|Well, OK, I guess we have one thing in common.|
Just ask any of my close friends who’ve been forced to sit through one of my numerous rants about American politics and they’ll all tell you the same thing—after the mainstream media itself, public enemy number one is probably Paul Krugman. OK, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but that’s only because I pretty much equally despise every pundit out there. And I’m not above admitting that that’s because none of them agree with me on 100% of the issues. But Mr. Krugman has a special, permanent spot reserved on my naughty list. I know it’s quite presumptuous for me to judge a Nobel laureate, but I know intellectual dishonesty when I see it. And Krugman’s blog, The Conscience of a Liberal, makes him out to be less a renowned economist and more a Democratic windbag. Note that I don’t say “liberal windbag” because his positions aren’t so much advocating a liberal point of view as they are a “Democratic-policies-are-always-better-than-Republican-policies” point of view.
You can imagine what kinds of problems that particular attitude can pose over time, as our two hypocritical political parties change their views on certain issues based on who is in power. Remember back in 2006, when Democrats thought deficits were a bad thing and a senator named Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling because it “weakens us domestically and internationally”? He doesn’t take that same position today.
And Dr. Krugman indeed has these problems. Here he is in January 2012, poking fun at conservative “deficit-worriers” who “portray a future in which we're impoverished by the need to pay back money we've been borrowing.” The national debt, he says, doesn’t matter all that much. But flash back nine years (when we had a Republican in the White House), and there is the same Dr. Krugman explaining that he switched to a fixed-rate mortgage because he’s “terrified about what will happen to interest rates once financial markets wake up to the implications of skyrocketing budget deficits.” Hmm.
The latest example of this type of behavior from our duplicitous Nobel Prize winner comes in the form of an attack on a former ally—statistical wunderkind Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight. Silver and Krugman were once colleagues at The New York Times, when the latter frequently heaped praise on the former for his very accurate predictions regarding the 2012 elections. Dr. Krugman admired Silver for defying the wildly fantastical “gut-feeling” approach of most political pundits and actually using data analysis to predict election outcomes. He found it refreshing that someone would put the so-called election “experts” in their place.
That is, of course, until Silver left the Times for ESPN and began taking on other types of experts, namely climate scientists and economists like Dr. Krugman himself. As Silver has cheekily documented on his own, “Mr. Krugman’s views of FiveThirtyEight have changed since it re-launched March 17 under the auspices of ESPN. The columnist has mentioned FiveThirtyEight four times in just nine days, all in negative contexts.” According to Mr. Krugman, Silver was right to go after political pundits, who “know approximately nothing,” but he is mistaken to take on economists, who “work hard on the data.” When it comes to economics, Krugman says, “you’re going to do better by tracking their research than by trying to roll your own.” In other words, Nate, you may be smarter than political analysts but you mustn’t go so far as to think you’re as smart as Dr. Krugman. After all, he is a Nobel laureate, remember?
And Krugman isn’t alone. Others on the left are attacking FiveThirtyEight for daring to speak out against the climate change narrative in one of the new website’s first posts. The Climate Consensus blog at The Guardian has accused Silver of undermining his brand by “misrepresenting climate research.” They, like Dr. Krugman, are incensed that this upstart little blog would presume to be as smart as they are. “FiveThirtyEight can crunch data better than most politics and sports analysts,” the headline says, “but not better than scientific experts.” Or economists, I guess, since their article also quotes (yep, you guessed it) Paul Krugman. They basically parrot his sentiment that although Silver’s contrarian analysis in 2012 brought him success and fame, looking for counter-intuitive results in other areas just makes you look silly. Hmm.
Now we can add Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to the list of people attacking Mr. Silver. In response to FiveThirtyEight's recent prediction that the Republicans are favored to take the Senate, Reid had this to say: “He gave me a 16 percent chance of being reelected, he gave Heidi Heitkamp an 8 percent chance of being reelected, he gave Jon Tester a  percent chance of being reelected. So all polls are about like Nate Silver’s predictions: good sometimes, bad most of the time.” In other words, they’re good when they tell you what you want to hear and bad when they don’t. Clearly, Silver missed a memo at some point—if you’re not going to use your brainpower to back up the liberal establishment, then be quiet.