Posted by Curt on 24 November, 2016 at 10:08 am. 10 comments already!


Daniel Payne:

I have to admit, I was surprised to read this particular rant by Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist and columnist for the New York Times (he won the Nobel for his work on economics, not his writing). Having read a New York Magazine piece that theorizes that some state election machines may have been “hacked,” thereby costing Clinton the election, Krugman declared:

[N]ow that it’s out there, I’d say that an independent investigation is called for…Without an investigation, the suspicion of a hacked election will never go away.

Really: “never?” Well. Krugman quickly backed off after Nate Cohn challenged this thesis (so much for “never”), but a number of hours later he shared a Vox piece: “The election probably wasn’t hacked. But Clinton should request recounts just in case.” Just in case!

It might be fair to say that Trump’s election kind of broke the brains of many people both left, right and center: nobody expected it and a great many people really didn’t want it to happen. But the Left seems to be taking it the hardest, and this is perfectly exemplified by Paul Krugman, a genuinely brilliant fellow who has started to sound like a tinfoil-hat-wearing neighborhood crank.

Just so we’re clear, the “suspicion of a hacked election” that Krugman latched onto—the one that “will never go away”—was spelled out this way:

While it’s important to note [the Center for Computer Security and Society] has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.

Yes, it is surely “important to note” that there has been no “proof of hacking or manipulation.” But that doesn’t go far enough by half: there isn’t even any evidence of such, except for some voting patterns that, as Nate Cohn points out, vanish when you control for certain variables. Gabriel Sherman mixes up the cause and effect: proof is demonstrated after an investigation, the latter of which is undertaken only on the basis of strong-enough evidence—which doesn’t exist here (unless you’re an aggrieved liberal pundit, I guess).

But the real story here isn’t the wacky teeth-gnashing of the American Left, though that is quite a story in its own right. No, the most astonishing aspect of the whole thing is that Paul Krugman could be swayed by such a flimsy and unsubstantiated accusation. What it suggests is that the election damaged the political psyche of liberals in ways that it will probably take a while for us to understand.

Consider, by way of example, this excerpt written by a prominent liberal about a decade ago:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left — which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe — the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences. And we can safely predict that these people will never concede that they were wrong.

The writer was none other than Paul Krugman. The column was entitled, “Who’s Crazy Now?” Good question, Dr. Krugman!

Krugman’s flip-flop—from a denigrator of “crazy conspiracy theories” to an eager promoter of them—exposes perhaps just how fragile the political psyche of modern American liberalism is. The current American Left—the most prominent set of politicians, pundits, writers and academics working today—was forged in the fire of the Bush years, for the Left a time of paranoia, nonstop anger, smug self-righteous back-patting and intellectual balkanizing. These tendencies have been present among progressives for decades, of course, but it is hard to overstate just how much George W. Bush exacerbated them. Prominent among these liberals, of course, is Paul Krugman, who was a constant, sneering critic of both Bush and Republicans more generally during those years.

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