The Krugman Test

By Dan Froomkin
11:40 AM ET, 03/31/2009

Newsweek's cover story this week is about Paul Krugman, the New York Times opinion columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist who has also become a leading critic of the Obama administration's bank bailout plans. But the story arguably says more about Washington's establishment than it does about Krugman.

Consider this astonishingly frank admission from author Evan Thomas: "If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am), reading Krugman makes you uneasy. You hope he's wrong, and you sense he's being a little harsh (especially about [Treasurey Secretary Tim] Geithner), but you have a creeping feeling that he knows something that others cannot, or will not, see. By definition, establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring. But sometimes, beneath the pleasant murmur and tinkle of cocktails, the old guard cannot hear the sound of ice cracking."

That, to me, says a lot not just about the establishment's uneasiness with Krugman -- but about its increasing discomfort with President Obama's ambitious and transformative agenda. I've collected my many posts on that topic into one place, for your browsing pleasure.

And Eric Boehlert blogs for Media Matters with another thought about the cover: "During the Bush years, Krugman, from his same perch on the pages of Times' opinion pages, waged about as vocal a campaign as humanly possible to warn readers and the country about what he considered to be the perilous policy decisions the Bush administration was embracing, and what the disastrous results for America would be.

"Looking back on the Bush years, Krugman's track record was rather impeccable. But you'll note he didn't appear on the cover of Newsweek back then. (No 'Bush is Wrong' cover lines.)..

"But now a Democrat is in the Oval Office, Krugman is still hitting the president from the left, and suddenly the Beltway press thinks Krugman's work is fascinating and newsworthy....We just think everyone would have been better off if the press had paid this much attention to Krugman's work between, say, 2002 and 2006."

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