Krugman v. Friedman

There’s a great deal to enjoy in Paul Krugman’s work, but one of the lesser-appreciated aspects of his pieces is his willingness to take not-so-subtle shots at his own colleagues.

A few weeks ago, it was sly mockery of David Brooks. In Krugman’s print column today, it was someone else. See if you can read between the lines.

[L]et me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”

You see, admitting that one side is willing to make concessions, while the other isn’t, would tarnish one’s centrist credentials. And the result is that the G.O.P. pays no price for refusing to give an inch.

I can’t imagine who Krugman might be referring to. Oh wait, yes I can.

It reminds me of a Simpsons episode from way back in 1995.

Lisa became a vegetarian, which didn’t go over well at Springfield Elementary. Principal Skinner tells Lisa’s class, “A certain agitator — for privacy’s sake, let’s call her ‘Lisa S.’ No, that’s too obvious. Let’s say ‘L. Simpson’ — has raised questions about certain school policies.”

I keep expecting Krugman to write, “A certain pundit — for privacy’s sake, let’s call him, ‘Thomas F.’ No, that’s too obvious. Let’s say, ‘T. Friedman’….”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.