I used to look forward to a Paul Krugman column. Yes, he was a polemicist, but he was always angry with good reason. Now, I read each column waiting for the gratuitous Obama smear. Of course, often enough in these past few weeks, the entire column has been attacks on Obama. Today, perhaps in deference to Obama’s overwhelming victory over Krugman’s two preferred partisans, Krugman only has a throwaway line attacking the Senator:
The Democrats in general make far more sense. But among at least some of Barack Obama’s supporters there seems to be a belief that if their candidate is elected, the world’s problems will melt away in the face of his multicultural charisma.
Memo: It won’t work on the Chinese. [my emphasis]
Notice both the vagueness of the claim, and it’s mean-spiritedness. I doubt Krugman could name a single supporter who believes this. And I cannot think of any other reason for including this gratuitous insult.
I fear Paul Krugman is becoming the left-wing’s William Kristol in his single-minded partisan fervor, indifferent to political realities on the ground but true to the vision that shaped him years ago. He remains interesting – much as Kristol has – but he seems to be somewhat disconnected from reality. William Kristol’s dogged defense of the Iraq war demonstrated how disconnected he was; Krugman opposes Obama because of his lack of partisan fervor – because he believes partisanship is necessary to win and to accomplish any significant changes. But when his theory is challenged by the reality of an electoral victory (a small one to be sure), he does not brook any doubt. He is surly. Krugman is not in William Kristol territory yet; but if Obama manages to become the Democratic nominee, I’d be certain that Krugman’s doubts will remain strong. And if Obama wins the presidency, I’m sure they’ll remain. And if Obama accomplishes more than expected as president – I doubt, even then, Krugman will come around.
Still, if Obama is the nominee, expect Krugman to find something else to talk about for the next few months until November rolls around. Expect a lot of talk about the Democratic position versus the Republican candidate. That’s the problem when you’re a partisan. Your intellectual honesty becomes a hostage to your party or your cause. Just ask William Kristol.