Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Paul Krugman expresses despair at President Obama's apparent rejection of Keynesian economic ideas -- the need for more stimulus right now rather than belt-tightening, the notion that unemployment this high isn't the inevitable result of automation and other changes in the way business is conducted today. Krugman writes:

...since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.

I know a lot of you are certain that he believes what he’s saying. I'm not. I don't think he knows what he believes without getting a nod of approval from his GOP and fat-cat overlords. That's the problem.

We know the basic narrative about the "liberal media": a large percentage of journalists are culturally liberal, cool with abortion and gay rights and all that, but right-wingers "work the refs" until these same journalists embrace right-wing frames in their discussion of just about everything. They may do this even while continuing to regard themselves to be liberals. After a certain point, they don't even need to be worked -- they work themselves.

I'm saying that that's what's happened to Obama. I think he thinks he's a liberal. I also think he thinks it's necessary for his survival in politics not to rock the boat -- and the modern GOP and ever greedier fat cats have made clear that the "rocking the boat" line would be crossed if even one major fat cat were indicted in the wake of the financial meltdown, if the profits of major financial institutions were curtailed even slightly by a mortgage program that genuinely helped ordinary Americans, or if (at this point) any economic program even an inch to the left of Hoover's were undertaken. Obama desperately wants not to be a rabble-rouser, and the powers that be have responded to that impulse by defining a half-century's worth of mainstream economics as rabble-rousing. Obama's inner compass tells him not to have an inner compass -- or, rather, it directs him to be directed. It tells him to let other people explain what he's allowed to do.

So is it true that "he believes what he’s saying"? Well, he's not sure. He'll have to ask.

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