prett similar 25 years ago to what it is today. Maybe Krugman is right and this is all because of evolution, but it sounds to me as if he using one issue to flog another.posted by: Zathras on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
"Both liberals and conservatives need to come up with non-ideologically driven ideas. Welfare Reform as pushed by Clinton was one such idea."
But erg, Welfare Reform without the idiological underpinnings would just have been cruelty. It took the conservative idea that handing people free money is a massive dissensentive to go find a job to make the legislation happen. Its not like Clinton just decided out of the blue to cut welfare and it accidently got people working. Thats the whole crux, if you just try making blind fixes as you go along (as our foriegn policy did for years), you will fix a few things along the way but more and more holes open in the dike.
It strikes me that it was the growing 90s economy rather than anything else that made welfare reform work.posted by: praktike on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Dan, I think it's curious that you offer "Republican insights" when you voted for Kerry. That seems a bit disingenuous.posted by: EJ on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
I don't think that you can usefully separate strategy-making and implementation anyway. If you don't have a good handle on how much your strategy will cost how do you know it's a good one in the first place?
posted by: Strategist on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Yeah, EJ, Drezner's living in a fantasy world if he thinks that people will take him seriously as a "Republican academic." An academic, sure. But a Republican? Doesn't that designation require, er, supporting Republican candidates--or, at the bare minimum, not openly campaigning for the other side?
It'll be a long time before Drezner can persuasively posture as a Republican again.posted by: D.J. on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
"It'll be a long time before Drezner can persuasively posture as a Republican again."
This kind of thing is why the party is about to be in big trouble. The day Republicans stop looking for converts and start looking for heretics is the day the downward slide begins. Ask the Democrats. Stop ostracizing those who voted against Bush and find out why and what might be done to remedy it. When your victories are within the margin of error, it's not the time to start casting off the idealogically impure. I would be very, very careful. Because the most interesting and dynamic Rightward thinking is coming from exactly those people some of you are looking to chase off the reservation. The term Neo-Liberal isnt hard to imagine.posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
About Brooks, I don't think Chait is correct. Pat Buchanan is a former Republican Presidential candidate, who got a lot of votes when he ran. Since 9/11, many libertarians have complained about Bush but most supported him, especially on terrorism and tax cuts as a poster upthread pointed out.
But in terms of electoral politics Brooks has things backward. Republicans have striven to limit public disagreement on major policy issues, especially in Presidential politics. They saw primary fights in 1992 and 1996 as damaging to their nominees chances of success in November and by 1999 were desperate for a Presidential candidate who could appeal to each of the GOPs major factions. In Congressional races, most Republicans have discouraged intra-party primary fights, for the same reason.
Among pundits things are probably different, but they don't matter so much. When it comes time to run for office what Republicans look to keep the party united. The easiest way to do that is to run candidates committed most deeply to the campaign itself. This kind of candidate will carry anybody's water, as long as what he's being asked to do doesn't directly contradict what someone else is asking him to do. Eventually there will be price paid for this; campaign-oriented politicians are rarely equal to great events. But so far it has worked well for the GOP.posted by: Zathras on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
When did Professor Drezner actively campaign for the other side (Democratic) ? I don't remember any such thing, I only remember a rather unenthuasistic endorsement of Kerry.posted by: erg on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
It'll be a long time before Drezner can persuasively posture as a Republican again.
Damn straight. The last thing we Republicans want is any sign of independent thought. If you're not going to pull the lever for all Republican candidates, no matter how much you may dislike them, then you might as well not vote for any of them.posted by: me on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
in other words, Krugman mistakenly attributes the attitudes of some Republicans about evolution to all Republicans;
Holy projection, Batman!
If we swap out the word "evolution" for "abortion", or "taxes" ...we'd be talking about the constant barrage from the rightwing echo chamber about Democrats.
