Krugman’s blog, 1/31/16

There was one post yesterday, “Pre-Iowa Notes:”

I don’t know what will happen in the caucuses tomorrow. Actually, I know what will happen on the Republican side: someone horrifying will come in first, and someone horrifying will come in second. The names are less clear.

On the Democratic side, well, the last five polls all show Clinton in the lead, and FiveThirtyEight gives her an 80 percent chance of winning, but it’s not a sure thing.

While we wait, however, a few informal, not very analytical thoughts on the Democratic race. I’ve talked to a few friends who are Sanders supporters, some others who are Clinton supporters, and I have some impressions. This is not reporting; just a personal reaction.

The appeal of the Sanders campaign, at least to people I know, is that it brings a sense of possibility. For those who were joyful and uplifted on inauguration day 2009, the years that followed have been a vast letdown: American politics got even uglier, policy progress always fell short of dreams. Now comes Sanders — very different in personal style from Obama 2008, but again someone who seems different and offers the hope of transformation. And some people really want to hear that message, and don’t want to hear that they’re being unrealistic.

But there’s something else, which I keep encountering, and which I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice: even among progressives, the two-decade-plus smear campaign against the Clintons has had its effect. I keep being told about terrible things the Clintons did that never actually happened, but were carefully fomented right-wing legends — except I’m hearing them from people on the left. The sense that where there’s smoke there must be fire — when the reality was nothing but Richard Mellon Scaife with a smoke machine — is very much out there, still.

Unfortunately, that underlying Foxification of perceptions marries all too well with the tendency of some — only some — Sanders supporters to assume that any skepticism about their hero’s proposals or prospects must reflect personal corruption. Something like that was probably inevitable in a campaign whose premise is that everything is rigged by the oligarchy, but it interacts with the vague perception, the product of all those years of right-wing smearing, that there’s a lot of Clinton dirt.

Even among those who don’t believe in the phony scandals, there is, as there was in 2008, a desire for someone new, who they imagine won’t bring out all that ugliness. But of course they’re wrong: if Sanders is the nominee, it will take around 30 seconds before Fox News is nonstop coverage of the terrible things he supposedly did when younger. Don’t say there’s nothing there: a propaganda machine that could turn John Kerry into a coward can turn a nice guy from Brooklyn into a monstrously flawed specimen of humanity in no time at all.

On the other hand, that history is, I think, one factor behind a phenomenon we saw in 2008 and will see again this year: there’s a lot more passionate support for Clinton than either Sanders supporters or the news media imagine. There are a lot of Democrats who see her as someone who has been subjected to character assassination, to vicious attacks, on a scale few women and no men in politics have ever encountered — yet she’s still standing, still capable of remarkable grace under fire. If you didn’t see something heroic about her performance in the Benghazi hearing, you’re missing something essential.

And Clinton’s dogged realism, while it doesn’t inspire the same kind of uplift as Sanders’s promise of change, can be inspiring in its own way.

The truth is that both Democrats have a lot of genuine, solid support. Both had 80 percent approval among Democrats in the DMR poll released yesterday. One item from that poll that seems to have surprised reporters:

There’s no enthusiasm gap — it’s just different forms of enthusiasm.

So here we go. May the best person win.

I loved his take on the Republican primary results…



One Response to “Krugman’s blog, 1/31/16”

  1. Mo' Jo Says:

    Space X rockets merely take off but Cruz’ has blasted off in the race to represent God on earth. Not sure what the creatures on the ninth planet think and well they may but this puts the US squarely ahead of Iran. We now are assured of winning with Mohammed taking third to Jesus who wins every race except when it comes to bringing peace to his homeland and his People.
    More important than God will the Fed be in charge of the gold or will we be using some new currency? At least Mexicans will be allowed to slave in the vineyards and in the construction industry. Thank God, or Cruz or someone that Robert’s court actually looks better balanced. Ruth Ginsberg’s odds of being replaced before the inevitable? Zero. Hillary’s chances improved to one out of a Google if that’s a measurement.
    All all this goes on and science marches on. Thank the real God.

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