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|Analyzing Paul Krugman’s New York Times Editorial|
Aug. 10th, 2009 at 8:00 am
Paul Krugman’s recent analysis of anti-Obamacare protests makes Philip Kennicott’s idiotic piece in the Washington post look like the work of a genius. Krugman’s reasoning is so baffling, that it won’t do to simply summarize it; one must read it for herself:
There’s a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled “Freedom of Speech,” depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting… shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don’t like what he’s saying, but they’re letting him speak his mind.
This is a puzzling sort of thing to say. Krugman seems to believe that protesters who angrily express their political opinion’s violate the freedom of speech of members of Congress. This is a superfine brand of freedom, in which citizens much be extra careful of how they offer policy criticism to their elected leaders. Perhaps Krugman is unaware that the Constitution ensures freedom of speech for citizens to use against government power, not for government officials to use against citizen power.
Krugman goes on:
Something new and ugly? As opposed to the fraud-laden community organizing that ACORN does? As opposed to Jesse Jackson rent-a-riots?
This reminds me of the Democratic talking point that Sarah Palin read her speech from a teleprompter at the Republican National Convention. Personally, I’m shocked, shocked! to learn that political protests are being organized by political leaders. Seriously, this is really baffling stuff. Does Krugman really mean to imply that non-spontaneous political speech is somehow less legitimate than unplanned political speech?
Krugman goes on to attack the head of one of the grass-roots organizations:
Well, not all community organizing efforts can be done by future presidents. I'm left to wonder what impact this has on the legitimacy of the opinions being expressed by protesters.
It's not like a bunch of ambivalent people sit by the phone waiting for a call to participate in the next Republican protest (as opposed to the homeless people that ACORN pays to protest with cigarettes). Republicans haven't been able to mobilize this successfully against an issue since the last attempt at health care reform under the Clinton administration. The fact that a healthcare reform bill is being rushed through Congress angers those who distrust government interference in the healthcare system.
I'd love to hear what Krugman thinks of the recent effort in my town to raise property taxes via referendum. It included signs, bumper stickers, individuals (some of whom may well have been of dubious character) who stepped up to the plate to create an organization, donations from well-healed residents (some of whom may well have been of dubious characters), rallies, the orchestrated presence of supporters at town meetings (real instruments of governance here in New England; not simply meet-the-voter gatherings). In my mind, this is the American political system in action. Quite extraordinary, really. But according to Krugman, it's a sinister projection into our political system -- of what, I cannot fathom.
Finally, after attacking protestors' legitimacy by accusing them of violating other people's freedom of speech, after attacking their legitimacy by denying that they constitute a grass-roots effort, after attacking their legitimacy by throwing innuendo at one of the heads of an organizing group -- after all this, Krugman admits that the actual protesters are expressing real political opinions, but only because it allows him to attack their political opinions and call them racist:
So according to Klugman, people who are comfortable with government subsidies in health care have no basis to object to Obama's plan, because Klugman stretches common usage to unilaterally define subsidies as a form of "socialized or government run health care." Klugman seems unaware that "socialized medicine" and "government run healthcare" typically refer to health care systems in other countries that are fundamentally different from ours, not to specific policies in the US health care system.
Moreover, in spite of the inflammatory rhetoric of opposition leaders (inflammatory rhetoric? in politics? Oh, my!), the alleged hypocrisy of those who support limited government subsidies in health care while opposing Obamacare constitutes evidence that they oppose Obamacare because of "who [Obama] is.” Never mind the fact that American voters also vehemently rejected Clinton’s health care reform proposals.
But let’s talk about the phrase: “Who Obama is.” This is an interesting phrase. When I see it, I think “Obama is the president” or “Obama is a not a really good president so far” (just my opinion). But for Krugman, “who Obama is” must be about race. Why? Because there are conspiracy theorists who believe Obama has withheld his birth certificate because he’s not American:
Surely this is a non sequitur. Every major conservative publication, including The National Review, The American Spectator — even Ann Coulter, has taken pains to denounce this wacky conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Kenya. In fact, the birther movement was started by a Hillary Clinton-supporting blog called “The Blue State.” As much as Krugman wants it to be otherwise, the Republican right simply is not as crazy as the Democratic left that gave us the 9/11 conspiracy theory, the Diebold-vote-stealing conspiracy theory, the Palin’s-son-was-actually-born-to-her-daughter conspiracy theory. The nuts over at DailyKos even published a defense of Dan Rather’s forged documents! Seriously, these people will believe anything. But to Klugman, the Republicans are racist because he thinks that they adhere to a conspiracy theory baked up by Democrats supporting the current Secretary of State!
You can read the rest of his article if you like. It doesn’t get any better. I think that we have a right to expect better from someone who won a Nobel Prize for his intellectual pursuits. As far as the editors of the New York Times, they’ve shown that they’re not capable of any better.