Donald Luskin, an alleged economics writer for National Review Online, is so obsessed with Paul Krugman that he recently bashed my friend Brendan in his blog because Brendan dared to defend the New York Times columnist against allegations he's a partisan hack. Brendan responded here, but I have a few thoughts of my own. Less rational and less polite than Brendan.
It started with a post of Brendan's where he got peeved at ABC's The Note for calling Krugman "Pauly One-Note." Brendan thinks this is another example of the elite press dismissing the writing of Krguman and others like him as "partisan hackery" because he bashes Bush consistently. Now, I think Brendan may be reading a bit too much into this. Much as I dislike the Note (and was thrilled to get an excuse to stop reading it once Spinsanity ended) and admire Krugman, I think it's fair to read the Note as just pointing out in an obnoxious way that Krugman can be "one note." That doesn't necessairly mean his work is hackery.
But Brendan's larger point -- that so many in the media who can't seem to get the details of the issues Krugman wrestles with like Social Security privatization right feel free to dismiss the work of someone who hits a point over and over -- is both reasonable and accurate.
Luskin responded not by critiquing Brendan's logic, but by casting aspersions on his sources and calling him names. Very classy. Brendan, of course, made short work of Luskin's faulty logic and I have little to add. But I have plenty to say about the personal attacks.
Luskin says Brendan of doesn't have "the slightest shred of eminence." Hmmm, let's see. Brendan co-wrote (with me) a New York Times best selling book that analyzed dishonesty from politicians and the press. Donald Luskin writes a blog and professional column about economics that gets its facts hilariously wrong. Who exactly has eminence?
Most offensively, Luskin calls Brendan a "pretentious leftist twerp." This from a man who regularly accuses Paul Krugman of being shrill. Of course, Brendan's blog reveals him to be unpretentious, since he always links to his sources and only writes about things he knows about. He's only a "leftist" in the sense that he's regularly critical of dishonesty and poor reasoning from the right (as well as the left). As for twerp, I don't know if Luskin's ever met him, but the guy's like 6'1" and works out pretty regularly. I am quite confident he could make Donald Luskin beg for his mommy in two minutes flat.
Brendan is too kind to say it, but I will. Donald Luskin is petty, immature, ignorant, and obnoxious. The correct word for a man like him is "hack."
One more piece of evidence. This has nothing to do with Brendan, but it's really my favorite part of all this. Luskin writes that "Paul Krugman is Pauly One-Note -- and with a vengeance." Ummmm, Donald Luskin's website links to a store with 19 items (clothing, mugs, etc.) that feature a drawing of Paul Krugman nobody would recognize with a slash through it and the words "Krugman Truth Squad." This is like John Hinckley calling someone who owns several DVDs of Jodie Foster movies a freak.