Brooks and Krugman

Bobo has decided that he’s a fan of “The Marco Rubio-Carly Fiorina Option.”  He gurgles that the Grand Old Party is changing, but not to the extreme it’s flirted with this summer.  In the comments “Arun Gupta” from NJ summed it up succinctly:  “The drowning man, grasping at straws; after having helped create the flood.”  Prof. Krugman addresses “Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate” and says Wednesday’s debate was full of bad ideas and outright lies.  Here’s poor Bobo, whistling past the graveyard:

My PBS colleague Mark Shields recently reminded me of the old saying that Democrats fall in love but Republicans fall in line.

Democrats have historically liked presidential nominees they can go gaga for, even if they lack experience: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. Republicans on the other hand like to nominate the guy who’s paid his dues and already lost a presidential run: Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

So far this year, the parties have switched love languages. Democratic voters have become responsible and middle-aged, telling pollsters they want experienced pols who can work within the system. Republicans are embracing their inner adolescent.

By a majority of 64 to 30, conservative Republicans tell pollsters they want their candidate to be an outsider. Republican governors in the debates reel off long data-filled paragraphs about their accomplishments, and you can feel the entire Republican electorate doing the bored valley girl eye roll.

Republicans radiate more alienation than the sophomore class at a Berkeley alternative high school. They have also entered a weird post-material political space. Many Republicans show little interest in candidates who offer proposals, but flock to the ones who offer outrageous self-expression.

Donald Trump has emerged as the prankster narcissus. It doesn’t matter that he might not be able to find Syria on a map; he offers America hair, boasting, misogyny and insult. There’s no woman who can’t be reduced to a physical object. The socially insecure rise and applaud as he insults the people they’d never have the guts to take on themselves.

Republicans used to be split between economic and social conservatives. But this year the big fight is tactical.

One group wants to rip up the political process and disrupt everything. Renounce the Iran deal on Day 1, no matter what our allies say. Ignore the Supreme Court and effectively disallow gay marriage. Shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood. Magically deport the 11 million illegal immigrants.

This is more or less the Bobby Jindal-Ted Cruz wing. (During those milliseconds when Trump is capable of entertaining a policy thought, he wanders into this camp.)

The others, like Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and Jeb Bush, live within the confines of reality. You can’t actually defund Planned Parenthood or end Obamacare if you don’t control the White House. Offending every global ally on the first day of a new administration might have some nasty knock on effects. You can’t actually erase the 14th Amendment and end birthright citizenship.

Over the summer the burn-down-the-house crowd had an amazing run, but if this week’s debate is a sign of anything, it is that the party is going to go off on a different trajectory. The outsiders are about to slide. Trump’s Don Rickles act wears thin. His ego may be galaxy-sized, but his policy ignorance is a void that overspills the known universe. He’s the Wizard of Oz. When the bluster curtain falls down, what’s left is pathetic.

That doesn’t mean the party will snap back to its old establishmentarian tendencies. Bush had several moments to deliver a devastating blow — like challenging Trump for going after his wife — but he couldn’t quite turn them into hot-blooded signature moments. Three hundred and fifty years of WASP reticence have left habits of gentility and emotional guardedness that inhibit him, just as they inhibited his father.

When Trump attacked him for his bilingualism, Bush retorted, “Well, I’ve been speaking English and I’ll keep speaking English!” This is not exactly a killer retort. It’s a nice guy’s impersonation of a killer retort.

Instead, the party will veer on a course midway between outsider and establishment. It will probably end up with some hybrid candidate — sharp of tongue, gifted in self-expression and yet still anchored in the world of reality.

That’s where Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio come in. So far, Fiorina has looked like the most impressive candidate. She has a genius for creating signature moments. (“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Mrs. Clinton’s.”) But her spotty record at Hewlett-Packard probably means she can’t start at the top of the ticket.

Rubio is young and thus uncorrupted, and he is a genius at relating policy depth in a way that is personal. He has clarity of mind and can sum up a complex subject — Russia, the Middle East — in a way that is comprehensible but not oversimplified.

This debate was one moment in time, but you can see the vectors of where this campaign is headed. This is no longer Bob Dole’s or George H.W. Bush’s G.O.P. But it’s not going to completely lose its mind, either.

It’s going to be somewhat the same, but edgier and more renegade. Right now, Rubio, Fiorina and maybe Chris Christie are best positioned to occupy that space.

“Her spotty record at Hewlett-Packard” is one of the most amazing things Bobo has come up with.  In other news, the Atlantic is damp.  Here’s Prof. Krugman:

I’ve been going over what was said at Wednesday’s Republican debate, and I’m terrified. You should be, too. After all, given the vagaries of elections, there’s a pretty good chance that one of these people will end up in the White House.

