Within hours after Jared Loughner’s killing spree, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman went straight for the gutter, proclaiming, with no evidence whatsoever, that Loughner’s act was in all likelihood “political,” and going on to blame Republicans for the murders. I denounced Krugman’s vile blog post here.
We now know that Loughner’s murders were not political. He was deranged and had no coherent political philosophy. To the extent that he had any political beliefs at all, his friends describe him as left wing. He thought the Bush administration was behind the September 11 attacks. He has been more or less obsessed with Congresswoman Giffords since 2007, when he showed up at one of her events and asked something like, “What becomes of government when words have no meaning?” He was outraged that Giffords was unable to answer his question and, apparently, despised her from that point on. This, of course, was before the Tea Party movement existed and when Sarah Palin was the little-known governor of Alaska.
So Krugman’s vicious smear was completely unfounded. Nevertheless, true to form, he has not backed off, let alone apologized. Instead, in his latest column he doubled down, claiming even more explicitly that Republicans somehow caused Loughner’s murder spree, whether Loughner suspected it or not. As usual, Krugman’s column is poorly reasoned and lacking in any perceptible factual support. It’s just the wishful thinking of a rabid and hateful partisan. Others can take it apart line by line.
I want to focus on just one point. The most striking thing about Krugman’s rant is that he adduces one–one!–purported fact in support of the central thesis of his column:
The point is that there’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary. [Ed.: By resurrecting the fairness doctrine, for example? Apparently that’s not what he has in mind.]
And it’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence. [Ed.: Evidence for that statement? Don’t be silly–this is a Krugman column.]
Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.
That’s it, folks. Bachmann is the only Republican politician whom Krugman accuses of using “eliminationist rhetoric.” He apparently believes, and wants readers of the Times to believe, that Bachmann told Minnesota Republicans to arm themselves so they can go out and shoot Democrats. Isn’t that what is meant by “eliminationist rhetoric”?
Now, let’s just pause for a second. If Krugman really believed that, wouldn’t he give his readers a little more information? When did Bachmann tell Republicans they should take up arms and be dangerous to Democrats? What was the context? For that matter, what was the rest of the sentence? Here is a rule of thumb: any time a liberal quotes a fragment of a sentence, or, as in this case, a three-word phrase, a red flag should go up. When liberals quote sentence fragments, they are usually misleading when they aren’t out-and-out fabricated.
My guess is that Krugman has no idea when Michele referred to being “armed and dangerous,” or why, or what the rest of the sentence was. Krugman’s biggest problem isn’t that he is stupid. His biggest problem is that he is lazy. He is incapable of doing even the most rudimentary research, which is why his columns rarely contain many facts, and when they do, his “facts” are often wrong.
As it happens, I–unlike Krugman–know all about Michele’s “armed and dangerous” quote, because she said it in an interview with Brian Ward and me, on our radio show. It was on March 21, 2009. The subject was the Obama administration’s cap and trade proposal. Michele organized a couple of informational meetings in her district with an expert on global warming and cap and trade, and she came on our show to promote those meetings. She wanted her constituents to be armed with information on cap and trade so that they would understand how unnecessary, and how damaging to our economy, the Obama administration’s proposal was. That would make them dangerous to the administration’s left-wing plans.
The interview illustrates quite well the difference between Michele Bachmann and Paul Krugman. Krugman is a vicious hater. He rarely argues any issue on the merits, but prefers to smear those who disagree with him. Bachmann is infinitely better informed than Krugman. All she wants to do is debate her opponents on the facts. Unlike Krugman, she doesn’t hate anyone; her irrepressible good humor is considered a marvel by everyone who knows her.
Here is the interview in its entirety. You can judge for yourself whether it was likely to inspire anyone, let alone Jared Loughner, to an act of mass murder:
For the record, here is what Michele said: “I’m going to have materials for people when they leave. I want people armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back.” Yes, that’s right: she wanted Minnesotans to be armed with “materials”–facts and arguments–not guns. If this is the best example of “eliminationist rhetoric” that the far left can come up with, you can see how absurdly weak the claims of Krugman and his fellow haters are.
UPDATE: A reader with a sense of humor offers tongue-in-cheek congratulations:
Perfect!!…just great!….got him good….I especially like the part where you throw him to the ground, mercilessly stomp on him a few times and then, for good measure, kick him in the head!
To poor dumb Paul K.: It’s a joke!! Don’t worry! We aren’t really going to beat you up. This is what is commonly known as a “metaphor.”