This morning, I read this - and then I read this Krugman post. I believe they're related. Our official intellectual publications take great pains to feature the opinions of Serious Manly Men, and by that I mean those who understand how important it is to impose pain via bombs on brown people in faraway lands. (And, of course, the women who parrot them.) Krugman rejected that path to power, and thus was scorned by the establishment -even as his popularity among ordinary people grew.
So Paul, The Shrill One, you scifi-loving, cat-petting geek, here's to you and intellectual honesty:
Early on in my tenure at the Times, I felt I had no choice but to point out the inconvenient truth that the official line of the commentariat was all wrong. George W. Bush was not a nice, blunt, honest guy who happened to be a conservative; he was a serial liar pursuing a hard-line agenda, who among other things deliberately misled America into war.
For this I was labeled “shrill”.
More than that: throughout these past ten-plus years, it has been considered ill-mannered and uncouth, not to mention unacceptably partisan, to suggest that the parties aren’t symmetric — that, for example, the reluctance of Democrats to cut Social Security and Medicare is not equivalent to the GOP’s consistent pursuit of huge unfunded tax cuts, that the occasional desire of Democrats to put evidence in a more favorable light is not equivalent to the constant, raw dishonesty emanating from the right. And pundits in good standing have been expected to make calls for bipartisanship that involve pretending that Republican politicians are actually the kind of statesmen the party used to contain, but no longer does.
So now we see a primary struggle in which the choice is between a series of not-Romneys whose political and policy views are stark raving mad, on one side, and the not-not-Romney who is, maybe, just pretending to share those views. How did that happen?
The answer, as Brad suggests, is that it happened a long time ago. The GOP isn’t just spectacularly unlucky in its menu of candidates; this is what the party has been for decades. Rick Santorum isn’t someone out of left field; he’s always been what you see now, and he was a central figure in his Senate days.
All that has happened now is that the mannerisms have finally gotten to the point that the pretense of a reasonable party is no longer sustainable.
But you weren’t supposed to notice until just about now.