Paul Krugman is in the wrong line of work. As a pundit for the New York Times, he is mediocre at best and usually much worse. He should be working for the Democrats as a guy who presents their case on the cable news shows, for his latest column reveals him to be the ultimate spinmeister. Titled "Rove's Third Term," the piece is a defense of General Clark's attack on John McCain's war record.
The fact that he would defend a smear that even Obama has distanced himself from tells you something about Krugman. Like the rabid partisans at Democratic Underground and Daily Kos, Krugman never condemns a Democrat attack on Republicans, no matter how outrageous.
First, he fudges about what Clark said, implying that all the attention it got is just Republican propaganda:
What General Clark actually said was that Mr. McCain’s war service, though heroic, didn’t necessarily constitute a qualification for the presidency. It was a blunt but truthful remark, and not at all outrageous — especially given the fact that General Clark is himself a bona fide war hero.
But here is Robert Novak's description of what happened:
Clark, along with other Obama surrogates, followed the campaign's line of downgrading McCain's performance as a Vietnam War POW. But Clark was particularly insulting. ("I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.")
Clark is in fact the eighth prominent Democrat to attack McCain's war record, evidence that the Obama campaign feels the need to attack McCain's character. McCain spent 22 years as an officer in the United States Navy, which Clark chose to belittle as "riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down." Yes, Clark's statement by itself is true, but is it a fair portrayal of McCain?
Here is another blunt, true statement: John Kerry threw away his medals after he got home from Vietnam. Now, if Bush had sent surrogates on TV to argue that true statement, don't you think Paul Krugman would have been the first to object?
But we have not even got to the outrageous spin yet.
Yet the Clark affair did reveal something important — not about General Clark, but about Mr. McCain. Now we know what a McCain administration would represent: namely, a third term for Karl Rove.
But the McCain campaign went beyond condemning General Clark’s remarks; it went out of its way to distort them. “This backhanded slap against John as not being a worthy warrior because he just got shot down is one of the more surprising insults in my military history,” said retired Col. Bud Day, who participated in a conference call organized by the campaign. In fact, General Clark had said no such thing. [BS. Clark's comment is an obvious insult. Day's characterization of Clark's meaning is accurate. Krugman is being too cute by half when he pretends Clark's statement was merely an innocent statement of fact. -- Myrhaf]
The irony, not lost on Democrats, is that Col. Day himself has done what he falsely accused Wesley Clark of doing: he appeared in the 2004 Swift boat ads that impugned John Kerry’s wartime service.
The willingness of the McCain campaign to engage in these tactics, employing such tainted spokesmen, tells us that the campaign has decided to go negative — specifically, to apply the strategy Karl Rove used so effectively in 2002 and 2004 (but not so effectively in 2006), that of portraying Democrats as unpatriotic.
So because the McCain campaign fought back against an attack on McCain's character, the candidate is going negative! In the world according to Krugman, Republicans must not only desist in any attacks on Democrats, but if they even defend themselves against Democrat attacks, they are guilty of Rovian unfairness!
Paul Krugman is a man who has, as the current phrase goes, "drunk the Democrat kool-aid." When Democrats smear a Republican's character, they are just being "blunt but truthful." When Republicans defend themselves, they are "going negative." Such is life in the liberal cocoon.