They Are Out to Get Professor Krugman


Dave Weigel correctly identifies what is at work here. Chiefly, there are people who want to forget their historical debacles and run away from their record. Why? Is Donald Rumsfeld going to run for higher office?

Or is there a legacy that needs to be defended?

In the past, you could reinvent yourself and hope no one would go to the microfiche or the card catalog or the dusty shelves of the library and yank out all of those old issues of Time or Newsweek. In the past, someone could simply say, "I never said that!" when, in fact, they did say it but the act of tracking it down was tedious and formidable. There was no way that an instant rebuttal could land a punch on television.

Tim Russert began the process of collating past statements and then using them to demonstrate to someone, right before their horrified little faces, just exactly what they were lying about on a regular basis. It made him the go-to guy for collating. What he failed to do, before his untimely death, was connect the dots. Russert should have been the guy calling people liars. Instead, he let them wiggle, and then he shook their hands and told a warm anecdote about the Buffalo Bills. If he'd had a darker streak, he would have hurled scripts at people and thrown coffee mugs. His guest list would have shrank, but his legend would have grown.

Now, you can read everything Donald Rumsfeld ever said or did in the blink of an eye. You can recall voluminous pages of testimony before Congress. You can review everything he put his name to in the 1990s when he was part of a shadow organization pining for an Iraq war. You can delve into every utterance, every appearance on C-SPAN, every bon mot tossed to a French reporter in passing while traveling on business 23 and a half years ago.

It's all there. And people like Rumsfeld have no idea how things work now. This instant recall of everything--everything--is what is driving people like him absolutely mad. No one cares if he has canceled his subscription to the New York Times. We get it online now. We can read, in the archives, about how William McKinley positioned himself as a champion of the people while serving in the United States Congress long before he ever decided to run for President. It's all there. It's there for anyone who wants to go find it. And it makes a liar out of people who were paid to lie for a living.

Paul Krugman is one of the only things that people like this think are standing between them and being able to say "I never said that!" and get away with it. Unfortunately, too many people have access to search engines and academic libraries and archives of material. Krugman helps shape the debate and give voice to an economic viewpoint. This is keeping them from handing billions to the robber barons who are giving them a few thousand dollars every six years to campaign with. He does it simply by having a command of the details and a mastery of the argument that intellectually honest people cannot comprehend.

You actually have to understand research, academia, and the shaping of facts to support a thesis in order to get why he drives them so crazy. And their crazy is a public crazy that leaves spittle and clenched fists hanging there in the ether. The actual arguments put forth in academia make them gnaw at their eyebrows in frustration because this was the part of college they couldn't get.

Brother, we want them crazy. It tells them their lies don't work anymore. It tells them why their view of the world has collapsed.

It really has little to do with Krugman. They attack him, relentlessly, because he's right. That's all he is guilty of. Being correct in his analysis.

What more do you need to know?

Being patriotic means being ready and willing to question what your country has done. How people interpret that goes directly towards whether or not they are of the same political ideology as the person doing the questioning. But this is the endless fight from the 2000s, played out all over again. How boring.
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