Monday, May 26, 2008

It's Monday, and we all know what that means...

...Paul Krugman is pissing me off.

Today's column is titled "Divided They Stand" and in it you'd expect Krugman to lay out a plan for the Democrats to unify the party to take on McCain. Well, he'll get to that in a minute...First, he has to spend four paragraphs bemoaning the latest "fake scandal" that is being trumped up against Clinton—never mind that this RFK thing was entirely of her own making. Yes, the outrage amps were cranked up "to eleven," but it was Hillary herself that kicked it off, and then compounded it with her weak-ass "apology."

Krugman in his rush to absolve Hillary and shift blame to Obama (or the universally vague "Obama supporters") never mentions that Obama and his campaign were pretty goddamn gracious about the whole thing and resisted piling on like Clinton did every time she had a chance to show some class or grace.

Krugman gets down to the business of "uniting the party" by announcing Obama has a problem:
Mr. Obama will be the Democratic nominee. But he has a problem: many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House.

To bolster his case, PK points to some stupid poll showing that Obama trails McCain in Florida while Hillary leads. In fucking May—with the Dems still splitting votes versus McCain. From that poll, Krugman extrapolates that this is all the result of disgruntled Clinton supporters, and that Obama needs to win over and bring them back to the party.

First, I think the number of "I'm so disgruntled that Hillary lost that I'll vote for McCain or stay home because Hillary had a tough time and I blame it all on Obama" is way overblown. It certainly pales in comparison to the number of African American voters who would be (far more justifiably) disaffected if Clinton were to somehow abscond with the nomination. Plus, let's not forget the excited youth vote (aka the future of the party) that Obama actually seems to be delivering for once.

Second, these disgruntled die-hard Hillary supporters (I tangle with them regularly at Shakesville) are beyond Obama's appeal, if not all reason. They are the equivalent of Bush's 23-percenters, and that brand of identity politics is not worth bending Obama's platform to embrace.

Krugman blames Obama (?!?!) for dismissing Clinton's support as "a purely Appalachian phenomenon." More bullshit. That's only come up as a result of three recent primaries, all of which took place with Clinton desperately trying to close the gap, and SHE is the one that attempted to use those numbers as an indication that Obama can't win with "hardworking white Americans." Obama and his campaign would just assume not acknowledge those losses, but when forced to explain them, the only thing differentiating these "blue collar whites" from the ones that Obama carrieds everywhere else—from Oregon to Wisconsin—IS the Appalachia/racism factor.

The big problem really is that Krugman, as always, is laying all of Clinton's mistreatment (and there has been plenty) at the feet of Obama and "Obama supporters." That's bullshit. And frankly, this sounds disturbingly like February's "Nixonland" column when Krugman used his email inbox as illustrative of the wide world of Obama supporters.

Disgruntled Clinton supporters can and should be pissed at the treatment of their candidate by the media and punditry—it's been at times awful and disgusting—but Obama and his "official" campaign have been pretty fucking easy on her. There have been tussles, but by and large, he has run a pretty high-road campaign, even as Clinton threw the kitchen sink at him, and even questioned his qualifications for the job—while endorsing their GOP foe's.

Krugman spends exactly one brief paragraph on what role Clinton has had and will have in all of this:
Mrs. Clinton needs to do her part: she needs to be careful not to act as a spoiler during what’s left of the primary, she needs to bow out gracefully if, as seems almost certain, Mr. Obama receives the nod, and she needs to campaign strongly for the nominee once the convention is over. She has said she’ll do that, and there’s no reason to believe that she doesn’t mean it.

What fucking planet has Krugman been on the last week? I was actually ready to write almost the same thing—two weeks ago! Before Hillary decided to head down to Florida and undermine the legitimacy of the presumptive nominee. That's not playing the spoiler? Comparing the electoral process to Zimbabwe is being graceful?

So when Krugman concludes that it's Obama that has to clean up the race, it's almost laughable. Hillary has been setting fire to everything she can as she goes down, but "mainly it’s up to Mr. Obama to deliver the unity he has always promised..."
One thing to do would be to make a gesture of respect for Democrats who voted in good faith by recognizing Florida’s primary votes — which at this point wouldn’t change the outcome of the nomination fight.

Really, then why was the gracious, non-spoiling Hillary continue to beat the Florida thing into the ground?
The only reason I can see for Obama supporters to oppose seating Florida is that it might let Mrs. Clinton claim that she received a majority of the popular vote. But which is more important — denying Mrs. Clinton bragging rights, or possibly forfeiting the general election?

Yeak, Professor, Hillary just wants "bragging rights" and a "Perfect Primary Attendance Trophy"...she would use that exact popular vote scenario (dubious though it would be) to try and hijack the race. In fact, she's already trying...
What about offering Mrs. Clinton the vice presidency? If I were Mr. Obama, I’d do it. Adding Mrs. Clinton to the ticket — or at least making the offer — might help heal the wounds of an ugly primary fight.

