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March 31, 2009

Huge Opposition

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Any thoughts on Newsweek’s take on Krugman? Is their a holier-than-thou vibe here, between the intense stare and the scarf reading like a priest’s stole? Is the composition a form of overkill, hammering home Krugman as a “leftist.” Is there another instinct here to imply his take is incomplete, not put together or only half the story?

(image: still looking)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p010536f3e344970c creditking

    Can we say left brain versus right brain in terms of Mr. Krugman’s analysis? Since the image is of the right half of his face, do these traits apply to his approach: “intuitive” “subjective” “looks at wholes as opposed to parts” – just some of the traits associated with “right brain thinking.

  • Cyranetta

    What’s odd is that, even though Krugman’s picture is on the left of the picture only if you take if from the actor’s perspective (“stage left”)and the left side of Krugman’s face is hidden, what is on the left from the audience’s perspective is the caption, which oddly seems to be whispering “Obama is Wrong” in his ear, denying Krugman an active voice. For those reasons I find the image oddly self-contradictory, almost implying brainwashing, which anyone who has seen Krugman interviewed could hardly credit.

  • bystander

    From the stare and the up-close head shot, I get intensity. And, Krugman has been intense for at least the past 8+ years. From the scarf, I get academic not religious… but, maybe that’s because I studied Krugman all through graduate school. [Although, some could argue that graduate school is a form of religious training.]
    I didn’t think that Krugman could get more intense than he’d been during the Bush years. Yet, he’s been just as intense regarding the relative sizes of the bailout and the stimulus. Krugman had high hopes for progressive opportunities and probably suffers from the same disappointment as many others for what the current economic crisis has likely done to those opportunities.
    The funny thing is, all those years of reading him and studying his work, I wouldn’t have automatically characterized Krugman as any kind of populist hero. He is a classically trained neo-classical economist. That ain’t Marx by a long shot. It ain’t even Left in any genuine meaning of the word. For Krugman to be labeled loyal opposition is an indication of just how far the Overton Window has been dragged to the right.

  • bystander
  • sophronia

    I suspect the right half of his face is there for compositional purposes. I do wonder if that is his actual right side; they might have flipped it. The text, “Obama is wrong” is meant to grab you. And it does, doesn’t it?

  • Gasho

    Krugman has been so steady and strong – winning the Nobel doesn’t hurt – and this closer than closeup with such a simple, but unmistakable phrase puts this cover right in Obama’s face. If he’s a Lincoln-esque character who’s willing to put opposition on his cabinet, then Krugman is IN.

  • tribulationperiwinkle

    The real loyal opposition is coming from informed liberal progressives, not Republicans. This in your face semi-reveal cover is formally acknowledging that the Democratic party apparatus is distinct from the liberal left. Republicans are but a noisy, but impotent, extremist and traitorous faction, more closely aligned with fringe movements than mainstream political discourse.
    Now that’s real change.

  • gnarlytrombone

    Hmmmmm.
    [Big fan of Krug. Wish he hadn't agreed to this, though]

  • lytom

    Krugman is serious, it is no time to be silent. The dread of the consequences of policy favoring little change, lot of investment in war in Afghanistan point in one direction…no significant change in the course running with the Wall.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e54ee0fb218834 thebewilderness

    It isn’t up to the standard of photoshopdisaster, but they did a bad thing there to the place where his ear and hair usually come together in a perfectly human manner.
    I agree that they continue to position the political center far to the right.
    This cover may be an inside joke for those who promoted the idea of him as “the shrill one” and very far to the left, for all those years.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e54ee0fb218834 thebewilderness

    The other thing I find interesting about this is that Krugman has made it quite clear that the people President Obama is depending on for economic advice are wrong, and in fact have been wrong about almost everything for a long time.
    With those simple words in the caption they have framed the dispute as political, not economic, personal, not policy, and best of all, not about anyone else, like, ahem, themselves.

  • bystander

    That’s truly insightful. Thank you.

  • http://etchasketchist.blogspot.com Etchasketchist

    Is this not the same composition that Palin was whining about? You can see his pores and his facial hair! Oh noes.

  • http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=19249 yg

    take note, fame hungry leftists. the only way to gain national prominence is to tear obama apart. nevermind that doing so puts at risk the chance to advance a progressive agenda.
    from balloonjuice:

    Krugman will simply weaken the actual left by giving cover for the Blue Dogs. it doesn’t matter if Krugman is attacking from the left or from the right, he gives credence to the idea that “even the left thinks Obama is wrong.”
    Krugman seems more and more like an ideologue who has no clue about how politics works and doesn’t care.
    when it’s perfect vs good, nobody wins.

