WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2011
Concerning our most valuable player: As you may know, Paul Krugman published a blog post on Sunday—a post about 9/11.
The post has generated a large amount of pushback and controversy. On Monday, Krugman published this second post, amplifying what he had said.
Did Krugman do something wrong? In this post, Digby says the pushback is the same old crap from the usual “hypocritical phonies.” Without necessarily disagreeing, we had a somewhat different reaction, based on the fact that Krugman is, by light-years, the liberal world’s most valuable player.
Krugman has been a giant on policy. It’s hard to imagine how little we all would know if not for his columns of the past dozen years. But his political judgment isn’t always as strong, and some of what he said in that initial post didn’t really make much sense. He did a major amount of mind-reading—the sort of thing the lowest pundits will do. And to be honest, his mind-reading didn’t really make sense. Here’s where the mind-reading ended:
“The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.”
Really? “The nation” knows that? That’s what “the nation” thinks? In all candor, that strikes us as wildly improbable. Almost surely, “the nation” doesn’t perceive these events in the way Krugman imagines. Nor will the nation really know what he means in some of the aggressive claims he tosses off in that post.
We're not saying those claims are wrong. We're saying a major player can't afford to be casual when he makes claims of that type.
Simply put, Krugman has been a journalistic giant over the past dozen years. For that very reason, others are eager to bring him down—and the aftermath of Sunday’s post has been a bit of a blow to progressive interests. As Digby notes, the noise machine will always be trying to take Krugman down, and they won’t be especially honest about it. (On Monday night, Bill O’Reilly kept conflating Krugman’s post with something Chris Hedges said.) But this makes it especially bad when Krugman seems to help them out, tossing off casual, unexplained comments which may make him sound weird to average voters. (Or to mewling mainstream "journalists.")
Progressive interests were harmed a bit by that post, and parts of it didn’t make much sense. Because he’s such an important player, we do think Krugman screwed up a tad.
Our side has very few valuable players. We need to save those we have.