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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 01/11/2011

Does the New York Times want to be known for Brooks or Krugman?

By Jennifer Rubin

Longtime readers know I have my differences with David Brooks. But the Arizona massacre is the sort of incident for which David Brooks writing -- calm, measured and moderate --- is much needed. Today he writes:

Mainstream news organizations linked the attack to an offensive target map issued by Sarah Palin's political action committee. The Huffington Post erupted, with former Senator Gary Hart flatly stating that the killings were the result of angry political rhetoric. Keith Olbermann demanded a Palin repudiation and the founder of the Daily Kos wrote on Twitter: "Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin." Others argued that the killing was fostered by a political climate of hate.

These accusations -- that political actors contributed to the murder of 6 people, including a 9-year-old girl -- are extremely grave. They were made despite the fact that there was, and is, no evidence that Loughner was part of these movements or a consumer of their literature. They were made despite the fact that the link between political rhetoric and actual violence is extremely murky. They were vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness.

All true. But isn't he leaving out a notable figure? Yes, his colleague Paul Krugman was among the worst offenders, and his own newspaper's editorial board dipped into the guilt-without-any-association game, too.

Krugman, you may have seen offered this on Monday:

It's true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn't mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate....

And it's the saturation of our political discourse -- and especially our airwaves -- with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: it's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It's hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be "armed and dangerous" without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P....

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It's really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what's happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

Even among liberal commentators, Krugman stands out as an embarrassing example of flimsy argumentation and unreasoned partisanship. Where's his proof? And where was he when labeled Bush a "chimp" and the President of the United States called the opposing party "enemies"?

Alas, the New York Times editorial board was not much better, pronouncing it "legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge." You see the problem.

Sure the Times can and does publish whomever it pleases on its op-ed page, and it has every right to employ many high-octane name callers (Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd and Krugman, suffice it to say, make up the most strident trio in mainstream journalism). But can't it do better than Krugman? I mean, it's not like there aren't liberals who can make their arguments without partisan viciousness.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 11, 2011; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Arizona shooting  
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To answer your question, Krugman. Every day, and 2x on Sundays.

Posted by: bzod9999 | January 11, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I read every Paul Krugman column. For my money, he analyzes the economy and economic policy better than anyone.

Posted by: danw1 | January 11, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse


WE are coming up on 1:11 on 1/11/11

This is a major event in the history of the world.

Actually, there are 16 points in time this year that have this characteristic.

So, while it is unique to this year, this point in time is actually happening 16 times this year.

Says a great deal about life, doesn't it?


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 11, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

This liberal knee jerk reaction by the Times and other media handmaidens is an act of political desperation. They have seen the election results and they have one arrow left in their quiver: treat the opposition as not only extreme, but lawless as well. The MSM's declining ratings and subscriptions tell the real story. On the left, a small and boisterous minority believes their incoherent favorite political and sociological templates hold some validity with America anymore. The Krugman's do not get repudiated because his skewed view of the country is shared by both his editorial board and publisher. It's the way they roll, you see.

Posted by: TheStatistQuo | January 11, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

An assassination of a politician IS a political statement. If the shooter were simply crazy, why did he choose a moderate Democratic Congresswoman who voted for health care reform? Was it pure chance?

You Ms Rubin are the one guilty of poor logic, not Paul Krugman.

Posted by: lensch | January 11, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer Rubin is calling out other columnists as high-octane name callers. Pot meet kettle.

Posted by: mustangs79 | January 11, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I think you would find it a useful exercise to expand your reading list.

Posted by: bzod9999 | January 11, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't know anyone who has much respect for what Krugman writes. He's certainly not taken seriously in the financial community. He's paid to be a bomb thrower, and he is. I think that we are surprised because somehow we expect more from the NYT.

I have a different take on Palin though. What you are seeing in her case is a chickens come home to roost thing. NO, of course she had no invovlement in the shootings in any way. I'm talking more about her political ambitions.

In the last two years we have seen that there is almost nothing she won't comment on and no one she won't tweet about, even the First Lady on nutrition. She has made herself a lightning rod at all levels for every controversy, injecting her opinions where there was no reason to go.

