In Tucson Shooting Fallout, Rightbloggers Find a New Public Enemy #1: Paul Krugman

tomt200.jpgIf you've quit paying attention to the Tucson shooting case, first of all, congratulations. Here is what you've missed: The nearly-assassinated Democratic Congresswoman is getting better, and the public discussion of her shooting is getting worse.

There's just too much nonsense being circulated to cover here, so we'll focus on a relatively narrow but instructive development: How rightbloggers have promoted to their primary object of hatred -- above even the despised Obama, at least for the moment -- mild-mannered economist Paul Krugman.

It's not that rightbloggers ever liked the Nobel-winning author. But particularly since his January 9th New York Times column, "Climate of Hate," he's become their new History's Greatest Monster.

Krugman's column suggested a connection between the new rightwing tradition of talking about killing one's political opponents -- see here for some hair-raising examples -- and the Tucson shootings. "There has, in fact, been a rising tide of threats and vandalism aimed at elected officials, including both Judge John Roll, who was killed Saturday, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords," wrote Krugman. "One of these days, someone was bound to take it to the next level. And now someone has."

Krugman mentioned Michelle Bachman's "armed and dangerous" comments which, readers of last week's column may recall, were elsewhere defended as relatively harmless, even though Bachmann had also said that "Thomas Jefferson told us, 'Having a revolution every now and then is a good thing.' And we the people are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country," which could be taken as an invitation to armed resistance.

Still, Krugman's was not the most tightly-reasoned column ever written, and could have been challenged with a reasonable rebuttal. But rightbloggers were unable to muster a reasonable anything. Their responses were mainly insults, dudgeon, and bullshit.

Look at him! Doesn't he just seethe liberal fascism?
"Paul Krugman Is an Idiot," said Going to the Mat. "Krugman is an Asshole," said Crazy Conservative. "Paul Krugman is a bald faced liar!," said SBVOR ("Click the image of the lying bastard & read the rest"), etc.

"Paul Krugman, Buffoon," said Power Line's John Hinderaker. Hinderaker claimed that "we now know that Loughner's murders were not political" (though he felt compelled to add that the assassin's "friends describe him as left wing").

Hinderaker also defended Bachmann's comments, insisting they didn't mean what Krugman said they meant -- "when liberals quote sentence fragments," he informed readers, "they are usually misleading when they aren't out-and-out fabricated." Unsurprisingly Hinderaker's Bachmann fragments did not include the bit about a new American revolution. Also, he said Krugman is "a vicious hater," "incapable of doing even the most rudimentary research," "Bachmann is infinitely better informed than Krugman," etc. How Krugman ever won that so-called Nobel Prize, John Hinderaker will never know.

"Krugman knows that people such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are not racists, bigots or purveyors of hate," wrote Desert Conservative. "Yet, he writes just the opposite." Desert Conservative didn't say how he knew this about Krugman's state of mind; maybe he tapped Krugman's phone. (Previously DC wrote, "TUCSON SHOOTER CLOSER TO KRUGMAN THAN TEA PARTY OR CONSERVATIVE GROUPS.")

At the close of one of his columns, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer rather paroxysmally accused Krugman of psychological problems ("The origins of Loughner's delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman's?"). Krauthammer, a trained psychiatrist, has been doing this sort of thing for years; sometimes he also complains about other people who casually impute mental illness to politicians. (You have to admire his nerve, if nothing else about him.)

Weirdly, the accusation of madness was one of only two brief references Krauthammer made to Krugman. Doesn't matter -- Krauthammer's quick slur was cheered by rightbloggers as if it were a speech by Edmund Burke.

"Krauthammer KO's Krugman and the Times," said Verum Serum. "Krauthammer takes the wood to Krugman," said Planet Utah.

"A devastating knockout of the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman," cried Peter Wehner of Commentary. Wehner's colleague John Steele Gordon added that Krugman was "intellectually lazy" and "intellectually dishonest," and even called him "the Joe McCarthy of our times," echoing William Kristol -- which probably confused both Commentary's and Kristol's readers, as most of them probably think McCarthy was a great American hero.

Some sort of prize should go to Matthew Sheffield, who at the Washington Examiner literally compared Krugman to Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church (of "God Hates Fags" fame). Unnamed liberals who say "conservatives and libertarians bear at least some responsibility for creating a 'climate of hate,'" Sheffield explained, are just like Phelps, who believes that "God literally hates people who engage in homosexual conduct."

Um, how? Maybe because Sheffield disagrees with both assertions -- we had a hard time parsing his argument, even after he sought to strengthen it by comparing Phelps' statements with Krugman's. Here's an example:

KRUGMAN: When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?

PHELPS: God appointed the Afghanistan veteran to avenge himself on this evil nation.

Sheffield also wrote, "Read any random left-wing website and you'll see countless rants about how Democrats need to be more like Alan Grayson," without giving any examples and in contradiction to the results of a simple Google search, which shows rightbloggers far more obsessed with Grayson than liberals. Maybe literal meaning is actually beside the point, and Sheffield's whole column is meant as a new type of surrealist prose-poetry.

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