Friday, January 02, 2009

More Intellectual Dishonesty

If there's one thing I hate, it's intellectuals who slyly attempt to marginalize dissenting opinions through the use of conspiracy theory-styled logic. It's unbecoming, it's intellectually dishonest, and it's exactly what Paul Krugman does in his op-ed in the Times this morning, Bigger Than Bush. According to Krugman, the Republicans are first and foremost the party of racial backlash and their governance the past forty years has been a response to that philosophy, with the Bush administration just being the most recent example.

And you see, Krugman has evidence. Why the GOP, in the post-segregation era, did adopt a "Southern Strategy." And back in the 1980's Ronald Reagan did say that government was the problem, not the solution. And at times, the Republicans of the past did exploit racial and class tensions in their electoral politics. So by golly, Reagan's talk of limited government must have, first and foremost, had a racial rationale. And all the talk of government being the problem is why we ended up with such an incompetent administration today: because these Republicans don't care about good government. So it all makes perfect sense. At least, it makes perfect sense if you're the sort that can be convinced Israel and the US government was responsible for 9-11 and that by golly, the government still isn't telling us what really happened at Roswell after all these years.

It's terribly disappointing to know that a guy that just won the Nobel prize for economics (Krugman) can be either so stupid or so intellectually dishonest. Weaving truths and half-truths into a semi-coherent narrative is not an intellectual argument, it's pure fantasy. Obviously, the Republicans have racial demons in their past, but the party worked hard to vanquish those demons in the 90's. Democrats have racial demons as well, but no one holds them accountable for the racism of 50's and 60's Democrats when it is quite obvious the party has moved forward.

Equally obvious is the strain of libertarian, limited-government thought that appears, off and on, over the last 50 or so years of the Republican party. Equally obvious is that it comes and goes. Barry Goldwater was famous for his views on limited government- Richard Nixon not so much. And while Reagan is admired by some libertarians, you'd be hard-pressed to find either Bush on a any libertarian's heroes list. Electoral politics can be messy business and both parties can do nasty things. But there's a major difference in the business of electoral politics and a philosophy of governance.

Most glaringly repellent is the how Krugman melds everything together. Racial backlash=limited government=George Bush. To Republicans who would accuse Obama of favoring big government, Krugamn warns "they’ll learn two things: not only has the financial crisis discredited their economic theories, the racial subtext of anti-government rhetoric doesn’t play the way it used to." Or in other words, don't even try it.

It's one thing to point out the numerous mistakes, numerous examples of incompetence and general philosophical bankruptcy of the Bush administration, or at least make arguments in those directions. And it's another thing, as an intellectual to debate various philosophies of governance. But having already used the financial crisis to dismiss limited government without debate, Krugman has decided to take things a step further, connecting limited government with racism. With a black dude in the White House, that ought to really kill off any opposition to Obama's economic plans. God help us.


Anonymous rose said...

My favorite is Krugman implying that anyone who wants small government doesn't care how competant government is. That's a nice leap.

I just want one of these Krugman types to explain to me why it is the US economy was so broken prior to 1980 and has been an absolute juggernaut since. Anyone can break out some numbers for the last 50 years and see that SOMETHING happened between 1980 and 1982 that changed the course of the Country. Most economists would tell you it was the adoption of economic theories that Krugman describes as racist and disproven.

11:23 AM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

That's a real good point that I don't think I've ever really made here. It is a big leap to go from wanting small government to having a lack of concern about government competence in general.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous rose said...

One other thing on racial backlash:

1) Obama tried in basically succeeded in painting Bill Clinton as a racist in the dem primary.

2) Obama ran a spanish language add linking mccain to some out of context, quasi-racist limbaugh comments.

3) Obama claimed mccain would try to make people scared of him for being black.

4) Obama was boys w/ wright, a huge bigot, whom john mccain refused to even bring up so that he could completely avoid that type of bullshit race-card crap krugman is demonstrating.

I apologize if I left anything out, but Krugman's messiah barack obama played the race-card card shamelessly in both primaries against opponents who were scared shitless of being branded racists for merely questioning him.

11:42 AM  

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