Disagreeing with Paul Krugman ? 1

I have long been embarrassed by the fact that I almost always agree with Paul Krugman — I fear that I am not an independent thinker. I eagerly look for chances to disagree and see two promising possibilities at his blog.

He has a negative view of Bernie Sanders “Why I Haven’t Felt the Bern “ which links to his column on insulting Dixie

The post is brief and a bit odd — Krugman criticizes Sanders for

… the casual adoption, with no visible effort to check the premises, of a story line that sounds good. It’s all about the big banks; single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it; government spending will yield huge payoffs — not the more modest payoffs conventional Keynesian analysis suggests; Republican support will vanish if we take on corporate media.

In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification.

Which paragraph + 1 sentence do seem to describe themselves don’t they ? In general I quite seriously think that one shouldn’t paraphrase when criticizing the alleged absence of necessary qualifications. Sanders’s statements are not as brief as the summaries, so it is not sound analysis to argue that the summaries are too brief to be properly qualified.

Also two of Krugman’s criticisms invoke the limits of the politically possible “there for the taking” and “Republican support”. I think one very simple rule about what is politically possible is that more is politically possible if one has a story line that sounds good than if one is careful to add all qualifiers which are necessary for one’s statements to be true. The criticism of a political campaign seems to be criticism of effective campaign tactics. A nomination contest isn’t a seminar. Here the totally unexpected level of success of the Sanders campaign (while not enough so far to win the nomination) is evidence that statements which displease Krugman (and me) by being too close to simplistic slogans are just what a campaign needs.

Krugman’s concern is that Sanders may not be dumbing it down for people who are rationally focused more on their lives than on public policy debates, but might really think that way. I think it is very hard to evaluate this based on Sanders’s record as a senator.

Then Krugman complains

the all-purpose response to anyone who raises questions is that she or he is a member of the establishment, personally corrupt, etc.. Ad hominem attacks aren’t a final line of defense, they’re argument #1.

The voice used is passive. Who makes those all-purpose responses ? I can name some people in my Twitter feed, but Sanders isn’t responsible for them. This is relevant to the choice of a candidate if this is the approach taken by Sanders, people Sanders has hired for his campaign, and surrogates whom Sanders has recognized.

I’m not convinced (I am convinced enough that it is wiser to vote for Clinton to have voted for her in the Massachusetts primary). Krugman’s post is way to brief to be a convincing argument (and indeed it was not meant to be one, being an explanation of his feelings and attitude).