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Ed Driscoll

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Krugman?

January 13th, 2011 - 3:06 pm

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal on “the Manichaean wing of American liberalism:”

As we have noted, the New York Times’s response to last weekend’s murders in Tucson was to instigate a witch hunt against Republican politicians and “particularly” against members of the independent (nonliberal) media. This appealed to what one might call the Manichaean wing of American liberalism: those who mistake political disagreement for enmity, who are so strongly prejudiced against conservatives as to regard them, in some sense, as less than fully human.

Yet that is not what one would call a broad appeal–a point powerfully made by a USA Today news story:

Most Americans reject the idea that inflammatory political language by conservatives should be part of the debate about the forces behind the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and a congresswoman in critical condition, a USA Today/Gallup Poll finds.

A 53% majority of those surveyed call that analysis mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. About a third, 35%, say it is a legitimate point about how dangerous language can be.

This is an astonishing finding. Only 35% of those surveyed think the New York Times’s position is even legitimate. And although President Obama, in his speech last night, did not go so far as to call it illegitimate, he did make his disagreement clear:

If, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy–it did not–but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

“It did not.” With those three truthful words–an improvisation or a late addition, as they were not in the prepared text–the liberal president rebuked the out-of-control liberal media that have, under the leadership of the New York Times, been engaging in a vicious campaign of lies and smears.

Ace of Spades posits that the Times simply had to run the prepared text so as to avoid including one of the very few successful ad libs the president has ever made — and likely the only one that has ever been aimed leftward:

Hot Air has “[-- it did not --]” in brackets because that wasn’t part of the speech as written — Obama apparently inserted it.

It’s possible, likely I’d say, there was debate on the “It did not” line and at the last minute they took it out, as a pander to the left; but Obama did actually put it back in. So whatever his motives here — doubt ‘em as I do — in the end he did say something important. “It did not.”

That’s a big reason that many right-leaning people are praising the speech, by the way. I didn’t catch that (because I was looking at the transcript of the speech as prepared) when I said it was bad.

I sure would have liked a stronger statement.

Got that? Good. Now watch how the NYT quotes Obama.

This horrific event, he said, should be a turning point for everyone — “not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation.”

They delete the “It did not” entirely. Now, you may say, “Well they were going from the prepared remarks.” Um, okay, but they did see the speech, did they not? It was on at 8:30 or so Eastern; it’s not as if it aired too late for them to quote him accurately.

No, they deleted this because this hurts The Narrative. That’s right, Obama himself wounded The Narrative, and not accidentally, either; but deliberately, because he knew The Narrative was false. And even though he didn’t have the inclination to offer a longer repudiation of it, he did nevertheless offer up a brief, unscripted one.

And this was too much for the New York Times to take, because they have so much riding on The Narrative; they, along with their in-house mental patient Paul Krugman, have been pushing it the very hardest among all newspapers, even when other “lesser” newspapers have noticed it to be quite wrong.

They’re not giving up the ghost, you see, and if that means editing Obama’s actual words to keep The Narrative in better health, so be it.

At Commentary, (H/T: The Anchoress) John Steele Gordon looks at Krugman’s column on Monday (in which he teed off on Michelle Bachmann) and rhetorically asks, “Have you no decency, sir?”

Even the Times’s first public editor, Daniel Okrent, said that Krugman has a “disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.” He is no less cavalier with quotes. As John Hinderacker at Power Line shows, complete with a recording of the entire interview, Michelle Bachmann was merely using a metaphor. She was holding a town hall meeting with constituents regarding the cap-and-trade bill and said, “I’m going to have materials for people when they leave. I want people armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back.” She was arming them with information, not bullets, so they could successfully oppose a terrible bill, not shoot politicians.On June 19, 1954, Joseph Welch asked Senator Joe McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” It turned out to be the tipping point in McCarthy’s career, the moment when public opinion turned decisively against him. By the end of the year, he had been censured by the Senate. He died a few years later, the object of public scorn, which he remains for most.

I hope that Krugman’s column on Monday, when he shamelessly used a tragedy to smear his political opponents, will be his have-you-no-decency-sir moment. He deserves one. He is the Joe McCarthy of our times.

Indeed.™ More on the next page, and some Alinsky Rule #4 Photoshop pushback, after the jump.

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