    CNN’s “Your Money” segment earlier today featured them reading two paragraphs of Krugman trashing the bank plan and then spent the next five minutes letting wingnut WSJ economist Stephen Moore trash the plan. This is working out well.
    And might I point out that after we all have trashed the President from every angle, the American people aren’t going to say to themselves “the socialist black muslim guy kind of sucked, let’s give Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold a shot.” Not going to happen. Standing in the on-deck circle are Mr. Sanford, Mittens, and the Wasilla wingnut.

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=19249

  • yg

    the people President Obama is depending on for economic advice are wrong, and in fact have been wrong about almost everything for a long time.
    i grant you that about summers, but geithner warned about the dangers of credit default swaps as early as 2004. when did krugman start warning about derivatives? funny how newsweek failed to give specifics on that matter.

  • yg

    in other words, krugman washes his hands of responsibility in how media spins his objections.

  • yg

    roubini warned about the housing bubble in 2006. he gets all kinds of credit for that. yet for some reason geithner doesn’t get any credit for having been prescient and having an instinct for reform.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e54ee0fb218834 thebewilderness

    Are you seriously taking the position that anyone who states their opinion is responsible for the way the corporate media uses it to forward their agenda?
    “Krugman seems more and more like an ideologue who has no clue about how politics works and doesn’t care.”
    Shocking that an economist would go around voicing their opinion on the economy. That’s what got him tagged “shrill” by the the corporate media, in the Economist, back in 2002.
    Somebody needs to invest in a dictionary, because that word, ideologue, I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • bystander

    Glenn Greenwald characterizes you really well,

    People love now to assume the role of super-sophisticated political consultant rather than a citizen demanding actions from their representatives. Due to the prism of gamesmanship through which political pundits understand and discuss politics, many citizens have learned to talk about their political leaders as though they’re political strategists advising their clients as to the politically shrewd steps that should be taken [...], rather than as citizens demanding that their public servants do the right thing [...]. [emphasis mine]

    Krugman is a citizen. He’s a citizen with a particular expertise, and a great big megaphone. He is not part of the Obama administration and owes Obama no particular level of loyalty. Krugman does not seek to be in Obama’s administration (all the better for those who trust him to be completely honest in his assessment), he has said of himself he lacks the temperament for it. One of the great contributions of economics is the notion of comparative advantage. Nice that Krugman applies it to himself.
    And, yes, I’ve read through John Cole’s temper tantrums. That excerpt from Greenwald applies really well to Cole, too.

  • yg

    Shocking that an economist would go around voicing their opinion on the economy.
    but krugman doesn’t just restrict his opinions only to economics. he offers up opinions about the legislation process (something he lacks first hand knowledge of), public relations expectations, assigns motivations to obama and others without citing a source or having anything based on fact, and other areas where he lacks a nobel award winning expertise.
    i thought this cut from the newsweek interesting:

    Krugman points to the example of Sweden, which nationalized its banks in the 1990s. But Sweden is tiny. The United States, with 8,000 banks, has a vastly more complex financial system. What’s more, the federal government does not have anywhere near the manpower or resources to take over the banking system.
    Krugman swats away these arguments, though he acknowledges he’s not a “detail” man.

    what does that mean, he’s not a “detail” man? he’s throwing potshots at geithner wihtout knowing all the details of his plan? another way of reading this is that krugman is not willing to accept responsibility for the consequence of his criticisms. he can’t be bothered. that’s being ideological.
    another cut from the article:

    He [krugman] believes he is fighting a philosophical battle against the plutocrats and money-changers. Although he thinks Geithner has been captured by Wall Street, he has hope for Summers.

    he has hopes for summers?? summers is who wall street wanted most. first of all, summers originally supported the repeal of glass-steagall, the type of deregulation of finance that lead us to where we are now. i’ve never heard summers regret doing so. i’ve never heard summers voice the dangers of credit default swaps like geithner has. he took steps to try to reign them in when he was working in federal reserve bank in new york. giethner has been more of a reformer than larry summers.

  • paulo

    Krugman certainly has a “j’accuse” vibe going in this photo and the simple caption makes that obvious. The scarf is interesting in a tallis sort of way (but then I was raised Catholic and people with cloths wrapped around their necks indoors scare the bejeezus out of me).
    The one intense eye framing sort of brings in a wrath of God warning on Obama should he fail. And I suppose it all plays on the Nobel prize as being a godlike sort of award – like the MacArthur “genius grant” for the hard sciences (and of course literature)
    But as himself Krugman acknowledges (to paraphrase) being on the cover of News Week means he’s toast as a force to be reckoned with.

