The UnAustralian

Friday, October 24, 2003
The Problem with Paul Krugman

Paul Kurgman presents many in the lunar regions of the right–wing blogosphere with a problem. Basically, he has forgotten more about economics than what they will ever know, and given that his criticisms of George Bush are pretty unrelentingly, that makes him "America's most dangerous liberal pundit". And that's led to a small group of professional smearers to rake over his columns looking for ways to attack him.

Fortunately, for liberals like myself, their attacks are about as weak and rhetorically overblown as they come. Calpundit has a good example of one of these attacks by Donald Luskin here.

However, know there appears to be a new meme to attack Krugman on. Krugman as the anti-Semite.

It all comes down to a column on Mahathir Mohamad's stupid remarks. Krugman's column (which can found here) essentially states that Mahathir isn't stupid, and that his anti-Semitic remarks are deliberately made for domestic benefit. And that the reason that Mahathir is getting points at home for these remarks is that there is a "strong the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among Muslims in Southeast Asia". The current increase in this tide is due to US actions in Iraq and the close relationship between the US and Israel.

Whether or not this is accurate isn't the point of this post, but rather it is mock some of the more stupid remarks and commentary by certain bloggers (and many thanks to Bargarz for finding many of these knobs).

To use one example, Oliver Kamm writes rationalises away Mahathir's anti-Semitism. This complaint simply isn't true. Krugman makes no attempt to defend Mahathir's remarks, merely to explain them. Krugman does however, make a number of derogatory comments about them. Kamm later qualifies his remarks in the comment section of his blog by stating "he downplays Mahathir's moral responsibility for those sentiments" - however he doesn't provide a quote or other evidence of any sort to back this up. Probably because it only exists in his mind.

Some other points on this:

* Mahathir has made similar remarks in the past. This one is a no-brainer. Simply by reading Krugman's column, one could work this out. I would have thought that "[a]lmost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act, something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98" would have give it away.

* Krugman smears Luskin by calling him a stalker. Reality: Luskin is pretty damn creepy. If someone was reporting on almost everything that I blogged about, and then came to a book launch of mine while writing "I have looked evil in the face. I've been in the same room with it. I don't know how else to describe my feelings now except to say that I feel unclean, and I'm having to fight being afraid", I wouldn't consider it to be that unfair to call the person a stalker.

* Krugman doesn't disclose his links with Mahathir. I'm not sure why this one is that important. It's pretty well known that Krugman has done lots of research on Asia. That he has attended conferences in Malaysia. Apparently, Krugman has offered Malaysia advice in the past, some of which was taken up. He's also been invited to conferences in Malaysia, and he may have had his airfares, accommodation etc paid for by the Malaysian government. The corruption is shocking.

| 12:20 AM