Pulling No Punches

I was recently visiting with my grandmother, who is an avid consumer of political news. She watches Ed Schultz and other MSNBC shows, reads some political blogs (mostly what I link to), and is highly frustrated by the lack of progress on the economy and the continued beating Democrats are taking at the hands of Republicans. One question she asked me was, “Does President Obama read Paul Krugman’s column?” While I assume Krugman’s pieces are in the daily news clips the President receives, I can’t state with any certainty that Krugman’s increasingly critical columns are really on the President’s radar.

But pieces like Krugman’s column today must surely set off alarm bells in the White House. The NY Times columnist pulls no punches, taking on the President’s decision to freeze the pay of federal workers and extent an olive branch to Republicans, which they return by pledging not to let anything move in the Senate until taxes are voted on (last night they subsequently blocked even tax cuts from moving forward). Krugman writes:

It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure — that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right.

Krugman might be describing these things in his column, but the Republicans in Congress are doing it out in public, through the legislative process. So while there is inevitably going to be frustration at the public criticism Krugman is leveling against the President, it’s just words in a column. The real offense comes from Republicans, who will continue to treat this administration and the legislative priorities of Congress – priorities which are driven by the needs of a country in economic crisis.

I would hope that people in the administration put this in front of the President. I would hope it makes him mad. But I hope that his anger gets directed at the real target, Republicans, and not at Krugman, who is merely holding up a mirror to the administration.

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