Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Krugman's credibility: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm not going to do a complete deconstruction of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest column -- because there's nothing really new in it. When I finally get a syndicated column, I hope that I'll be able to get paid recycling the same thing over and over. (Note to representatives of any of the major syndicates: I'm kidding.)
[S]o it seems that Turkey wasn't really haggling about the price, it just wouldn't accept payment by check or credit card. In return for support of an Iraq invasion, Turkey wanted ? and got ? immediate aid, cash on the barrelhead, rather than mere assurances about future help. You'd almost think President Bush had a credibility problem.
Here's the story on Turkey. Isn't it amazing how Krugman can make a success (i.e. getting Turkey to settle for a $26 billion aid package instead of $32 billion) seem like a sign of Bush's failure. I suspect that if Bush were somehow able to ensure that every corporate crook spent 20 years at hard labor Krugman would use it as an example of how even his largest campaign contributors couldn't "trust" Bush.
And he does.
The funny thing is that this administration sets great store by credibility. As the justifications for invading Iraq come and go -- Saddam is developing nuclear weapons; no, but he's in league with Osama; no, but he's really evil -- the case for war has come increasingly to rest on credibility. You see, say the hawks, we've already put our soldiers in position, so we must attack or the world won't take us seriously.
But credibility isn't just about punishing people who cross you. It's also about honoring promises, and telling the truth. And those are areas where the Bush administration has problems.
The justifications for invading Iraq have not come and gone. Krugman, surely, is intelligent enough to realize that each argument does not invalidate a different one. Paul -- they're all true. Saddam seeks to develop nuclear weapons. Hussein and bin Laden both hate the U.S. -- and would do whatever they can to attack us. And, yes, Saddam Hussein is really evil.
Consider the astonishing fact that Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, appears unwilling to cast his U.N. Security Council vote in America's favor. Given Mexico's close economic ties to the United States, and Mr. Fox's onetime personal relationship with Mr. Bush, Mexico should have been more or less automatically in America's column. But the Mexican president feels betrayed. He took the politically risky step of aligning himself closely with Mr. Bush ? a boost to Republican efforts to woo Hispanic voters -- in return for promised reforms that would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants. The administration never acted on those reforms, and Mr. Fox is in no mood to do Mr. Bush any more favors.
Umm....lessee here. What event happened in between the plan to deal with illegal immigrants (undocumented is the PC term), and Bush backing away from the plan. One hint: It happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
Surely Krugman can see the problems that would be involved with legalizing the status of millions of people who are illegally in the country -- especially when some small percentage of them are surely terrorists intent on killing as many Americans as possible. Well, Krugman could see it if he was interested in something other than partisan politics.