by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Paul Krugman has become our most original and insightful commentator on the American scene. In his essential NY Times column, he was the first pundit to attack George W Bush, way before 9/11 or the Iraq War. He called Bush Jr a liar, and said Bush fudged his economic numbers.
But lately, Krugman has been a disappointment, because of his persistent sneering at Bernie Sanders.
What's up with that? Bernie Sanders may be our first honest politician, a straight-up progressive, who is doing America the favor of moving Hillary over to the left. He is an authentic dyed-in-the-wool liberal who complained about income inequality decades before Occupy Wall Street made it part of the national conversation. He voted against the Iraq War. His prescriptions would turn us into a socialist democratic state with a strong social safety net and a better single-payer health system. He stands for a $15 minimum wage. Free community college tuition, paid for by a Wall Street transaction tax. Big infrastructure spending for more jobs. Money out of politics. Break up the big banks.
What's not to like about Bernie?
But Krugman finds stuff — usually sucked out of his thumb. Why? Is Krugman's nose so deep up the butt of the Democratic Establishment that he can't see past it, or out of said posterior? Here is his latest smear on Bernie:
The Sanders campaign has come much further than almost anyone expected, to the point where Sanders can have a lot of influence on the shape of the race. But with influence comes responsibility, and it's time to lay out some guidelines for good and bad behavior.
The first thing to say is that it's still very unlikely that Sanders can win the nomination. Don't tell me about national polls (and cherry-pick the polls that show your guy getting close); at this point it's all about delegate counts, where Clinton has a substantial lead with the voting more than half over … To overtake Clinton in pledged delegates, Sanders would need to win by about a 13 point margin from here on in:
Nothing in what we've seen so far suggests that he'll come anywhere close to that. He'll probably win Wisconsin next week, but that's a demographically favorable state for him, so unless it's a huge blowout (which the polls aren't showing), Clinton will still be very much on track for the nomination.
Now, as the bumper stickers don't quite say, stuff happens. But at this point it's something like a 90 percent probability that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Anyone denying that arithmetic is basically pulling a con job on Sanders supporters.
So what does that say about appropriate behavior on the part of her rival? Two things, I'd argue.
First, the Sanders campaign needs to stop feeding the right-wing disinformation machine. Engaging in innuendo suggesting, without evidence, that Clinton is corrupt is, at this point, basically campaigning on behalf of the RNC. If Sanders really believes, as he says, that it's all-important to keep the White House out of Republican hands, he should stop all that – and tell his staff to stop it too.
Second, it's time for Sanders to engage in some citizenship. The presidency isn't the only office on the line; down-ballot races for the Senate and even the House are going to be crucial. Clinton has been raising money for other races; Sanders hasn't, and is still being evasive on whether he will ever do so. Not acceptable.
Oh, and the Sanders campaign is saying that it will try to flip superdelegates even if it loses the unpledged delegates and the popular vote. Remember when evil Hillary was going to use superdelegates to steal the nomination? Double standards aside, what makes the campaign think that he will get any backing from a party he refuses to lift a finger to help?
It's important to realize that there are some real conflicts of interest here. For Sanders campaign staff, and also for anyone who has been backing his insurgency, it's been one heck of a ride, and they would understandably like it to go on as long as possible. But we've now reached the point where what's fun for the campaign isn't at all the same as what's good for America.
Unbelievable pettiness. Aimed at the only politician in the running who has consistently acted the gentleman. Here is how a NY Times reader rebutted Krugman in a most-readers-picked comment:
At one point in time I thought we were on the same side, and I could easily see myself backing Clinton. Unfortunately, thanks to her and her supporters, I don't hold those sentiments anymore.
The smears, lies, dishonesty, and victim playing by the Clinton camp and her supporters is outrageous. It was Hillary who lied numerous times about Sanders and the auto bailout. It was Hillary lying about his support from the Clean Power Plan. It was Hillary who tried to link Sanders to the racist minutemen. It was David Brock, a Hillary surrogate, calling Sanders a racist and questioning his health. It was Krugman and many others calling Sanders supporters sexist with the debunked Bernie Bro label. It was Chelsea Clinton telling people that Bernie was going to take away their Obamacare and lied about the cost of his educational policies. It was Thorpe who lied about the cost of single payer. It was Hillary supporters who lied about Sanders' Civil Rights Record. It was Krugman, who for years arguing we had an output gap worth rectifying via fiscal stimulus, only to use a study by “serious” economists that showed we have no output gap in order to invalidate Sanders spending policies. It was Hillary who promised to have more debates, only to turn around and play the victim.
I realize that Clinton supporters believe that she is pure as the driven snow, and Sanders is some evil, radical commie out to destroy her and the Democratic Party, but that is simply not the case.
There you have it. Krugman is so in the tank for Hillary, he has become blind, nasty, narrow-minded and one-sided. It is high time the Democratic Establishment got in touch with their progressive base. That's the future of the party: Bernie gets 80% of the under-30 vote. Right-of-center Democrats like Rahm Emmanuel and now, seemingly, Paul Krugman, run the risk of being dinosaurs.
Pity. One hopes Krugman manages to live down this sorry episode in his otherwise admirable punditry.