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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, March 13, 2003



Calm And Sensible As Ever

Paul Krugman exhibits his flair for understatement yet again. But despite his low key demeanor, I expect he will attract attention with his latest column, which includes this keeper:

...more people than you would think — including a fair number of people in the Treasury Department, the State Department and, yes, the Pentagon — don't just question the competence of Mr. Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership has lost touch with reality.

Lacking a degree in psychology, I feel ill-equipped to comment. However, if forced to express an opinion, I imagine I would smile agreeably and back away slowly while murmuring, in my most soothing tone, "Lost touch with reality... No doubt about it, Professor, none at all."

And while we are attempting to maintain contact with reality, if anyone can show me a link documenting Krugman's assertion that " British public opinion is now virulently anti-Bush", I would be thrilled. But please don't bore me with the Pew Research Center report from last December showing that 75% of Brits have a favorable view of the US. One can be pro-American and anti-Bush, as our many lefty friends rightly observe.

And the MORI poll showing that 75% of Brits would support a war with UN backing is hardly dispositive either - one can be pro-war and anti-Bush, as folks like Mark Kleiman demonstrate. And yes, the MORI poll shows that a mere 23% of Brits approve of the way Bush is handling Iraq, versus a robust 36% approval for Blair. Room for improvement, granted, but "virulent"? If the Brits are "bitterly hostile or antagonistic; hateful", then why would a little UN vote swing them to 75% support for a Bush-led war? Where is the constancy? Or, put another way, I do not fully support the way this has been handled, but I am not virulently anti-Bush.

No, I am sure there is a solid source for that factoid, but I need help nailing it down.

UPDATE: Hold the phone, and pass the meds! Over in his comments, Atrios assures me that "plenty in state and pentagon are on record, and krugman surely knows people in treasury."

I am sure he does, so I am hoping for just a couple of examples from State and the Pentagon of folks who think the Administration has lost touch with reality. If I have put my foot in my mouth, then a tasty follow-up will be a serving of humble pie. Bring it on!

MORE: A lot of pro-Krugman sentiment amongs the Atrios commenters, but no humble pie yet. One reader makes an excellent suggestion - Krugman has written many times on the causes of depression, so shouldn't we accept him as an authority in the field of mental health? Great point, but sorry, Hamletta, it is not to be.

FINAL UPDATE: Ah, those fickle Brits. Poor Professor K surely did not foresee this poll result, which came out after his column was published:

Surprisingly the poll also shows quite good ratings for George Bush with 53% of voters saying they have confidence in him to make the right decisions on Iraq, while 43% have no confidence in him.

Still, the question is narrowly drawn and focusses on the prospect of war with Iraq. Perhaps British public opinion is virulently anti-Bush on the matter of the dividend tax exemption, or his phony budget numbers, or his position on affirmative action. One wonders.


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