She even endorsed the incredibly inept Christine O'Donnell in a state she may never have even visited, in a race there was no chance of winning.

While all this has been good for Palin Inc., it also points out why her career in politics is completely finished. There's a smart political axiom that says "never make an enemy by accident" and Palin has done so by the millions.

Republican leadership knows this and are trying to make sure she's not in the race in 2012. They don't believe she coud get the nomination of course, but they believe she could damage the eventual candidate by making them move too far to the right in primaries.

She knows she can't possibly win too, but the temptation to enter in order to remain nationally relevant for a longer period of time is strong.

We will see which of these colliding trends prevails by year's end!

Posted by: 54465446 | January 11, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Let's widen the discussion:

... Jun 13, 2009 ... Here is a picture of Brisenia Flores. She is the innocent nine year old child, viciously murdered by Minutemen leaders Shawna Forde and ... -child.html
"Arrested was 42 year old Shawna Forde who is the National Executive Director of the Minutemen American Defense organization and two of her cohorts, Jason Eugene Bush, age 38, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, age 43. They are accussed of breaking into the home of 29 year old Raul Flores and killing him. They also shot and killed his 8-year-old daughter Brisenia Flores. The mother was also shot but survived."

ali kinani - My FDL | Home Ali Kinani was nine years old. He died on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, the youngest victim in a Blackwater shootout that killed at least seventeen. ...

EXCLUSIVE...Blackwater's Youngest Victim: Father of 9-Year-Old ... Jan 29, 2010 ... "Blackwater's Youngest Victim", report from Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy ..... ALI KINANI: [translated] I am Allawi. I am Allawi. ... of_9

Posted by: rcaruth | January 11, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The NYT wants to be known for making money. Same as The Washington Post and all the other big city newspapers that are currently losing money or are only marginally profitable.

To that end, newspapers hire or contract with writers who will draw readers, and thus also draw advertisers. Yes, each paper creates a business strategy and goes after writers that are consistent with that strategy.

But in the end, it's all about money. You make money for your paper, you stay. You don't, you go.

Capisci, Ms. Rubin?

Posted by: MsJS | January 11, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse


If you read Ezra Klein, obviously no right-winger, it was because she didn't answer a question of his at a meet and greet in 2007.

"Nick Baumann spoke to Bryce Tierney, a friend of Jared Loughner's, about the nature of Loughner's grudge against Giffords:

Tierney, who's also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period. He's unsure whether it was the same one mentioned in the charges -- Loughner "might have gone to some other rallies," he says -- but Tierney notes it was a significant moment for Loughner: "He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, 'What is government if words have no meaning?' "

Giffords' answer, whatever it was, didn't satisfy Loughner. "He said, 'Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question,' and I told him, 'Dude, no one's going to answer that,'" Tierney recalls. "Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her."

Correct? Who knows! We always get into murky waters when we try to ascribe rational motivations to the mentally ill. It's not that they don't have them, but that we have such a poor understanding of them.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 11, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The left is distraught that they no longer have a captive audience for their failed politicians and incoherent political ideologies. They have overreached on the Arizona shooter as much as they overreached on Bail Outs, stimulus and Obamacare. The liberal elites are crashing and burning at the behest of their own hubris. Well played, libs, well played.

Posted by: TheStatistQuo | January 11, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Correct? Who knows! We always get into murky waters when we try to ascribe rational motivations to the mentally ill. It's not that they don't have them, but that we have such a poor understanding of them.
Posted by: 54465446

A serious disorder of the brain is the cause of these behaviorial reactions. In fact,the term mental illness should be dropped because it mixes up cause and effect. When the brain is sick or injured,it affects the "mind",not the other way. To blame this shooter for his actions is no different from blaming an epiletic for their episodes.
Ironically,trying to help those with brain disorders is often disasterous,because treatment with the wrong drug/drugs in the wrong dosage,can exacerbate the underlying illness.
Also,our privacy laws are really adding to the problem of severe brain illness.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 11, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The 80% of the people in this country who are not liberals need to understand that while liberals control the vast majority of media outlets they no longer control public opinion. These establishment voices cannot persuade the public that ObamaCare is sound public policy or that Sarah Palin's map inspired a psychotic killer. They can spin their self-serving narratives all day long, but we're no longer buying. The Tea Party and the recent elections are proof.

