by Henry Farrell on May 1, 2013

“Clive Crook”:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-30/paul-krugman-s-proud-war-on-fools-knaves-and-lunatics.html tells us again that Paul Krugman is shrill and angry.

bq. [Krugman] is wrong about many of the people who disagree with him and about the best way to guide opinion. He’s enormously influential with those who need no persuading, which is to say not very influential at all. He would have more influence where it would actually make a difference if he developed — or at least could feign — some respect for those who aren’t his disciples. … Krugman says his opponents are motivated by politics. …. Talk about lack of self-awareness. Does Krugman imagine that he isn’t motivated by politics? A line has been crossed when the principal spokesmen for contending opinions have no curiosity whatsoever about their opponents’ ideas and radiate cold, steady contempt for each other. … Meanwhile, for the side that thinks it has the better arguments, naked contempt for dissenters is plain bad tactics. That isn’t how you change people’s minds.

Clive Crook previously on self-awareness of one’s own political motivations.

bq. “We floating voters”:http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2ca5e1e4-b112-11de-b06b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2S44pbbZy see things differently. We approve of consensual politics, thinking that it delivers better policies. And we believe this for two main reasons. First, good policy involves trade-offs. … Second, good policy requires stability

bq. “the message”:http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2ca5e1e4-b112-11de-b06b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2S44pbbZy to the electoral centre was consistent: Mr Obama would have let the left have its way if he could. What he should have done – and what he ought to do from now on – is simple. Instead of blessing leftist solutions, then retreating feebly to more centrist positions under pressure, he should have identified the centrist policies the country could accept and advocated those policies. … The left will tear its hair over another surrender and the centre will note where the president’s sympathies actually lay.

bq. “He should have chosen centrism unreservedly”:http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/95af8f36-9295-11df-9142-00144feab49a.html#axzz2S44pbbZy – as many voters believed he had promised during his election campaign. Then he could have championed, as opposed to meekly accepting, centrist bills that maintained the role of private insurance in healthcare and a stimulus that included big tax cuts. … Had he owned and campaigned for those centrist outcomes, the left would have been no angrier than it is anyway. The anger of the left, like the anger of the right, is always simply on or off: it cannot be modulated. But this fury could then have been co-opted as Mr Obama’s and the Democrats’ best asset going into November – proof to centrists and independents that the president was on their side.

Clive Crook previously on how one should be curious about the ideas of dissenters, rather than treating them with naked contempt.

bq. “The Democratic party’s civil libertarians”:http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/55522abc-4894-11de-8870-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2S44pbbZy seem to believe that several medium-sized US cities would be a reasonable price to pay for insisting on ordinary criminal trials for terrorist suspects.

bq. “Nothing short”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bef99b4c-c9af-11df-b3d6-00144feab49a.html of the Scandinavian model (plus stronger unions, minus the commitment to liberal trade) will ever satisfy the Democratic left. Its role, its whole purpose, is to be betrayed. So betray it, Mr President, and start leading from the centre.

I think it would be fair to say on the evidence that Clive Crook fancies himself as a centrist only interested in the pure and disinterested exercise of good policy judgment, but is in fact strongly (and even irrationally) motivated by his partisan animus against the left. I think it would also be fair to say that he’s at the ‘naked contempt towards dissenters’ end of the spectrum himself when those dissenters have the poor judgment to be leftwing.

Crook closes the column by suggesting:

bq. if Krugman got out of his bubble a bit more, he’d find that the other half of the country contains no more than its fair share of knaves, fools and lunatics — and a lot of thoughtful, public-spirited Americans whose views on the proper scale and scope of government are different from his, yet worthy of respect.

Perhaps Crook might consider taking this advice himself. I’d actually be willing to help set it up for him in the unlikely event that he did.