I’m not sure why I bothered to read Paul Krugman’s Sunday New York Times piece taking on the tax protest Tea Parties, but I’m glad I did.
Predictably – and without much imagination – Krugman uses the Tea Parties as a way to bash conservative/Republican values such as economic freedom and lower taxes. The tea parties, he charges, “have been the subject of considerable mockery – and rightly so.” Krugman never really explains why it is right to ridicule these demonstrations, opting instead to bash the traditional bogeymen of Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay. But a venerated columnist signing his name to Democratic Party talking points and submitting it as his own work isn’t particularly noteworthy.
Krugman shows his self-imposed limits when he makes the claim that the tea parties are “AstroTurf (fake grass roots).” The demonstrations, he claims, are “manufactured” by groups like FreedomWorks and Fox News.
The great thing about being an opinion columnist for the Times is exactly the same as the great thing about being a blogger: apparently, you can just fire off your thoughts without doing any research. If Krugman had, he might have figured out that the people who are conducting Tea Parties aren’t being paid. (Sure, there are organizers and leaders, but show me a political rally – or, for that matter, a riot – that doesn’t have someone calling the shots.) If he knew anything about FreedomWorks, he would know that they have a massive database of people who have signed up to participate in activities like this – on their free time, when they aren’t doing their day jobs. Actually, he probably could have found that out by picking up the phone and talking to someone over there – like a journalist would. If he had bothered to research the tea parties, he might have found the multiple websites that purport to be the “central headquarters” of the movement.
And how much money would it take to “AstroTurf” this much ground?
All of this makes Krugman’s piece less of a thoughtful expression of an opinion in a policy discussion and more partisan hit piece. Giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that wasn’t his goal, Krugman betrays his an intellectual sloth: the Republican Party is to be ridiculed because he cannot conceive of rational people agreeing with the philosophy of a smaller, more limited government, or opposing a massive influx of government capital to solve any problem deemed worthy.
In the real world, there are at least two sides to every story. In Krugman’s mind, we the people just don’t think that way – precluding the need for “research” on which so many real journalists spend time.
You might even say that Krugman’s reality is “manufactured.”