Paul Krugman is the ethos-mouthpiece of the New York Times; he is the Gertrude Stein of economics (economy of scale is economy of scale is economy of scale); he is the conscience of the complacent, supercilious left; he is the Nobelist who remarkably (conscience, see again) did not reject his prize though it was once awarded to Milton Friedman and also to Robert Aumann; he is the satisfied spouse of Madame Ronnie Wells Krugman Defarge (“When he has a draft,” says the New Yorker’s Larissa MacFarquhar, “he gives it to Wells to edit. . . . [S]he focusses on making him less dry, less abstract, angrier. Recently, he gave her a draft of an article he’d done for Rolling Stone. He had written, ‘As Obama tries to deal with the crisis, he will get no help from Republican leaders,’ and after this she inserted the sentence ‘Worse yet, he’ll get obstruction and lies.’ Where he had written that the stimulus bill would at best ‘mitigate the slump, not cure it,’ she crossed out that phrase and substituted ‘somewhat soften the economic hardship that we face for the next few years.’ Here and there, she suggested things for him to add. ‘This would be a good place to flesh out the vehement objections from the G.O.P. and bankers to nationalization,’ she wrote on page 9. ‘Show us all their huffing and puffing before you dismiss it as nonsense in the following graf’); he is the quintessentially socialist rich-man pretending to be a poor man; he is the scourge of the neocons; and, lately (through a piña-colada haze from his oceanfront perch on St. Croix?), he is the philosopher who, Sartre-like, may not feel shame, but knows it when he sees it:
What happened after 9/11—and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not—was deeply shameful. Te[sic] atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons. . . . The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
“I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons,” he concludes. Good point: There’s no shame for New York Times columnists, as they’ve proved over and over again, in using spitballs for words and then hiding behind them. Did the furious Madame Wells Krugman Defarge clack her knitting needles in the formulation of that post? We’ll have to wait for Larissa MacFarquhar’s next breathless panegyric to find out. In the meantime, and unlike his wife, we’ll just let Mr. Krugman speak for himself, shamelessly:
I’m craving the chance to do some deep thinking, and I haven’t been doing a lot of that. I guess doing the really creative academic work does require a state of mind that’s hard to maintain throughout your whole life. . . . When I was younger, when I figured something out there was this sense of the heavens parting and the choirs singing that I don’t get now.