Tuesday, May 09, 2006

[political-researchp] Bloglines - Paul Krugman, Waiting To Meet Adam Smith

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Tom Maquire, by being horrendously wrong, manages to make Krugman look a smidge better.

Riding With The Virtual Mongol Horde 24/7.... Would You Believe, 2/5?.

Paul Krugman, Waiting To Meet Adam Smith

By Tom Maguire

Paul Krugman attempts to run both history and logic backwards in his latest diatribe:

Some people say that bizarre conspiracy theories play a disturbingly large role in current American political discourse. And they're right.

For example, many conservative politicians and pundits seem to agree with James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, who has declared that "man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

Of more immediate political relevance is the claim that the reason we hear mainly bad news from Iraq is that the media, for political reasons, are conspiring to suppress the good news. As Bill O'Reilly put it a few months ago, "a good part of the American media wants to undermine the Bush administration."

But these examples, of course, aren't what people are usually referring to when they denounce crazy conspiracy theories. For the last few years, the term "conspiracy theory" has been used primarily to belittle critics of the Bush administration — in particular, anyone suggesting that the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to fight an unrelated war in Iraq.

We need an explanatory note here - David Brooks, Prof. Krugman's fellow Times columnist, has written two columns on The Paranoid Style in American politics, including one just last May 4.  Irving Kristol struck the same theme in January 2006 with "The Paranoid Style In American Liberalism.  And the granddaddy of them all is Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" from Nov 1964.

But are the global warming and liberal media examples really any sort of example of a conspiracy?  Krugman thinks so:

A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, "attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance." Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations — scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations — are secretly coordinating their actions.

I am going to pass on the global warming conspiracy theory, since there are no examples on offer.  But honestly - to believe in a liberal media I have to believe that "reporters for dozens of different news organizations — are secretly coordinating their actions"?  Why do I have to believe that?  Why isn't it enough to believe that, as per Adam Smith's Invisible Hand, with each reporter and editor pursuing their predominantly liberal predispositions, we will end up with a mainstream media that ends up bashing Bush?  Where is the need for secret coordination in the case of the media, since their work product is quite public and open to inspection by the competition? 

But about the Democratic side, Krugman says this:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left — which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe — the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.

A tiny fringe?  Wasn't that Michael Moore of Fahrenheit 9/11 fame that I saw at the Democratic Convention in Jimmy Carter's box?  Didn't the Congressional democrats practically declare a special session at the well-attended 9/11 premiere?

Or how about the Halliburton/Cheney/"No Blood for Oil" theme - here is a "tiny fringe" ad alluding to that notion aired by the Kerry campaign.

A "tiny fringe".  That fringe might include former Presidential front-runner and current DNC chair Howard Dean.  Back in 2003, Mr. Dean had a fascinating chat during which he promoted the theory (with a disclaimer that it's "nothing more than a theory") that Bush was ducking a 9/11 investigation because Bush had been warned ahead of time about the attack by the Saudis.

That would represent a real conspiracy, unlike the strawman example of the liberal media.

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