For the record, Paul Krugman is not evil, he is not the Devil

(David Cassidy asks the fateful question at 3:01)
—-
Reagan WH staffer Bruce Bartlett and Bush WH staffer David Frum open up about the painful first step of recovery for every Republican (I’ll admit it, I had to hit rock bottom too).

Bartlett:
For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.

Frum:
For the record, I’ve come to the same painfully embarrassing conclusion about Krugman. It has not been a fun thing to admit.

For the record, Paul Krugman is not evil, he is not the Devil. Ever since the economy hit the wall 4 years ago, no one has been more right about economic policy than Krugman. For Republicans, accepting reality starts with accepting that fact. We’ll just need to find a new arch-villain.

Krugman would do much good if he opened up about his own dark secret– when he was young and irresponsible, he too worked in the Reagan White House (under CEA chair Martin Feldstein). If Krugman has a picture of himself shaking hands with the Gipper, at a WH staff holiday party, say, he really should post it on his site. It might induce a lethal dose of cognitive dissonance in some, but that’s a risk we should be willing to take. Its what the Gipper would want.

UPDATE: General Krugman shows Grant-like magnanimity.
Anyway, I have in the past been a bit hard on Bartlett, wondering why it took him so long to see the obvious. But never mind that: he has shown character, in a nation where that is hard to find.

Comments
  • JKH November 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Frum’s about face has the additional advantage of being a quasi-Pascal’s wager on the essence of Paul Krugman – they’re distant cousins:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Frum
    :)

  • Cullen Roche November 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Bartlett’s turnaround is admirable. Such flexibility and openness is unusual….

    • beowulf November 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Yeah Bartlett is a good guy. He wrote the single best introduction to Keynesian economics in his Forbes piece, Keynes Was Really A Conservative.
      http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/13/john-maynard-keynes-conservative-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html

      I admire both him and Frum for having the integrity to speak their minds instead of going along to get along (both lost jobs at conservative think tanks because they wouldn’t sing from the hymnal).

      • Michael Sankowski November 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

        It’s probably cost each of them over $1m in income. They were in the machine, and the machine can be extremely lucrative.

  • rog November 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Bartlett’s turnaround is a preamble to the Republican party’s cave in on spending reform. Get ready for both tax and spending increases as ‘bipartisanship’ kicks into high gear. Republicans are getting ready to do what they do best: cave like a poorly-built house of cards.

    • beowulf November 28, 2012 at 12:09 am

      I don’t know about that. Every incumbent Republican is just one roll call vote away from being branded a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and challenged from the right in the next GOP nomination primary. Frankly the Republican party is doomed under the single party primaries most states use. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill figured out how to game the Republican primaries in Missouri this year, you’ll see her stroke of genius repeated all over the country in 2014. McCaskill was the most vulnerable incumbent this year. The polls showed basically every mainstream Republican politician in the state beating her. The only way the GOP could lose is if they nominated a batshit crazy old man who shouted at cars. So McCaskill figured out how to trick the rubes into nominating a batshit crazy old man who shouts at cars.

      “As Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin slowly implodes over his “legitmate rape” comments, his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill is starting to look pretty savvy.
      Knowing that Akin’s fairly extreme conservative positions made him the weakest candidate in Missouri’s three-way Republican primary, McCaskill released an ad last July that implicitly propped up Akin, the Tea Party favorite in the race.
      The ad, which dubs Akin “the MOST conservative congressman in Missouri,” warns voters about Akin’s support for a personhood amendment, his crusade against government spending and his hatred for Barack Obama… in reality, McCaskill was trying to drive Republican voters to nominate the Missouri Congressman. ”
      http://www.businessinsider.com/claire-mccaskill-todd-akin-missouri-senate-campaign-ad-2012-8

      Not only did she easily win re-election, Akin’s rather barbaric comments depressed the GOP vote nationwide (at minimum, costing Republicans a Senate seat in Indiana after their nominee basically agreed with Akin). Anyway, you’re going to see the Democrats do this in Republican primaries all over the country in 2014 and beyond, by denouncing the most extreme candidate they will piss off Republican voters enough to retaliate by… nominating the most extreme candidate. The Democrats will then clean up in November.

      What the GOP really needs is to move away from single party primaries. In California and Washington State, nonpartisan primaries pick the two top candidates (regardless of party) to go onto the general. This allows moderate Republican candidates— RINOS scared of being primaried by the right– to make it to the general with the support of moderate Democratic voters.
      Since Democrats want to make registration and voting easier, there’s a simple grand bargain available. Congress could adopt Washington State’s system for all federal races. Nonpartisan primaries (good for incumbent Republicans) and Postal voting (simple registration, everyone votes absentee so no more waiting in line on election day, good for Democrats). Hell, the Postal Service is kind of underemployed these days, Congress could kick voter registration and management of Postal voting to the USPS for all federal races (and for state/local races in states that opt in), but let’s not go crazy. :o)

      • Michael Sankowski November 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        “Not only did she easily win re-election, Akin’s rather barbaric comments depressed the GOP vote nationwide (at minimum, costing Republicans a Senate seat in Indiana after their nominee basically agreed with Akin). Anyway, you’re going to see the Democrats do this in Republican primaries all over the country in 2014 and beyond, by denouncing the most extreme candidate they will piss off Republican voters enough to retaliate by… nominating the most extreme candidate. The Democrats will then clean up in November.”

        The R’s are going to get completely smoked for the next 20 years. The tea party/Limbaugh faction is so destructive to our country. Not only are they offensive in their views, they deprive the moderates of a reasonable conservative choice in most elections.

  • Mcwop November 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I feel Krugman’s main problem is that he will NEVER win over Republicans with good ideas, if he keeps calling them idiots. It does not matter whether they are or not, but they exist in the political sphere and you have to deal with them.

    What he needs to do is learn to frame his policy proposals in a way that even a Republican might buy into, or that they can understand. Imagine if someone like Krugman proposed a universal plan that included medical savings accounts and catastrophic insurance. Using tax credits to fund accounts of lower earners. Gives everyone the freedom to use those dollars on healthcare. I think they could have picked up a few Republican votes to pass Filibuster.

    But Krugman just goes on calling them idiots for not supporting a plan that was built with nothing for them to like, or that their constituent’s might like.

    • beowulf November 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      “I feel Krugman’s main problem is that he will NEVER win over Republicans with good ideas, if he keeps calling them idiots.”

      That’s the entirely the point. If he were as affable as Pat Sajak, it wouldn’t have been so difficult for Bartlett and Frum to admit he’s right.
      Think of it like this, if Dr. House were treating you for a mysterious ailment , the fact he’s a brilliant diagnostician is more important than his lousy bedside manner.

  • Deus-DJ November 29, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Let’s be a little more clear, no popular economist has been more right than Paul Krugman.

  • Mcwop December 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    beowulf
    True enough, I should have noted that Paul Krugman’s Paul Krugman is Jamie Galbraith. Jamie’s the capo di tutti capi of popular economists.
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/18/james-galbraith-lets-loose/

    And Jamie was more right than Krugman about the Clinton surpluses. Jamie was laughed at by every popular “economist” back then when he said the surpluses would not be maintainable.