Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, October 10, 2003  

Krugman hasn't hit a homer in a few weeks. Today he did.

All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.

On the fiscal front, this administration has used deceptive accounting to ram through repeated long-run tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits. And it continues to push for more tax cuts, when even the most sober observers now talk starkly about the risk to our solvency. It's impolite to say that George W. Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Krugman will get into trouble for this article because he lays claim to the truth, when in fact he's asserting opinion. In the quote above, for example, he offers as fact that the President is "the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history." Is that an objective fact? Is it empirically evident? Obviously not. But for those who will excoriate Krugman, let me offer this suggestion: read it not as a statement of objective fact, but rather the clearest example available of why liberals are so infuriated by Bush. All my lefty buddies will nod ferociously when they read this article. "Yep," they'll say, "that's exactly right."

There's a reason Krugman's articles are so resonant to the left right now.

In the months after 9/11, a shocked nation wanted to believe the best of its leader, and Mr. Bush was treated with reverence. But he abused the trust placed in him, pushing a partisan agenda that has left the nation weakened and divided. Yes, I know that's a rude thing to say. But it's also the truth.

Bush got all kinds of traction for his "moral clarity." Moral clarity, in these po-mo times, is strictly the purview of the conservatives. Liberals have eschewed it. "Moral clarity" is to them narrow-mindedness. But in the face of a Bush administration that wields its clarity as a club and distinguishes between friend and foe by their ability to toe the clear line, liberals have been rocked back on their heels. Add to that the fact that Bush's "clarity" so often appears as Rove's cynical political machinations, and we've been left gasping. Krugman has been the rare voice who spoke truth to these politics. Not big T truth--which is how conservatives interpret his articles--but the observational truth that Bush is a deceiver, that his moral clarity is whatever benefits him and his buddies. Today's article should be read as one of Krugman's clearest expressions yet of this argument, not as his claim to some big T truth.

posted by Jeff | 10:16 AM |
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