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January 17, 2011


Brendan says Krauthammer "accuses Krugman of mental illness." That's a pretty strained reading of what Krauthammer actually wrote: "The origins of Loughner's delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman's?"

That falls very far short of an accusation that Krugman is mentally ill. A more reasonable interpretation of Krauthammer's statement is that Krugman is not mentally ill but is instead motivated by something else.

What other than mental illness could motivate Krugman to make false accusations about Palin and conservatives? Hmm, maybe extreme partisanship, or cynical opportunism, or a determination to perceive facts in a way that is consistent with his preconceptions or ideology. Sounds like Krugman to me--not mentally ill, just a hyper-partisan cynical spindoctor.

Evidence and theory both support Palin's contention that accusations linking her to the Tucson murders incited violence. The evidence is that these accusations led to an increase in death threats against her. The saddest of these was made by a wounded victim of last week's Arizona shooting rampage. He was arrested and ordered to undergo a mental evaluation after he threatened a Tea Party leader during the taping of a television show.

We should have expected the increase in death threats. Of course it's inflammatory to be told by supposedly responsible sources that a national leader is essentially a mass murderer.

I thought Blow's column was excellent. Like Palin, he pointed out that the accusations against Palin and the Tea Parties were not only false, but reprehensible. He correctly noted that these foul accusations undermined the moral standing of liberals. And, he presented statistical evidence that this was the case.

Alright, maybe it should have said "suggests" Krugman is mentally ill. Regardless, I don't think a psychiatrist should be throwing around this sort of terminology.

Rob beat me to it, but it looks like your disdain for Krauthammer got the better of you this time Brendan and you missed the obvious point of CK's piece, in which he is sarcastically asking "So what's Krugman's excuse?"

Krugman's "mental illness" has predecessors. According to Yglesias, some critics of Bill Clinton suffered from Clinton Derangement Syndrome (CDS). This syndrome consisted of the belief in fantastic theories, such as Vince Foster's "murder", his supposed involvement in the supposed drug trafficing through Mena, etc.

This was followed by Bush Derangement Syndrome, a term that was coined by Krauthammer. Preposterous beliefs about Bush included his supposed involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Interestingly, that term was used by Krugman in a New York Times column.

Given that history, it's not surprising that there are now outbreaks of ODS, PDS and TPDS. However, things are worse in one way. CDS and BDS mostly afflicted far-out media and politicians. Sufferers of PSD and TPSD include the New York Times, National Public Radio and other respectible, mainstream organs.

Jon Chait wrote: Palin didn't ask to be part of this story. But she did choose how to respond to it. Imagine if Palin had come out and said, "My initial response was to defend the fact that I had never condoned such violence, and never would. But the fact is, if I in any way contributed to an unhealthy political climate, I have to be more careful and deliberate in my public language rather than merely sharpen my defenses." That would've been leadership: It would have made her critics look small, and it would've made her look big.

All the evidence says that the political climate played no role in this tragedy. Palin has nothing to apologize for.

Every politician and pundit contributes to the politcal climate, in ways that are often thought wrong by those on the other side. E.g., Chait, Brendan Nyhan, and Barack Obama have all contributed to the political climate. Has Chait used his own formula to write in his column: "I have never condoned such violence, and never would. But the fact is, if I in any way contributed to an unhealthy political climate, I have to be more careful and deliberate in my public language rather than merely sharpen my defenses." Has Brendan made such an apology? Has the President? Of course not. One doesn't apologize when one is blameless.

The people who should apologize are the ones who perpetrated the dishonest smears: the Times Editors, Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, Chris Matthews, etc. Chait ought to have called on those people to apologize.

Incidentally, the Times Public Editor whitewashed his newspaper's smears in a column today.
Ed Morissey wrote an amusing takedown of the Public Editor's column.

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