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Paul Krugman's bizarre assertions

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes that "the bitterness of the fight for the Democratic nomination is, on the face of it, bizarre."  Actually, the only thing that's bizarre is why Krugman would say this about a contest that has been astonishingly civilized and free of rancor.

I don't agree with, and I don't understand, Paul Krugman.  On one hand, he insists Barack Obama cannot succeed because he is not cutthroat enough.  I don't agree with that; he is succeeding precisely because he's not engaging in Nixonian hate politics.

Bizarrely, Krugman also criticizes the Obama camp for being too cutthroat with Hillary Clinton.  I don't agree with that either; this has and continues to be a refreshingly positive campaign, even as it has become more and more intensely fought.

But I really just don't understand most of what Krugman says in his latest anti-Obama column.  First, he says the race between Clinton and Obama is bitter.  So bitter, in fact, that he finds it appropriate to compare it to "Nixonland," the "land of slander and scare, of the politics of hatred."


I've been watching this campaign pretty closely, and I think it's been upbeat and cordial.  Where's the bitterness Krugman is talking about?  Both candidates have run on the issues and avoided negative attacks.  Many of their supporters would be happy to support the other against the Republican in November.  Krugman says of Obama supporters that they "want their hero or nobody."  Huh?  I'm surrounded with Obama supporters, and I haven't met the first one who said they'd sit at home if Obama isn't the nominee.  Krugman can't see much difference between the enthusiasm for Obama and a cult of personality, of which the best example he can find is the support for George W. Bush after our toppling of Saddam Hussein.  Huh?  Although I think Bush supporters were mistaken about the nature of our victory in Iraq, I always thought that people supported Bush because they were mistaken about the facts or committed to political principles that I was not -- never that there was any "cult of personality" surrounding George W. Bush.

The truly ironic thing is that the reason the Obama campaign has caught fire is exactly because it, more than Clinton's campaign, stands for what Krugman says he wants to see: and end to the politics of hatred, an acknowledgment that "there are principles that matter more than short-term political advantage."  And yet Krugman seems reluctant to support Obama precisely because it explicitly advocates an end to the politics of hatred.  Doing that, Krugman comes close to saying in his other columns, is naive.

Krugman's judgment that Hillary Clinton ought to be the Democratic nominee for president is one with which I disagree.  I only wish that I could understand it, and Krugman's columns aren't helping.

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