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Krugman Dips His Toes in This Thing of Ours

NYT columnist praises Beinart, refers to Israeli ‘national suicide’

Marc Tracy
April 25, 2012
Paul Krugman.(PEN American Center/Flickr)
Paul Krugman.(PEN American Center/Flickr)

Paul Krugman must have known that his brief post endorsing Peter Beinart’s “brave” book The Crisis of Zionism would get plenty of negative attention: that’s the whole point of calling Beinart brave. And, duly, it has. (Here is an exemplary negative response.)

I think it’s clear what Krugman was trying to do: lend his credibility to somebody he agree with who, he believed, is getting unfairly attacked. But Krugman has the biggest platform of any writer on the planet: why not take the time and devote a well-reasoned column to it? He might have conveyed exactly what he was trying to say, only at greater length and with more eloquence. Whereas even if he does this now, it’s going to be tainted by his far too casual, tossed-off blog post.

And I’d bet Krugman has something interesting to say. He’s both a smarter and more heterodox thinker than the right gives him credit for. His paper trail on Israel is quite thin (“I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going,” as he admits, more in sorrow than in laziness), but, like most of the top economists in the United States, he is connected to the brilliant (and left-wing) Israeli central banker Stanley Fischer. In 2010, he called Israel’s economy one of the rare “happy stories” in the midst of global recession. Naturally, being a doctrinaire tax-and-spend liberal Nobel-winning economist, he recommended more government spending argued, “The case for fiscal stimulus is not necessary.”

The Crisis of Zionism [NYT The Conscience of a Liberal]
The Bravery of Beinart, and Krugman [Jewish Journal]

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.