Arnold Kling  

After the Election

Reminder--lunch with me on Mon... Tweak Cafe and Save Detroit...

Paul Krugman writes,

for the past 14 years America's political life has been largely dominated by, well, monsters. ...Monsters like Dick Cheney, who saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start torturing people.

You can see how mellow Krugman has become now that he won a Nobel Prize and now that the Democrats have triumphed in an election.

I actually think that we will have one-party government for quite a while. The Republicans' only economic issue is tax cuts. Next time a tax cut looks remotely plausible anywhere, you be sure to give them a call.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will be like those teams that the Harlem Globetrotters used to bring out to destroy in exhibition matches. Everyone comes out to cheer the Globetrotters and have a good laugh at the other team's expense.

Some libertarians are making hopeful noises. They point out that the Democrats are liberal on social issues, and so are we. They point out that some of the anti-bigness attitude of academics like Lawrence Lessig ought to translate into libertarian thinking. They point out that the Democrats might have to do something responsible about entitlements, because they won't be able to blame Republican obstructionism for an inability to get things done.

Personally, I am not so optimistic. But on my worst days I'm not as bitter as Krugman.

UPDATE: If you think that everyone who should read Bryan's book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, has done so, check out this most un-Bryanesque column, linked to by Greg Mankiw, who has raved about Bryan's book.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (14 to date)
manuelg writes:

> You can see how mellow Krugman has become now that he won a Nobel Prize and now that the Democrats have triumphed in an election.

Based on the "Super Tracker" on, Krugman has been waiting for a phone call from the new administration since 9/25, drinking coffee. That would make anyone grouchy...

Bob Murphy writes:

Thanks for the link, Dr. Kling. I am not making a joke, my mouth literally fell open reading that Forbes piece. Are you (or Bryan) going to skewer it, or is it an exercise left for the student?

John Walpole writes:

Well, I know the whole Alinsky thing is a little weak and played out by now, but some current Alinskyites seem to believe that Obama is one of them.

An acknowledged Alinskyist group, the Southern Manitoba Economics Group Management Association (SMEGMA) in Canada says on its website that Obama shares its radical views, and explains how they believe Alinskyite principles will be implemented by Obama in his administration.

Stephen Gordon writes:

I don't get it. Should Americans become *more* mellow when their government starts torturing people in their name?

Why isn't outrage the appropriate response?

Arnold kling writes:

I'm against torture, too. But accusing someone of taking an "opportunity to torture" is a blood libel.

If he had used the word "excuse" rather than "opportunity" I would not have had a problem with it. But Krugman chooses his words carefully, and that one was uncalled for.

Nathan Smith writes:

Republicans should have an easy path back to power in 2010:
(a) Obama is likely to break a lot of campaign promises, including his promise to "cut taxes - cut taxes - on 95% of working families." Republicans can run on Obama's unfulfilled campaign promises.
(b) Since most of Obama's policies are perverse, they'll probably weaken the economy, and with it, his popularity.
(c) It won't be very hard to remind voters that, back in the fabled 1990s, it was a Democratic president *and a Republican Congress* that led the country to rapid growth and low unemployment.
(d) The redistricting that is scheduled for 2010 will lead to more seats in places like Texas and fewer in places like Massachusetts.
They might blow it, of course. Or, the Democrats, foreseeing their likely weakness in 2010, might be careful not to overreach -- though that's unlikely. But I don't think pessimism about the Republicans' future makes any sense at all.

bad dog writes:

How do you know it was uncalled for? Seriously, our own military says the information collected under torture almost always has no value. There is no atom bomb with a ticking clock and only torture will save the day. Since Cheney made a point of requiring torture (Abu Gharib obviously now not the work of a few bad apples but the result of a systematic program) despite the evidence saying it has no military utility, then one could reasonably argue that the vice president enjoys it for its own sake.