Here’s the point: the nightmare Mr. Obama and his supporters should fear is that in an election year in which everything favors the Democrats, he will nonetheless manage to lose. He needs to do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Of course to Krugman, adding Clinton to the ticket has no down side. None at all. As if the droves of disaffected Republicans currently sitting this one out wouldn't be awakened by a Clinton anywhere on the ticket. Pretty sure there're more of them than there are pissed-off Hillarybots. And nowhere in there is there anything that Clinton could do—like perhaps to knock some sense into her supporters?'s all on Obama to try an win them over, while Hillary goes about stoking the embers.

Andrew Sullivan wraps up his critique of Krugman..."I've been open to an Obama-Clinton ticket; but the more you see of the Clintons, the more you realize that getting rid of them - and the assumptions they represent - is part of what this entire campaign has come to be about."

Yeah. Pretty much.

UPDATE: More from: Carpetbagger, Too Sense, John Cole, Aravosis


Toast said...

As with Mike earlier, I feel I owe you an apology. Krugman really has morphed into the Nutty Professor these past few months. It's beyond disappointing, to the point where, even if he returns to being his normally insightful self, I'll never have quite the reverence for his analytical skills that I used to.

Mr Furious said...


As I wrote that last night, I was thinking of you...not that you owe me an apology, but wondering—now that you're totally in the tank for Obama and after all the BS from the Clinton side—what you thought of Krugman these days.

This has certainly diminished him in my eyes and made me question his honesty and my judgement for trusting him over the years past.

He's long been a target of the right for being shrill and a partisan hack, and I always dismissed that as bullshit—the guy is a Noble laureate and accomplished economist, he is dealing in facts. Plus, I enjoyed the anti-Bush sauce he dressed his columns with.

But now I see something different that MY guy is the target. I'm not so sure Krugman has "lost it", I just think he has trained his sights on one of our own and it reveals him for the flawed, partisan, less-than-fully-honest "analyst" he may always have been. It may be that it just took me disagreeing with him vehemently to recognize it.

I might enjoy him again when he turns his fire on McCain and the GOP, but I won't trust him any more than a random blogger like you or I.

In fact, because of this, I will cast a much more skeptical eye on ALL columnists in the future.

Toast said...

Listen, Angelos, I am not "totally in the tank" for Obama. He's my guy, yes. I will support his campaign enthusiastically and I'm quite optimistic about the promise of his presidency. That said, I'm under no illusions that he's utterly without flaws.

I'm inclined to go easier on PK than you. I would never describe him as a "hack". What I will say is that this campaign has revealed him to be merely human, not the Sage Oracle floating around the heights of Olympus. It's the same way I now feel about Joe Conason. He might not have Krugman's stature, but he was truly a voice of reason during the Clinton Witch Hunts of the late nineties. When I saw Conason -- the guy who literally wrote the book on the Arkansas Project -- defend Hillary's decision to cooperate with Scaife, it was painful.

But, hey, if nothing else good comes of this, at least the scales have fallen from my eyes somewhat. No one is immune from self-delusion and hackery.

Except me... ;-)

Mr Furious said...

[more laughing]

It's all relative. When I say "in the tank" I mean "on board," or "seen the light" as compared to where you were.

I don't serve or drink Kool-Aid and this "Obama supporters are a cult" or "think he's Jesus" crap drives me fucking crazy.

Yes. He's a politician. And more than that, he's human. Of course he's not perfect. If I had an hour to talk to him one on one, I'd spend it telling him the things I want him to change, not blow smoke up his ass.

But he's the best thing to come down the pike in my lifetime, and I'm gonna do whatever I can for the guy. I'm a Dean Democrat more than anything, and I recognize that Obama is not a perfect match in every area, but he brings game that Howard Dean could never touch and as far as Obama versus the current political animal of either party, he gives me reason to believe something good can happen.

That's more than I've been able to say about anyone else I've seen.

Obama offers a chance to move the country forward to something better. While I have faith in his abilities, I have tremendous cynicism regarding the retarded country and the self-preserving establishment following him there.

Mr Furious said...

Consider me a cautious optimist. And that's an improvement over where I've been the last several years.

The idiots in this country chose a demonstrably incompetent before-he-ever-set-foot-in-office, provincial, incurious, mental midget over Al Gore, the most-qualified guy to ever run for the job, and who turned out to be right about everything that happened since all because Bush is the guy they'd rather have abeer with, or so the media told them. Never mind the fact that Bush CAN'T have that beer because he's a recovering alcoholic.

And then four years later they doubled down with the guy.

So I have no illusions that the country isn't capable of missing the opportunity.

Toast said...

If McCain wins, I think "Retard Country" should be the title of Michael Moore's next film.