Incidentally, the commentors above are correct. Krugman was most certainly not assigning ID/Creationist beliefs to all Republicans. He's commenting on the party leadership which vocally embraces these notions...and how scientists won't be ascribing themselves to the GOP under those circumstances.posted by: carla on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Two additional areas that I think drive away some academics:
1. George Bush deliberately cultivates the image of an anti-intellectual. I think he derives some of his personal popularity from his man-of-the-people image.
2. Republicans have continued for decades now to foster exaggerated beliefs about the economic impact of tax cuts. This may not have had a broad impact in academia but it certainly seemed to irritate a lot of economists when I was in school.
Tomposted by: Tom G. on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Yeah those Nobel Laureates opinions don’t mean anything…posted by: Johnny Upton on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
it seems that if academics support you, you're in big trouble.
as to the point re primary fights: rove etc are focused on winning elections and majorities now. the thinkers are focused on winning long term majorities, and we support groups like the club for growth. there most definitely are well supported primary fights, just not the kind that liberal swould like (christie whitman vs. nelson rockefeller)posted by: hey on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Looks like I struck a nerve. Hey, man, I'm just speaking the truth: Drezner's public apostasy means that people won't take him seriously when he calls himself a "Republican." A "Kerry Republican," sure. Maybe a "Republican-leaning libertarian." Or an "academic who sometimes votes for the GOP." Hell, anything is more accurate than simply "Republican."
And, incidentally, I'm all for folks threatening to range off the reservation. It creates good old fashioned competition, and keeps us rock-ribbed types honest. What I object to, however, is false advertising. Drezner can convincingly speak for Republican-leaners who voted for Kerry. I stop reading, though, when he claims to represent Republicans.
And, as far as whether he campaigned for Kerry: I don't think there can be any serious debate about that. This is an influential blog, and many people followed with interest Drezner's vacillations during the campaign. If Drezner didn't expect to influence a reader or two, why did he spend so much time explaining himself?posted by: D.J. on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
The problem I have with D. J.'s line of reasoning is that it could apply almost as well to me as to Dan. I voted for Bush, twice, and have done campaign work on a limited basis for local and state Republican candidates. But regular readers here will have observed that my criticisms of the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans have been both frequent and strongly expressed.
This mix of credentials wouldn't get me into one of President Bush's Social Security rallies. Does it make me something other than a Republican? Well, opinions can vary on that point. From my point of view, my disagreements with President Bush as to conversative principles in economics, foreign policy and other subjects occur when I am right and he is wrong. Dan probably feels the same way, though as I argued at the time a vote for John Kerry was a strange conclusion for him to reach. In general, and remembering Ronald Reagan's oft-expressed view that people on the other side were mistaken and misguided as opposed to being the enemy, I am not about to follow the example of our modern campaign consultants who insist that anyone who is not with the party on everything isn't with the party at all.posted by: Zathras on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Chait over at TNR has a nice post debunking Brooks's argument. Basically Brooks loads the dice in his favor by including Reason and American Conservative in his list but neither by any stretch of the imagination can be considered major Republican opinion magazines. If you stick to the genuinely important opinion makers within the GOP there is a lot of agreement over the major issues.
The problem with Chait's argument is that Brooks wasn't talking about Republicans. Brooks was talking about conservatives. TAC is a conservative magazine, even if Buchanan (who, btw, endorsed Bush this time around) is not a Republican.
As for Reason, I will proclaim from the rooftops (I do, in fact) that libertarians are distinct from conservatives, but the fact remains that they often work together, and there is a libertarian movement on the right.
Cato is a harsh critic of the current administration's on many issues -- especially foreign policy -- but they're still "genuinely important opinion makers" within the administration; who do you think is working on Social Security reform?
Zathras's self-reflection is interesting, but he's constructing a strawman here. Some partisans, to be sure, simply ape the conventional party line and condemn those who don't go along. (I'm not sure, incidentally, that today's GOP is worse at this than it used to be or, certainly, than the Democrats. But I'll put that aside for now.) I'm not one of those partisans.
