Krugman on Dean II

February 15, 2005

As stated in the previous post, NYT columnist Paul Krugman argues that Dean is not a liberal, but a fighting moderate. First, let’s stipulate that Mad Howard is a fighter. But what about his liberalism?

Here’s how Krugman begins his column:

The Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there,” Howard Dean said in accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. “But there is something that this administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe.”

Those words tell us what the selection of Mr. Dean means. It doesn’t represent a turn to the left: Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense. Instead, Mr. Dean’s political rejuvenation reflects the new ascendancy within the party of fighting moderates, the Democrats who believe that they must defend their principles aggressively against the right-wing radicals who have taken over Congress and the White House.

It was always absurd to call Mr. Dean a left-winger.

Notice Krugman’s unstated premise: If Dean is squarely in the center of his party he must not be a liberal. I’m scratching my head over that one. I would have thought that if I were in lockstep with a party whose grassroots supporters were a hodgepodge of left wing extremists I would be a liberal, not a moderate. I would have thought that if I’d made my bed with a decidedly liberal party, it would be reasonable to infer that I was a liberal.

But in Krugman’s denial we should grasp another unintended revelation. Krugman, like so many of today’s liberals, especially those in the Old Media (NYT, CBS, ABC, NBC, etc.), doesn’t acknowledge that liberalism is liberalism. There is an arrogance that pervades elite liberalism dictating that liberalism isn’t ideological; it is simply the only rational choice of an enlightened people. So people like Krugman and the CBS moguls Bernard Goldberg wrote about in “Bias,” may not even see their own ideology, much less their bias. On their political spectrum unequivocal liberalism is squarely in the center. Anything to the right represents right wing extremism. Anything to the left — well, there isn’t much room there because the left, no matter how far you go, is the culmination of millennia of human advancement. If they prayed, they’d be petitioning God to accelerate the advancement of right wing Neanderthals. But since they don’t, they just go on hating them :).

In the next post I’ll address a few more of Krugman’s “enlightened” points of argument.