Centrist fail up
What Krugman said:
The continuing defense of Paul Ryan is a remarkable phenomenon. He’s still being treated by many pundits as a man deeply concerned about deficits, when the fact is that his policy proposals are all about redistributing income upward, and make no serious effort to curb debt. He’s even given credit for advocating higher taxes on the rich when he has more or less specifically rejected the things for which he’s given credit.Could it be that Krugman's also referring to the avatar of journalistic malfeasance, James B. Stewart in the New York Times yesterday morning?
What’s going on here? The defenders of Ryan come, I’d argue, in two types.
One type is the pseudo-reasonable apparatchik. There are a fair number of pundits who make a big show of debating the issues, stroking their chins, and then — invariably — find a way to support whatever the GOP line may be. There’s no mystery in their support for Ryan.
The other type is more interesting: the professional centrist. These are people whose whole pose is one of standing between the extremes of both parties, and calling for a bipartisan solution. The problem they face is how to maintain this pose when the reality is that a quite moderate Democratic party — one that is content to leave tax rates on the rich far below those that prevailed for most of the past 70 years, that has embraced a Republican health care plan — faces a radical-reactionary GOP.
What these people need is reasonable Republicans. And if such creatures don’t exist, they have to invent them. Hence the elevation of Ryan — who is, in fact, a garden-variety GOP extremist, but with a mild-mannered style — to icon of fiscal responsibility and honest argument, despite the reality that his proposals are both fiscally irresponsible and quite dishonest
This week, President Obama called him a social Darwinist. The conservative Club for Growth criticized him for wimping out on Medicare and military spending, and Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican, blasted him for not cutting tax rates more deeply.And to think they have the gall to call his column "Common Sense." I'll let you read the whole pile of compost for yourself if you are a masochist, but I think you get the gist. Paul Ryan is the "reasonable center" with his plan to completely destroy the country. I'm guessing they're printing up the Paul Ryan for President 2016 bumper stickers already --- and Stewart's got himself a volume discount.
I figure Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is head of the House Budget Committee, must be doing something right.
While we're here, let's take a look back at James B. Stewart, shall we? Just to remind ourselves how slow minded centrists get used by conservatives and fail up in the mainstream media:
[C]elebrated journalists continued to predict the first lady's probable indictment as the election year began, most notably Pulitzer Prize winning author James B Stewart. Published by Simon and Shuster in 1996 to the accompaniment of a multimedia publicity campaign, Stewart's book Blood Sport claims to be the inside story of "the president and first lady as they really are." Set forth as a sweeping narrative, it includes dramatized scenes and imaginary dialog purporting to represent the innermost thoughts of individuals whom the author had in some cases never met, much less interviewed.
"Scenes that Mr Stewart could never have observed first hand," complained New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani, "are recounted from an omniscient viewpoint. Mr. Stewart rarely identifies the sources for such scenes not does he take into account the subjectivity and oftens self-serving nature of memory. The reader never knows whether the quotes Mr Stewart puts into the mouth of an individual... are from a first or second hand source." --The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton
Here's Gene Lyons from his earlier book, Fools for Scandal: How The Media Invented Whitewater:
But then came Stewart’s big book tour. For a while, you couldn’t turn on a TV talk show without seeing Mr. Pulitzer Prize. Nightline, Washington Week in Review, Charlie Rose, National Public Radio—the man was everywhere. And just about everywhere he went, Stewart made the same pitch. Blood Sport uncovered no big crimes in Whitewater, just a lot of deceit, bad character, and political opportunism. But surely, Ted Koppel urged during Stewart’s March 11, 1996 Nightline appearance, there was something. “What is it you would say,” Koppel asked, “if you were obliged, in fifteen or thirty seconds, to summarize what is troublesome about Whitewater and what will come back to haunt the Clintons?”...
This is the fellow who's doing deep analysis of the Ryan plan for The New York Times these days. Let's just say everyone should be a tad skeptical of his conclusions.
My favorite Blood Sport blunder happened during the publicity tour. Asked by Ted Koppel on Nightline what was the worst thing he'd found in Whitewater, Stewart replied gravely. "It is a crime to submit a false financial document," he said. He accused Hillary Rodham Clinton of filing a false financial statement to renew a Whitewater loan in 1987. He added that the First Lady's guilt was "a question for a prosecutor and a jury to decide."
The insinuation was as smug and false as the book, and as easily disproved. Joe Conason at the New York Observer noticed something at the bottom of the document, reproduced in Blood Sport. It was this little notice: "BOTH SIDES OF THIS STATEMENT MUST BE COMPLETED." So Conason got a copy of the original statement. Guess what? All the stuff Stewart accused Hillary of fudging was right there. Mr. Pulitzer Prize had neglected to check the second page.
And, by the way, this fellow's latest book is all about how lying is ruining our culture.