Posted by: eoniii | January 11, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 54465446 | January 11, 2011 12:43 PM, for the detail on that 2007 meet and greet question/answer.

I finally read Krugman's column, just to see why so many on the right have hit him so hard. I stopped reading Krugman in 2008 when he went overboard on the Hillary vs Obama healthcare reform hair-splitting, and he certainly no longer deserves respect for his economic points since he went avowedly partisan. In fact, I keep meaning to sell my personally autographed copy of one of his books to see if I can get enough money to pay my cable bill.

Anyway, I read George Will today, and think he is zeroing in on the issue that the left really does still believe in the social engineering of peaceful, humanistic individual. So unrealistic to think that.

I am hoping the real debate gets back to the issue of the 2nd Amendment, the power of the NRA, and why anyone outside of the military needs a Glock19 with a 31-bullet clip. I do support the right to bear arms, but also support the concept that anyone who owns any kind of gun should face the same testing, licensing, and insurance requirements to own and drive a car. And really do not want semi-automatic and automatic weapons to be so easy for private citizens.

However, perhaps the minute Rep. Heath Schuler kills a protester in self-defense at a meet and greet is the day people will start respecting members of Congress. My bet is that Senator Jim Webb might beat Schuler to that moment in American history. Certainly more likely than members of congress beating each other senseless in session with a walking stick - referencing that real period of political discourserun amok: "...On May 22, 1856, Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with his Gutta-percha wood walking cane in the Senate chamber. The cause was a speech Sumner had made three days earlier, in which he had singled out a relative of Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler. Butler was not in attendance when the speech was read, but Sumner compared Butler with Don Quixote for embracing slavery, and mocked Butler for a physical handicap. Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, who was also a subject of criticism during the speech, suggested to a colleague while Sumner was orating that "this damn fool [Sumner] is going to get himself shot by some other damn fool." (Jordan et al., The Americans)
from wiki, which further notes that Brooks wanted to challenge Sumner to a duel, but was advised that Sumner was of a lower social class, thus unworthy of a duel.

Ah, the good old days!

Posted by: K2K2 | January 11, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The real issue isn't whether or not this shooter was inspired by political rhetoric. Assassins are usualy driven by some personal insanity and rarely have links to oranizations. They're usually way to disorganized to belong to groups.

The real issue for the rest of us who are sane should be the danger when we create a highly flammable atmosphere and a then a lunatic ignites a match (for no casual reason related to the people pouring out the gasoline) in that atmosphere.

If in the last 2 years of Pres. Bush's administration would it have suprised anyone if someone took a shot at him or VP Chenay? Some of that rhetoric was as vile as we see now so I tend to think not. But what would have happened to our country if someone had even if they were simply insane?

Right now, someone has shot a democratic congress member and it isn't coming as a suprise to many. What does that say about the environment we've created when many (including the victim) expected it to happen sooner or later?

Isn't it time we all took a deep breath and tried to remind ourselves the people we're vilifying are also our neighbors and Americans. No matter how much we disagree we're all still americans. So the next time someone says Bush was evil or Obama is a socialist take a moment to respectfully disagree and remind those people they're vilifying millions of their fellow americans and need to think twice or at all for that matter.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 11, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

kchses1, good post. While it is vile and self-serving to blame the rhetoric of one's political opponents for the crimes of a psychotic killer, it would be salutary if we all dialed back our rhetoric a bit -- on both sides of the ideological divide. Most of us on both sides are too quick to dehumanize our opponents and to attack motives rather than refute arguments. The tired military cliches used by both sides should also be retired. Our opponents in political debates are not our enemies.

