Sunday, December 23, 2007

Is Paul Krugman really "brilliant?"

In a recent Newsweek "net exclusive" the politically liberal Jonathan Alter begins his column by telling readers:

Paul Krugman is a brilliant Princeton economist and fine columnist for The New York Times who was far ahead of the pack in asserting that George W. Bush is a total disaster as president
And that isn't all.
In the next sentence, Alter assures readers:
[Frugman's] clarity in explaining what academics call "political economy" is without peer.

If Alter had stopped there, I might have believe he thinks Krugman is brilliant.

But in the very next sentence Alter says of his fellow liberal and passionate Bush-hater Krugman:

But his attack on Barack Obama on December 17 was wrong on history, wrong on politics and wrong on what the future holds for Obama's "big table" idea.
Woah, Nelly!

If a Princeton professor and NYT columnist is wrong on history, politics and "what the future holds for Obama's 'big table' ideas," how can he be brilliant?

It's a little like believing it was a brilliant politican who said, "I never, ever had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," before the DNA study revealed it was his seman which stained her dress.

Go figure.

Alter's entire column is here.


Bill Anderson said...

Paul Krugman is a fraud, pure and simple, at least when it comes to being an economist. By the way, at a session in November, 2004, at the Southern Economic Association meetings in New Orleans, I asked Krugman (publicly, so the other economists heard me as well as his answer) that since he was critical of Congress cutting tax rates, if he would support going back to the top rates of 70 percent, which existed before 1981.

Krugman replied to me that those rates were "insane." How much do you want to bet that he does NOT tell his collegiate audiences the same thing.

The guy is NOT an economist. He is a political operative and nothing more.

great unknown said...

Brilliance is in the eyes of the beholder: relative to Alter, Krugman may indeed be brilliant.
Relative to Alter, Krugman may be even be intellectually honest.

kaz said...

Same old, same old.

Brilliant depends on who's ox is being gored. Since both have advanced cases of BDS, Alter is willing to treat anything bad Krugman says about Bush as awesomely intelligent and profound. But when it's "intramural", he'll declare Krugman dense if he badmouths his candidate's ideas.

Nothing new here. Move along.

Anonymous said...

I want to comment on Dr. Krugman specifically and the overuse of the term brilliant in general.First,CS Lewis-trained as a philologist stated the current meaning of the word 'gentleman' was actually"someone I like";i.e.,"He has a rough tongue,but he is a gentleman."From GWTW;Mrs. Wilkes characterization of Gerald O' Hara.I think the use of brilliant for Dr. Krugman is similar.I'm not competent to judge his work,but he sure gets caught in a lot of dishonsties.(There's an economist (Donald Luskin) who delights in exposing Krugman.People who prattle about Dr. Krugman's brilliance,without understanding his work/field,simply like what he's saying
Similarly,grade inflation has corrupted the term "brilliance"Hillary Clinton has done nothing in law or politics to gain a reputation for briliance.And,herUG degree was a Liberal Arts at a Seven Sisters (Wellesley) in the mid 60's.Big Deal.
Look,anyone with a Bachelor's in Physics from Anyschool USA is demonstrably SMART.And thios isn't brilliant.Brilliant people generally don't flunk the Bar.
Just my opinion

Bill Anderson said...

I would second that point. Look, Paul Krugman cannot even get past the simple but vital building block in economics: opportunity cost. The guy constantly tells us that government can do away with opportunity cost (and the Law of Scarcity) simply by employing True Believers in the State.

I am not kidding. Read his columns. He is not an economist; he is a political operative and nothing else.

Ralph Phelan said...

Why are you still wasting your time reading Newsweek?

Observer said...

From my perspective Paul Krugman is the most repetitive, least able opinion page columnist at the NYT. "Brilliant" is not a word I would ever use to describe his columns.