Dissecting Paul Krugman’s Bernie backlash: Being a Sanders skeptic doesn’t make you a hack – Salon.com

They remember how critical Krugman was of candidate Obama in the 2008 primary; and they remember that he was the “anti-Obama” during the president’s first few years in office. But they also remember that Krugman ultimately came to write an influential Rolling Stone piece in the president’s defense. They believe that the Democratic Party establishment is in the tank for Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ chief opponent. They figure Krugman, now firmly back in the establishment’s clutches, is following suit.

Again, it’s not a wild or outrageous narrative. It doesn’t require imagining Krugman is part of a coordinated campaign, devised in some dark and shadowy conference room — perhaps the one the Springfield Republican Party uses — with elevating Clinton, and thwarting Sanders, as its goal. But it’s still wrong; and it misremembers (or misrepresents) not only Krugman’s positions in the past and today, but also, by proxy, the position of Sanders-skeptic lefties in general.

From: Dissecting Paul Krugman’s Bernie backlash: Being a Sanders skeptic doesn’t make you a hack – Salon.com

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25 thoughts on “Dissecting Paul Krugman’s Bernie backlash: Being a Sanders skeptic doesn’t make you a hack – Salon.com

  1. That’s a good piece by Elias. I think he’s trying to cut thru some of the metameta bull**** that’s taking over the Dem primary by showing that critics aren’t what some folks on the Other Side claim they are. Personally, I find all the vitriol directed against Bernie to be very surprising. Well, not the vitriol (since it’s politics after all) but the focus of it: that he’s a pie-eyed dreamer whose policies are hopeless. The argument seems be that folks who are feelin the Bern ought not make the perfect the enemy of the good and by grounding their views in Realism come to support a Clinton candidacy as the best way to achieve liberal – or at least Dem – goals. But that’s incoherent, from at least one pov: Bernie’s supporters (if we take them at their word!) don’t think a Clinton candidacy IS the best way to achieve liberal goals.

    Now, I think Elias is probably right that Krugman is a policy guy who believes Bernie’s policies either make no economic sense or are economically harmful (or etc) irrespective of the political-possibility argument, so attacking Krugman for attacking Bernie on those grounds is quite likely misplaced. In general, however, that’s the texture of the arguments I’m seeing against Bernie: they take place at the meta-political level of what’s politically possible. But that strikes me as a bit of a disingenuous cop out, and a deflection as well. The liberal-centrist argument against Bernie ought to be that his policies aren’t very good. Otherwise the centrist-liberal is left looking like a stooge: they agree that Bernie’s policies are desirable and better than Hillary’s even while they’re criticizing him and supporting her.

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    • Well, I think it’s entirely fair game to try to persuade Sanders supporters that supporting Sanders is not the best way to advance liberal policy goals, and I certainly am not going to begrudge them the opportunity to try to persuade me that it is. Indeed, I’m finding this campaign season rather frustrating because I feel like neither the Clinton nor the Sanders campaigns are doing a particularly good job arguing their respective cases.

      E.g., I’m skeptical on pretty much every level of Sanders’ single payer healthcare plan (I don’t think has a snowball’s chance, and even if it does, I think it will have serious problems). Nonetheless Clinton and her surrogates have done very little to make a solid case against it, nor have they done much to explore the policy space outside of a cloud candy fantasy single-payer approach.

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        • I don’t feel Sanders has demonstrated that he has a clear plan for how to use the Office of the President to advance his agenda. He focuses on this idea that if he’s elected that will be enough to bring the Republicans to the table, despite the fact that after Obama’s 2008 landslide and the accompanying Democratic wave, he couldn’t even consistently keep his own party onside, and the GOP decided that categorical resistance was the best response.[1] Clinton has a more modest agenda, to be sure, but I also know she’s really well acquainted with the Executive Branch, and the way it differs from the Senate.

          For one recent and particularly egregious example, Sanders recently Tweeted that he would only appoint Supreme Court Justices who will make it their first priority to overturn Citizens’ United. Now, I’m not a big fan of that decision, but c’mon.

          [1] This has been enough to win them Congress and a ton of state governments, so it’s not like they have strong incentives to be more conciliatory in the future.

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          • If I were a liberal I’d rather support someone that held liberal beliefs (sanders) even if they didn’t know how to immediately implement them over someone that really isn’t a liberal (Clinton) in the first place. Clinton dangles her liberalness but disappoints when it comes time to deliver.

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            • The policies Sanders proposes aren’t really my cup of tea, but if they were, I’d still lean toward Clinton because there’s more to governing than making noises that please your base. And at the end of the day, the job is to govern.

              We’re seeing a pretty good example of what happens when we forget that in the Republican primary. It’s just a bunch of people falling all over themselves to push the party line harder and harder, and the less constrained by reality a candidate feels, the more able he is to make noise and get attention.