  • yg

    Are you seriously taking the position that anyone who states their opinion is responsible for the way the corporate media uses it to forward their agenda?
    a conscientious pundit would point out how his or her words are being misused if media is using them opportunistically. a responsible pundit would do that. krugman can’t be bothered.

  • yg

    it’s the holy trifecta. did you miss the al giordano analysis? greenwald, jane hamsher and krugman can be counted upon to launch a free for all obama bashing at a drop of a hat. some people can’t get over the primary.

  • yg

    many citizens have learned to talk about their political leaders as though they’re political strategists advising their clients as to the politically shrewd steps that should be taken
    how funny, this is what krugman did with obama during the stimulus debate.
    bystander, i’m suprised at you. i didn’t know you did crystal ball readings.

  • yg

    John Cole’s temper tantrums
    resorting to ad hominems, i see.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e54ee0fb218834 thebewilderness

    I’m sorry, but this is getting silly.
    I actually have an opinion or two on the legislative process myself. However do you manage to restrict yourself in such an extraordinary manner.

  • yg

    your opinions are not given extra weight when you’re opining about topic x because you’ve won a nobel in a separate arena. too many people blur his areas of expertise. e.g. “krugman must know what he’s talking about when he assigns motive about what obama or geithner are thinking or are planning to do because he’s won a nobel.”
    but don’t blame him. he’s not a “detail” man.

  • Paula

    yg, I take the “trifecta” as you call it with a grain of salt too, though I would attribute a lot of what they do to self-promotion rather than knee-jerk anti-obamaism. At the end of the day, they have a hard time deciding who they are: journalists committed to fact-finding and reporting or pundits who want to move the frame of political conversation. Mostly, it’s a mix of the two. And it makes it difficult to argue because on the one hand, they write about “meetings” and “press conferences” and “phrases” and on the other use them to “predict” and/or recommend tactics and policy that can be seen as ideological rather than practical. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong. Also, they sometimes don’t care that “tactics” and “policy” are two different things.
    Al Giordano I would also take with a grain of salt, as he has little interest in commenting on politics OR punditry unless it deals directly with getting a concrete popular movement in place. He’s interested in creating and/or guiding a sense of collective involvement in civic space, so I’m willing to bet that to him a lot of these alt-pundits act like gatekeepers right along with the MSM (and he would be right). But his motivations are not journalistic either.
    Krugman is not a journalist, so he does not bear the full brunt of responsibility for using simplified views of those who oppose him. But he is an academic and an economist, so one would be right to expect him to WANT and TRY to be clear about the nuances and how they relate to his contrarian view, because academics who want to be intellectually honest about debate do this. However, Newsweek bears the full responsibility for not even trying to research and explain the nuance of Krugman’s, or Geithner’s, positions in a matter as complex as this. THAT’S journalism. And it’s the lack of it that’s killing discourse in this country.
    (This, NOT Wall St. greed or bonuses, was the heart of Jon Stewart’s skewering of MSNBC and Cramer. People are people, and so will do bad things, but the whole point of the 4th estate is to watch out for the regular folks so that they don’t get taken in my asshats in power, whether they be Bush or Obama, or Summers or Krugman.)

  • Paula

    Full disclosure: I tend to compare all these political bloggers to Juan Cole, who strikes me as the kind of guy who calls it as a he sees it and tries to make it clear when he’s being a commentator and when he’s being a journalist. Too bad I haven’t been able to find an equivalent in re full-throttle domestic policy analysis.
    Another full disclosure: I really wish Greenwald would stick to civil liberties because that’s what he actually knows. Lay off the commentary about political gamesmanship. Check his post on “‘liberals vs Obama’” — talk about jumping the shark.

  • Paula

    Crap: I also didn’t mean to imply that ALL Hamsher, et al want is the “promote themselves”. I think everyone in the public eye tends to do that to an extent, and it’s not mutually exclusive of wanting to contribute to the public good. It’s that because they want to “scoop” people in the sense of wanting to be on the forefront of the voices who are critical of anyone in power that they often don’t think about the inconsistencies of their commentary.

  • travc

    Gee, I must be tuned to a completely different wavelength on this one.
    Intense and serious. The extreme closeup revealing lack of ‘perfection’ in appearance reinforces the seriousness…
    To me the photo pretty much screams “this is not politics”.

  • http://poorimpulsecontrol.net/blog tata

    I don’t see this mentioned upthread: the parted lips are the message. In sexualized images of women or young men, that signifies readiness, but here it reads as motion. He is doing things: he sees and is seen, and he speaks.
    So: Krugman speaks, urgently, personally, and perhaps just to you. I can’t help but think a picture of Shakira might offer the same message.

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