Posted by: eoniii | January 11, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I would like to dial up the rhetoric up a little before we, it seems, leave this issue behind us. The Left wing tsunami of virulent commenting, propagating their blood libel, seems to have receded--as someone once said, I suspect they are reloading, not retreating. But this particular attack has clearly failed. This is not a time for "we could both be a bit more reasonable" kind of reflection. Rather, it's a time to remember what the Left is and what they want for us. To be generous, they want to force us to be free--but our adherence to our chains tries their patience more and more as time goes on, and they have clearly been in the "by any means necessary" mode for quite awhile. The truth is we live in two different Americas, and have for some while. We have been warned, once again.

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

adam62, vigorous political debate, often rancorous and occasionally defamatory, is as old as our nation. It's protected by the First Amendment and not going away. It shouldn't go away.

I agree with your view of the left. Many of them are truly awful people, obsessed with power and control of the great unwashed, i.e. us. The motive of the "civility" crowd is transparently to shut up the rabble, i.e. their political opponents. I recommend George Will's column today to any who missed it.

Yet, wading through all the bile in blogs like this from posters who have nothing to offer intellectually but invective, I have to wish that we could just rationally and calmly discuss the issues. Name-calling and personal denunciation cheapens the debate and obscures the real issues -- which is no doubt why the intellectually-bankrupt left engages in it as their best hope to reverse the last election.

It's not easy to respect the opinions of those who are intellectually dishonest, but it's better just to refute a weak argument in a respectful manner, as Jenifer Rubin does, than to get down on the level of Paul Krugman, the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post and to engage in name-calling and character-smears.

Posted by: eoniii | January 11, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

eonii, I agree with you about what we should do. But that has nothing to do with what they will do. Or with what they will say we are doing.

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 8:36 PM | Report abuse

By the way, take a look at the Power Line blog for an explication of Michelle Bachmann's "armed and dangerous" quote, which so many of our leftist visitors have been succurilously presenting as evidence of the right's collective guilt--if it's at all possible for your contempt for the Left to get any more intense, that will do it.

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Krugman should have a conversation with another Nobel winner who worked at Princeton...John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Nash might be able to educate Krugman about Schizophrenia.

The movie, A Beautiful Mind, made it look a lot better than it really is for the person experiencing it.

Another sad thing about the elder class at Princeton is that the often seem to lose their ability to be their creative self that got them invited to Princeton in the first place.

Einstein was one of those examples and Krugman may be another. He could just have lost his own mind. If nothing else he seems to be caught in a repetitious cycle and he cannot break free.

Posted by: letscheck | January 12, 2011 1:58 AM | Report abuse

Um, the difference between Krugman and Brooks is old fashioned COMMON SENSE!! And his op-ed column ooozes common sense. Anyone who kills innocent masses is unstable in some way or another. So shall we write up reports about the jihadist martyrs explaining away their actions b/c they were unstable? I am well acquainted with schizophrenia, I also know that no one lives in a vacuum. Paul K. was calling a spade a spade and was not afraid to do so. Good for him!! It is that brutal honesty and common sense that sets him apart from the mediocre. David Brooks - WAKE UP and smell the coffee!! The writing was on the wall for some time.
BTW calling someone a monkey is quite different from standing on the world stage and telling people to cock their guns and to behead someone and allt he other appalling irresponsible violent call to action that has been going on on FOX (Murdoch) TV and from that ridiculous no-brain Palin.

Posted by: cruz1 | January 12, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

- "An assassination of a politician IS a political statement. If the shooter were simply crazy, why did he choose a moderate Democratic Congresswoman who voted for health care reform? Was it pure chance?

You Ms Rubin are the one guilty of poor logic, not Paul Krugman."

When John Hinckley shot then President Ronald Reagan (and James Brady as a collateral victim) he did it to impress Jodie Foster, based on the characters she and Robert DiNero played in the movie "Taxi Driver". Yes, psychotic people do things for crazy reasons. Why did Loughner also shoot a federal judge, a 9 year-old girl, et al? Were those politically-motivated as well?

The ridiculousness of your comment should be quite obviousness.

Posted by: WuzYoungOnceToo | January 12, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

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