Paul Krugman’s blog today laments another example of false equivalence, when he catches Clive Crook claiming that if the shoe were on the other foot, Democrats would behave like the Tea-GOP. They’d take the US credit to the brink, holding the economy hostage to impose the Democrats’ policy objectives, so they’re just as bad as the Tea-GOP crazies who have created the debt limit crisis.

From Krugman’s blog, Clive Crook Is Drowning America:

Crook accurately describes the destructive behavior of the GOP and how it’s making the country ungovernable. But does he then condemn the perpetrators? Not exactly. Instead, he calls a plague on both houses:

If positions were reversed, Democrats would feel just as entitled to disable, by any means necessary, their enemies’ legislative accomplishments.

Would they? Did they in fact behave like that when Republicans held the White House? No, they didn’t; Crook equates real GOP behavior with an imagined Democratic future. . . .

The NYT conservative columnist, Ross Douthat, then illustrates Krugman’s point. Right across the NYT op ed page from Krugman’s regular Monday column is this pernicious example from Douthat.

Some conservatives first assumed the Norwegian killings were done by Muslims, but now Ross is struggling to deal with the right wing political preferences and writings of the alleged killer of over 90 people. To be sure, Ross’s column acknowledges the links between obvious terrorism and right wing, Christian extremists. But Douthat can’t just make that point; he’s got to drag a Democrat into the same sewer.

In his opening paragraphs, Douthat insists on reminding us first that his right wing blogger buddies once made jokes about how Al Gore argued against the destruction of the environment. And if you cherry pick Gore’s quotes, you can find rhetoric that might have been echoed in the writings of the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski:  [cont’d.]

Was it the bearded hermit who hailed “isolated pockets of resistance fighters” for struggling against modern society’s “assault on the earth”? No, that would be the former vice president. Was it Kaczynski, the mathematics Ph.D. turned mad bomber, who complained about the “destructive” impact of bringing a child into “the hugely consumptionist way of life so common in the industrial world”? No, Gore again.

Well, that settles it. The former Vice President of the United States wrote an “eco-manifesto” and talked like an eco terrorist and stoked mass murder, because he thought human resource extraction was “destructive,” a point I thought was undeniable. So when you think about Norway, remember what Al Gore said.

Of course, Douthat then denies he’s trying to make the connection he just spent the first three paragraphs making.

Having planted that little gem in his readers’ heads with his opening paragraphs, Douthat is now cleared with his buddies to sound reasonable by admitting the undeniable — that the suspect in the Norway murders was reportedly a violent, right wing Christian extremist instead of the Muslim some of them first assumed.

I’m wondering if the NYT op-ed editors even raised an eyebrow when they saw Douthat’s “right-wing monster.”



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

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