              Ultimately, Bernie Sanders isn’t going to ride in on a white horse and single-handedly implement a single payer healthcare system with 95% top marginal tax rates. Donald Trump isn’t going to construct a 1933 mile wall and get Mexico to pay for it. Santa Claus isn’t going to come down the chimney and give us all toys. So why are we scratching our chins at the ballot box as though these are realistic possibilities to weigh? Why do we care whose fantasy promises are more appealing? Why not just vote based on what will actually happen if we give these people the keys to the car?

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          • I don’t feel Sanders has demonstrated that he has a clear plan for how to use the Office of the President to advance his agenda.

            I hear ya, but I think comments like this have an edge on the other side, too. Eg, one reason this type of criticism isn’t leveled at Hillary is that her agenda is so status-quo-oriented that questions about “advancing it” don’t really make any sense.

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          • For one recent and particularly egregious example, Sanders recently Tweeted that he would only appoint Supreme Court Justices who will make it their first priority to overturn Citizens’ United.

            Presumably his second will be to prohibit the use of armed guards by corporations, the third to commandeer corporate office buildings to quarter soldiers in peacetime.

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            • Eh, for all that the plaintiffs (and the majority) have a valid point in Citizens United, I still think it was wrongly decided, and for roughly the reasons that Sanders’ objection is based on. While money is speech, and corporations have free speech rights, money is also money, and can be used to purchase goods and services, like, say, the services of a politician. I think the state’s interest in making sure that politicians are not doing donors’ bidding and cracking down on soft corruption is compelling.

              The problem is that Sanders appears to have no idea how the Supreme Court works and what the limits of its powers are, nor does he betray any sense of the difficulty of getting a SCOTUS Justice confirmed, especially one who’s an obvious hack from the get-go.

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                • @notme:
                  Bah humbug.Liberals have had a pro abortion litmus test for their SCt candidates for years, they just don’t publically say it. Sanders is honest enough to tell you what his test is upfront.

                  Exactly. It’s a major violation of the norms around appointing Supreme Court Justices[1], even if you personally think it’s a silly bit of Washington kabuki.

                  [1] It’s not like there isn’t an anti-abortion litmus test for conservatives.

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                  • And the never, never, never talked about litmus tests for the big-business arm of the Republican establishment that justices must believe that (a) corporations are people, too, my friend; and (b) some animals are more equal than others. Cases where the Court has decided something that appears to favor the little guy over big business have become so rare that SCOTUSblog makes exclamations of surprise over them.

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              • Maybe you already know this, but just so we’re on the same page: Corporations cannot donate any money at all to a politician’s campaign. What Citizens United allows them to do is sponsor independent political speech about candidates, and donate money to organizations that sponsor such speech.

                So that’s one option. Putting aside obvious first amendment issues, the alternatives that come to mind are:

                1. Continue to allow corporations to sponsor speech about candidates, but not to donate money to other organizations for that purpose. Note that this privileges corporations that have enough money that they can sponsor and widely broadcast political speech directly.

                2. Media corporations retain freedom of speech about political candidates, but other corporations do not. This privileges media corporations, and also non-media corporations with enough money to acquire or establish a media arm.

                3. Prohibit political speech about candidates by all corporations. This privileges individuals and partnerships with enough money to sponsor political speech.

                4. Ban political speech about candidates altogether.

                Which of those do you prefer?

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                • Brandon Berg:
                  Maybe you already know this, but just so we’re on the same page: Corporations cannot donate any money at all to a politician’s campaign. What Citizens United allows them to do is sponsor independent political speech about candidates, and donate money to organizations that sponsor such speech.

                  Yes, and that seems to be more than enough to raise concerns about quid pro quo arrangements between politicians and donors.

                  So that’s one option. Putting aside obvious first amendment issues, the alternatives that come to mind are:

                  My prefered alternative is to restrict corporations from making “electioneering communications” independently of a candidate’s campaign, which was the status quo prior to Citizens United. I suppose that fits under your option (2) if you squint at it:

                  2. Media corporations retain freedom of speech about political candidates, but other corporations do not. This privileges media corporations, and also non-media corporations with enough money to acquire or establish a media arm.

                  Yeah, it priveleges media corporations, but I think that’s a reasonable trade-off in light of the importance of maintaining both the reality and appearance of a government that’s free of corruption. “The freedom of the press only applies to those who own one,” worked pretty well for a couple centuries.

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        • “Why would supporting Sanders, who is more liberal than Clinton, not be the best ways to advance liberal policy goals?”

          The feeling is that making big moves right away will scare all those icky nasty racist homophobic misogynist white men, who will consign Sanders to the Permaneg Bin and oppose everything he does from that point on, even if it’s personally handing every white man in America a fifty-dollar bill.

          Which is an interesting contrast to discussions around things like Obergefell where it was just obvious that we couldn’t wait around for Americans to get comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage and come to it in their own time, and instead needed to, as it were, ram it down their throats.

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          • Actually, part of the reason why even those of us who believe gay marriage should’ve been instituted from on high ASAP weren’t worried about the aftermath of Obergefell was because polling was on our side at this point.

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