What I am, though, is sensitive to anyone who postures as a partisan to provide heft to their opinions when, in fact, there is rather ample evidence to suggest that that person is not as partisan as he implies. When Michelle Malkin offers thoughts that stray from Republican orthodoxy, it has some meaning. But when Drezner tags himself as a Republican to make a point, I'm afraid I'm not buying it.posted by: D.J. on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Raise your hand if you care which party D.J. believes you belong to.
posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
"The problem with Chait's argument is that Brooks wasn't talking about Republicans"
The same goes for Cato and the libertarians. The GOP will work with them when they agree but they are largely ignored on the many social and foreign policy issues where they differ.
If you consider A-list right-wing pundits: the kind who write for the top newspapers and magazines there is a remarkable amount of uniformity. Almost all of them supported Bush's tax cuts and the Iraq war: his two biggest policy initiatives. You sometimes get dissent on social issues like gay marriage and even there it's pretty muted.posted by: Strategist on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Ah, Buehner, but your still responding to my posts. I guess you care a little bit, eh?posted by: D.J. on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
point that TAC isn't a major magazine is valid; it's simply not as important as the Weekly Standard or the National Review.
So your current argument is that Brooks is wrong that there's debate among conservatives because some conservative views are more prominent than others?
Really, your position here is making no sense. Brooks argues that one of the strengths of the conservative movement is that many views are debated; your rebuttal is that this isn't true because
* some views are on top at the moment,
The last of these is trivial; if there were NO areas of agreement, then it would be hard to call all these people by one label such as conservative.
The first two are not a refutation of Brooks' point at all. Nowhere did he claim that all views have equal weights at any one time. He said that there are debates. And there are. Do you think David Brooks and James Dobson have much in common? Rush Limbaugh and Doug Bandow? Pat Buchanan and George Will? Ann Coulter and Dan Drezner?posted by: David Nieporent on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
"About Brooks, I don't think Chait is correct. Pat Buchanan is a former Republican Presidential candidate, who got a lot of votes when he ran. Since 9/11, many libertarians have complained about Bush but most supported him, especially on terrorism and tax cuts as a poster upthread pointed out."
posted by: Zathras
IIRC, Buchanan was a guy who managed to come in second in the '92 GOP NH primary. He shocked Bush I, and was a sign that things weren't going well, but that was the high point of his electoral career.
I think my point is that that the dissent that Brooks cites is mainly at the fringes of the GOP and conservative movement. It has very little influence on the Bush administration. TAC was only started a few years ago; are you seriously claiming it is a major influence?
To take a concrete example let us take the National Review and the Weekly Standard; surely the top two magazines in the conservative movement. Where exactly are the major areas of dissent between the two? By comparison there are fundamental disagreements between TNR and ,say, the Nation on several issues including Iraq and free trade.posted by: Strategist on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
Dan, in response to your claim that "Krugman mistakenly attributes the attitudes of some Republicans about evolution to all Republicans," I think you're missing Krugman's point about Republicans. Although clearly not all Republicans reject the scientific method or believe in Intelligent Design (or other sorts of anti-scientific dogmas), what is also equally clear is that all Republicans are willing not just to include people who promote such views in their coalition, but actually to let these people have an active voice in forming their party's policies on science. If academic Republicans went out of their way to denounce the flat-earthers, if they made sure to marginalize the flat-earthers' voice within the party on issues of science, if they made it clear that their solidarity with the party at least in part depended on the sidelining of the flat-earthers, then the liberals in academia would be much more inclined to forgive them. But instead, the willingness of the neocons to tolerate the Intelligent Design crowd, because they need their votes come election-time has compromised your entire party.
To be a card-carrying Republican scientist puts you in a position politically analogous to a black person who's dating a person whose family is filled with ardent KKKers -- KKKers whom the family patriarch makes sure to indulge at every opportunity.posted by: Nils Gilman on 04.05.05 at 10:56 PM [permalink]
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