I'm not being flippant. Cheney brought this on himself and, like Krugman, he knows what he's doing. For eight years he embraced war as the first and best option. So it should be no surprise when people call him a warmonger.

bad dog

P.S. Cheney was wrong for the last 8 years on politics and economics. Krugman was right on both counts. So I guess we could cut him some slack.

P.S.S. Just started coming to your site, hope to make a habit of it. Really enjoying the content--thanks.

Greg Ransom writes:


Do you have any insight into Krugman's character and psychology?

Was he always like this?

I find constant dishonesty in his writing.

Is he dishonest on a personal level?

Was he dishonest as a young man.

Has he always been filled with hate?

Is this a Vietnam war thing?

What is it, then?

Randy writes:


Your points are good, but I don't want the same old Republican party to regain power. Quite simply, they are not who they say they are. If we're going to have progressives in charge no matter who we elect, then lets end the sham of "two party" government. All it does is allow the progressives to avoid responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Z writes:

The link below, buttresses Caplan's contention that voters are not rational.

[Undocumented youtube link removed. If you have source info and permission for this material, email the webmaster at to request restoring this link. Please do not post to EconLog links to undocumentable, copyrighted, or modified material. Modified, re-processed, unsanctioned videos do not buttress contentions from any viewpoint.--Econlib Ed.]

Nathan Smith writes:

re: "Cheney was wrong for the last 8 years on politics and economics. Krugman was right on both counts."

I would have said that Krugman has gotten the economics wrong, and embarrassingly so because of the acerbic confidence of his wrong predictions. For example, he's been predicting Great Depression-type disaster for four years, and even if that occurs now-- and so far, it's not at all clear that the real economy will suffer anything worse than a fairly normal recession after an expansion of fairly normal length, in which case Krugman's predictions would remain unwarrantedly pessimistic even in terms of the depth of the recession, let alone the timing-- the prophecy loses much or most of its vindication from being so premature. As for politics, yes, Obama won, but only by swinging so far to the right that he was outflanking McCain on tax cuts.

How does bad dog think Krugman has been vindicated? And, does bad dog think Krugman has been vindicated (about whatever he's supposed to have gotten right) already, or does it depend partly on further developments in the near future (e.g., deeper economic slump, lasting political realignment)?

Nathan Smith writes:

re: "Your points are good, but I don't want the same old Republican party to regain power."

Which Republican Party is that? The Republican Party of the 1994 "Contract with America" revolution, or the Republican Party of George W. Bush? Those are, in a way, quite different parties.

GOP congressmen found it difficult to resist a president of their own party who, after 9/11 and then 2004, seemed to have a popular mandate. Before that, though, they gave us welfare reform and budget surpluses and all kinds of deregulation that enabled low unemployment and massive wealth-creation. McCain's campaign already signalled, in some ways, a return to the party's small-government roots. With Bush gone it will be fairly easy and natural to complete that reversion.

Paranoid libertarian resentment of the GOP was always overdone and is mostly obsolete with Bush's exit. If libertarians don't open their minds to the GOP now, they have only their own self-destructive, quixotic purism to blame if the Republic sinks into the swamps of socialism.

C'mon folks. Work with us here.

Randy writes:


I was a Reagan Republican. The cold hard truth is that the reaction failed. The Progressives won. If Reagan couldn't do it, then nobody else can either. We are just going to have to live with a large Progressive government. I see no reason to pretend that there is an opposition party. Like I said, this just gives the Progressives someone to blame.

The way I see it, the best approach is to treat them like a boss you don't like. Say all the right things when asked, do exactly what you are told to do, document the foolishness in a politically correct way, and have faith that in time he will do something so utterly stupid as to get himself replaced. Yes, there is a possibility that he will take everyone else, including you, down in the process - but fighting him just sets you up as the person to blame when things go wrong. And things will go wrong. Lay low. Keep your job. Hope it blows over.

Nathan Smith writes:


Welfare reform.

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