Why is that scary? I would argue that all of the G.O.P. candidates are calling for policies that would be deeply destructive at home, abroad, or both. But even if you like the broad thrust of modern Republican policies, it should worry you that the men and woman on that stage are clearly living in a world of fantasies and fictions. And some seem willing to advance their ambitions with outright lies.

Let’s start at the shallow end, with the fantasy economics of the establishment candidates.

You’re probably tired of hearing this, but modern G.O.P. economic discourse is completely dominated by an economic doctrine — the sovereign importance of low taxes on the rich — that has failed completely and utterly in practice over the past generation.

Think about it. Bill Clinton’s tax hike was followed by a huge economic boom, the George W. Bush tax cuts by a weak recovery that ended in financial collapse. The tax increase of 2013 and the coming of Obamacare in 2014 were associated with the best job growth since the 1990s. Jerry Brown’s tax-raising, environmentally conscious California is growing fast; Sam Brownback’s tax- and spending-slashing Kansas isn’t.

Yet the hold of this failed dogma on Republican politics is stronger than ever, with no skeptics allowed. On Wednesday Jeb Bush claimed, once again, that his voodoo economics would double America’s growth rate, while Marco Rubio insisted that a tax on carbon emissions would “destroy the economy.”

The only candidate talking sense about economics was, yes, Donald Trump, who declared that “we’ve had a graduated tax system for many years, so it’s not a socialistic thing.”

If the discussion of economics was alarming, the discussion of foreign policy was practically demented. Almost all the candidates seem to believe that American military strength can shock-and-awe other countries into doing what we want without any need for negotiations, and that we shouldn’t even talk with foreign leaders we don’t like. No dinners for Xi Jinping! And, of course, no deal with Iran, because resorting to force in Iraq went so well.

Indeed, the only candidate who seemed remotely sensible on national security issues was Rand Paul, which is almost as disturbing as the spectacle of Mr. Trump being the only voice of economic reason.

The real revelation on Wednesday, however, was the way some of the candidates went beyond expounding bad analysis and peddling bad history to making outright false assertions, and probably doing so knowingly, which turns those false assertions into what are technically known as “lies.”

For example, Chris Christie asserted, as he did in the first G.O.P. debate, that he was named U.S. attorney the day before 9/11. It’s still not true: His selection for the position wasn’t even announced until December.

Mr. Christie’s mendacity pales, however, in comparison to that of Carly Fiorina, who was widely hailed as the “winner” of the debate.

Some of Mrs. Fiorina’s fibs involved repeating thoroughly debunked claimsabout her business record. No, she didn’t preside over huge revenue growth. She made Hewlett-Packard bigger by acquiring other companies, mainly Compaq, and that acquisition was a financial disaster. Oh, and if her life is a story of going from “secretary to C.E.O.,” mine is one of going from mailman to columnist and economist. Sorry, working menial jobs while you’re in school doesn’t make your life a Horatio Alger story.

But the truly awesome moment came when she asserted that the videos being used to attack Planned Parenthood show “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” No, they don’t. Anti-abortion activists have claimed that such things happen, but have produced no evidence, just assertions mingled with stock footage of fetuses.

So is Mrs. Fiorina so deep inside the bubble that she can’t tell the difference between facts and agitprop? Or is she deliberately spreading a lie? And most important, does it matter?

I began writing for The Times during the 2000 election campaign, and what I remember above all from that campaign is the way the conventions of “evenhanded” reporting allowed then-candidate George W. Bush to make clearly false assertions — about his tax cuts, about Social Security — without paying any price. As I wrote at the time, if Mr. Bush said the earth was flat, we’d see headlines along the lines of “Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.”

Now we have presidential candidates who make Mr. Bush look like Abe Lincoln. But who will tell the people?

Certainly not the NYT…

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One Response to “Brooks and Krugman”

  1. Hammer It Says:

    Referring to the TO of Compaq as a blemish on an otherwise spotty record is embellishing her credentials. The board throughout the takeover fight was against her. She walked off with head held high holding stock options and cash equivalents worth a reported twenty-one million. That’s 2005. Before NFL QB’s collected that much in a sixteen game season.
    Rubio? Mickey Mouse? He took credit loudly mind u for shouting out to himself that three years ago he backed the idea of supporting some unknown rebel group to fight Assad. I think that would be the last thing he’d want to bring up at a debate. This statement was topped off with Bush et al giving the world another sound byte of the US is not the police force for the world but when we leave a void the whole planet rushes to an early grave. Yikes Syria is going to have a Russian base! They’ve been Iran’s proxy for years who in turn is Russia’s proxy. It’s unbelievable that the Grey Lady can only now see the dimension of Russia in the Middle East after their weighing in and sitting atop Kerry-Obama on the Iran deal. Shout all u want that something is better than nothing but really do u ignore the fact that China and Russia are at the table convincing us that the deal is swell.
    Anyway the Republicans have the worst assortment of individuals who pretend they are worthy of the office of president of the US. Which leaves us with a conciliatory speech from Hillary at best.

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