• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Krugman the Magician

Berlin.

We’re going to take a look at an opinion piece by Nobel Prize winning-economist Paul Krugman, which is an absolutely classic example of how to smear your opponent in the basest and most sensationalist way possible while pretending to be some sort of principled, highbrow intellectual whom everyone respects. It ran in The New York Times under the title The Pastrami Principle … and is a work of pure magic.

Mr Krugman’s act begins with an account of a recent Twitter tiff involving Jeb Bush, Bill de Blasio, guns and a pastrami sandwich, which we don’t need to bother with as it’s just a set up for the smear-job Krugman is about to perform on Senator Sanders. The gist of the set-up is that the Republicans are crass and horrible for talking about who is and isn’t a “real American.”

The point of this little warm-up anecdote is to get us to the part where “Mr. de Blasio’s riposte, celebrating a characteristically New York delicacy, was a declaration that we’re also Americans — that everyone counts.”

Which sets Mr Krugman up for his shift … “Which is why it’s disturbing to see Palinesque attempts to delegitimize large groups of voters surfacing among some Democrats,” he laments.

Mr Krugman follows this up by condescendingly noting that “quite a few people seem confused about the current state of the Democratic nomination race,” but that, of course, to a Nobel Prize winning-economist like him, “the essentials are simple: Hillary Clinton has a large lead in both pledged delegates and the popular vote …” and a Sanders victory is “highly unlikely.”

Then the magic act begins in earnest … you have to watch his hands closely now.

First, Krugman claims that “the Sanders campaign is arguing that superdelegates … should give [Sanders] the nomination even if he loses the popular vote.” Which is of course untrue, but that doesn’t matter … because this is show biz, folks! (As evidence of this claim the Nobel Prize-winning Mr Krugman is presumably relying on a made-up story on Politico.com which got dutifully “echo chambered” by MSNBC and a handful of other dependable corporatist media outlets.)

And now Krugman the Magician is off to the races …

“But how can the [Sanders] campaign make the case that the party should defy the apparent will of its voters?” a momentarily baffled Krugman wonders, and then answers his own question thus: “By insisting that many of those voters shouldn’t count.”

The fact that the Sanders campaign has never insisted that southern voters “shouldn’t count” is not a problem at all for Mr Krugman, who simply asserts that they have with all the panache of any good stage magician. He chases this crafty move with a direct quote from the Sanders campaign pointing out that the Deep South is a “pretty conservative part of the country.”

And here comes the real magic … because now Krugman reveals, right before the eyes of his mesmerized audience, that “Mrs. Clinton didn’t win big in the South on the strength of conservative voters; she won by getting an overwhelming majority of black voters.”

Aha! Brilliant … Mr Krugman has just conjured “Sanders’ racism” out of thin air!

To reinforce the illusion, Krugman goes on to accuse Sanders of being “deliberately misleading” and denounces his non-existent “effort to delegitimize a big part of the Democratic electorate” (an effort which Mr Krugman just invented) as “a cynical ploy.”

“Can you imagine Democratic Party insiders deciding to deny the nomination to the candidate who won the most votes, on the grounds that African-American voters don’t count as much as whites?” Mr Krugman asks his readers, feigning shock at the outlandishness of a proposition no one in Sanders’ campaign has ever even hinted at.

You have to admire the audacity of these Nobel Prize winners!

Krugman wraps up his hit-job by scolding Mr Sanders and his campaign for the alleged racism Mr Krugman himself has just pulled out of a hat in order to smear them with. “We’re all real Americans,” Krugman crows, “[a]nd African-Americans are very definitely real Democrats, deserving respect,” he asserts, as if anyone had suggested otherwise.

What we’ve just witnessed is a veritable master class in slimy, manipulative smear tactics dressed up as insightful political commentary, and we’ve come to expect no less from Mr Krugman, and The New York Times, which, remember, was the paper that tricked the world into believing that Saddam Hussein had secret “weapons of mass destruction” back in 2003, so that the United States military could illegally invade Iraq after New York and Washington were attacked by a bunch of Saudis.

In terms of subtly manipulative smear tactics … it just does not get any better than this.

More articles by:

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or  consentfactory.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail