Krugman, The Critics and Reality

I’ve been frustrated since the beginning of President Obama’s election by the amount of carping from the left. I know Democrats went through a rough primary and there were a lot of open wounds from it on all sides. I think it was amazing that the Obama campaign pulled together enough votes to actually win, although I will admit that the Republicans didn’t do themselves any favors by choosing Sarah Palin as the VP. Doh! But even before the President was inaugurated, you had people beginning the assault from both the left and the right. Those “bitter” Hillary supporters who reluctantly voted for him, who never really knew much about him or his policies or cared to find out, began projecting their own hopes and pet issues onto him as if he had embraced them all along.

The perfect example of this is the Afghanistan War, which candidate Obama talked about expanding and how he was going to finish the job that Bush abandoned with his stupid ass venture into Iraq. I heard it, clearly. I didn’t necessarily agree with him, but understood that at least he was going after the people who had a connection to the attacks of 9/11. I don’t know how many times I had to remind people of that in comment sections of blogs or in face to face discussions. These people didn’t have a clue what he actually said in the campaign, but yet they got up on their little soap boxes and proclaimed that Obama went back on his word. Ah, well, he didn’t. You just weren’t paying attention, now were you?

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This “projection” idea, where people project their hopes and dreams onto someone else or ideals onto someone and then feel betrayed when that person doesn’t rise to those expectations has been occurring a lot lately. It’s happened so many times over the last two years, it really makes my head spin. Paul Krugman has been kind of an odd creature throughout the last few years. He has been a very harsh critic of the President, but also frequently praises him. He is a study in contradictions in many ways. Because he praises the President when appropriate, his criticism bears more weight with me personally. This next snippet is from a piece at Salon by Andrew Leonard about Paul Krugman and the New York Times magazine profile of Krugman that shows that pretty well.

But for those on the left who are feeling a sense of outright betrayal, Krugman delivers a bit of a surprise:

Krugman has been suspicious of Obama since the beginning of the campaign, and his early doubts have remained. “It’s not so much — it’s not a values difference. I think Obama was and is committed to the welfare state.” What has always troubled him, Krugman says, is Obama’s conviction “that we can find the center and work with these people.” This seems to Krugman a deeply naive view of politics, though one that is pervasive in Washington. “There are really very, very few things, very few values issues on which both sides of our political divide agree,” he says. “You may in the end get an agreement that involves both parties but is not bipartisan in any positive sense of the word.”

The quote put me in mind of a telling moment during the conclusion of Obama’s speech on the deficit two weeks ago, when the president alluded to the partisan warfare that had plagued his term.

Of course, there are those who simply say there’s no way we can come together at all and agree on a solution to this challenge. They’ll say the politics of this city are just too broken; the choices are just too hard; the parties are just too far apart.

And then with a wry smile and downcast eyes, Obama said “And after a few years on this job, I have some sympathy for this view.”

So the President, being the class act and honest person that he is, admitted that he was maybe a bit naive to just how partisan things were in Washington. I propose that Washington WAS much more bipartisan until the day President Obama was sworn in. The Republicans signaled right away that they were not going to deal with him, not give him any wins and basically lie their asses off throughout the whole process. The lies began before he took office, and of course the compliant media just went along with it. Andrew Leonard continues…

But who is really being naive here? Krugman’s position is that Obama starts too far to the right and leaves himself little negotiation room — that he reduces the politics of the possible. But you have to wonder whether Obama would have gotten any significant legislation accomplished if he had come out of the gate pushing for a much bigger stimulus, single-payer healthcare, and the nationalization of Citigroup.

Which scenario is more likely — the current Republican party buckling to Obama’s progressive vigor, or centrist Democrat senators fleeing for the hills, denying the White House 60 votes on any of its agenda items? I know where I’d lay my money down.

I don’t necessarily put Paul Krugman in the camp of liberals who either weren’t listening to candidate Obama or are projecting, like I said before, he is an odd one to figure out. I still like him and I’m glad his voice is in the mix. I wish the Administration would hire him just so I can see the Republican heads explode. Back to the so-called progressives (Professional Left variety) and the idea that the President has abandoned them. Here is a paragraph from one of my new favorite bloggers, Norbroook’s Blog, I like the way he thinks, check it out. He’s referring to the Professional Left, the title of the post is “They Never Get Tired Of Having Egg On Their Face”, which gave me another excuse to post a picture of my smart granddaughter below…

Which just demonstrates that they’re not living in reality, or actually doing much to drive the Party to the left … or anywhere.  They’re a fringe group who exist in a bubble, where they talk only to each other, and mistake their status within that group with actual status outside of it.   They’re the ones who are driven by a fantasy of what candidate Obama ran on, not what he actually ran on; those whose egos were hurt when the President didn’t come to them or follow their policy prescriptions; and those who are motivated by racism.  While the people in the Professional Left’s bubble think that the circle they talk to – other members of the Professional Left – matches “reality,” it doesn’t.   That’s why they’re so often “surprised” by polls.   The Frustrati?  The members of Daily Kos, FDL, etc.?  The ones who spend a great deal of time telling you how critical they are?  The people out in the field, the ones who do the work of the Party, the ones who consider themselves Democrats have never heard of them.   If they have, and it’s a small number, they’re not considered a factor at all.  They’re talking in their own little circle to each other, and thinking that it’s important, but in terms of what’s actually important, they’re not.  When it comes time to work, to deliver on their rhetoric, they’re conspicuously absent.


2 thoughts on “Krugman, The Critics and Reality

  1. Great piece, Jim. As long as I stay away from HuffPost and don’t follow them on Twitter, I find it fairly easy to ignore them, at least most of the time.

    Of course, the trolls on Bob’s blog make it difficult. :)

  2. Thanks for the history lesson and the huge dose of reality on President Obama and the perpetually disgrunted critics who are in need of mainlining some of that, EL..and the cute little egg on her face.

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