Monday, April 4, 2016

The Paul K Smear Patrol

Krugman can be ferocious going after the Right, but he also has a thing for the Left, as I recall from his trade purism of the 90s.  Right now, he’s on an anti-Bernie, pro-Hillary jag and pulling no punches.

So the New York Times ran an article about how Sanders’ slow start in campaigning has put him in a hole it’s difficult for him to dig out of.  Fair enough.  In general, there were two points: he assumed early on that he didn’t have a realistic chance of winning, so he geared his campaign to spreading a message rather than building a constituency; also, he postponed direct criticism of Clinton over things like her Wall Street “will talk for money” shtick.  Ultimately, I think the problem haunting Bernie is one the US Left has had for decades, adaptation to powerlessness.  It has internalized its defeats in the 1970s and 80s and chosen expressive over practical politics.  That’s a longer story for another day, but I think Bernie was as blindsided by his success as anyone else.

But that’s not what Krugman reads.  According to him, Sanders is being criticized by the Left for not smearing Clinton soon and aggressively enough.  By “smear” Krugman refers to Clinton’s accommodations to the fossil fuel industry, finance, etc.  Lefties are deluded into believing Clinton is guilty of these things because they are under the spell of yesteryear’s “vast conspiracies” against the (Bill) Clinton presidency.

Well, what to say?  He reads an informative news article through a rather restrictive lens.  He is too partisan to recognize that the Clinton machine—the Foundation, the campaign—are accommodative toward big pools of money.  My speculation is that PK thinks the Left is a bunch of amateurs who have no business being anywhere near power, and that the citadels of expertise (which includes economists who are affiliated or will affiliate with Clinton) need to be defended against the barbarians.  If it isn’t that, something is causing this guy to lose his analytical balance.

9 comments:

Lord said...

I shudder to think what practical politics would mean as a minority party. Anything other than even more of the same?

ProGrowthLiberal said...

You are so right about two things. The big picture - Paul should test a rest for campaigning for Hillary. But this strikes me as quite right as well:

"Lefties are deluded into believing Clinton is guilty of these things because they are under the spell of yesteryear’s “vast conspiracies” against the (Bill) Clinton presidency."

I had hoped we Democrats could steer away from the behavior of those GOP clowns.

ProGrowthLiberal said...

I remember reading that March 1997 paper by Krugman on the free trade debate. Right after I read it - I purchased this classic by Dani Rodrik:

http://www.amazon.com/Has-Globalization-Gone-Too-Far/dp/0881322415

I was struck re-reading Krugman's opening lines as Dani basically refuted them.

Thornton Hall said...

I'm pro-HRC. But anti-Krugman.

What PK fears is what the entire economics academy should fear: if there is no argument from authority in support of conventional economics, people are liable to judge it by how well it comports with reality.

Wallfly said...

I think PK is loosing it (or perhaps was always unstable). 1) In a recent blog post he wrote he never downplayed the distributional aspects of international trade but he gave a speech in the 2000's whose theme was "mea culpa, I ignored the distributional effects".
2) He writes that about how internal trade macro is different from regular macro and has written about the intellectual bankruptcy of mainstream macro but insists on saying "mainstream econ" is just alright without reflecting how either of those facts might imply something structurally wrong going on.
3) I don't think I've ever read him take on DSGE models, though they seem besides being full of crazy assumptions also, iiuc, or unfalsifiable.

So maybe unstable is hyperbole, but perhaps he is very insecure and tends to be tribally protective of the profession. I will say he has great taste in sci-fi (and good taste in music).

Also I agree with Thornton, disciplines that consider themselves scientific but with a serious under supply of data devolve into argument from authority probably more readily than those without scientific pretension (i.e. the rest of social sciences)

Dan Kervick said...

Perhaps Krugman is worried about Sanders simply because, if Sanders gets in, Krugman's own brand of conservative 20th century economics will be relegated to the past.

Lawrence Milford said...

PK: "Clinton, who has said that coal is on its way out, is a tool of the fossil-fuel industry because some people who work in that industry gave her money? Wow."

I am having trouble wrapping my head around this one... I am sure he is aware that the Coal industry and the Oil & Gas industry are two separate industries... Is he hoping his readers won't notice or is he truly deluding himself to prevent cognitive dissonance? I guess it's tough being the arbiter of VSPs...

MaxSpeak said...

To me the Clinton speeches are fair game for a principled progressive campaign. Benghazi & emails are not. Sanders & the left have stayed off the latter, as far as I've seen. The premise that Sanders people are using right-wing attacks is just slander from Clintonistas, most recently Carville on MSNBC.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Re: "My speculation is that PK thinks the Left is a bunch of amateurs who have no business being anywhere near power..."

What is the Left? Pope Francis? He's calling for a worldwide revolution of culture. Robert Mann who sees that a massive transfer of money and technology from the developed to the developing world is needed to create the kind of fossil-free energy revolution we need (now). Or is it Jeremy Leggett who points out that 80% of the fossil fuels currently on the books of the corporations need to be left in the ground if we're to have a hope of avoiding 2 degrees C (a temp. increase that many climatologists believe is too great)....

"This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours." SHAKESPEARE (Hamlet II ii.)