Apparently the White House chief of staff agrees. In a New Yorker profile by Ryan Lizza, Rahm Emanuel was asked about criticism by New York Times columnist and economics Nobel laureate Paul Krugman that President Obama’s “concessions to Senate Republicans — in particular, the tax cuts, which will do little to stimulate the economy — produced a package that wasn’t large enough to respond to the magnitude of the recession.”
“They have never worked the legislative process … How many bills has he passed?” Mr. Emanuel is quoted as saying dismissively before going on to a remarkable elaboration. “Now, my view is that Krugman as an economist is not wrong. But in the art of the possible, of the deal, he is wrong. He couldn’t get his legislation.”
Although in a bit of intellectual jujitsu, Matt Yglesias at Think Progress says this dynamic actually argues for the bill and calls “this particular form of ping-pong to be a big odd: 1. Practical Politician A offers Proposal X. 2. Outside Commenter B says that X is too moderate on the merits. 3. Practical Politician A angrily retorts that better legislation on the merits would have been impossible to secure.
“I think the right way to understand the (1)/(2) dynamic here is that the criticism in step (2) makes it easier to secure the passage of legislation. If you propose something, and every single progressive in all the land immediately lauds it as the greatest bill ever written, then your legislation is now an extreme left proposal and it’s doomed. If you’re going to make concessions to political reality then you need to weather a bit of criticism from your left — that’s what establishes the proposal as moderate and sensible. Things like ‘some liberal economists such as Paul Krugman say the proposal is too small’ is a helpful piece of context-setting that prevents the proposal from appearing too radical.”
Conservative bloggers are pushing a week of “tea party” events against President Obama’s economic agenda, since that phrase seems to get under the White House’s skin
“We got the anti-stimulus, anti-entitlement protest ball rolling — and now the movement, spurred further by CNBC host Rick Santelli’s call for a ‘Chicago Tea Party,’ is really taking off. I’m happy to report on several new protest events now on the docket,” writes Michelle Malkin at her eponymous blog.
“My friend Michael Patrick Leahy of Top Conservatives on Twitter and his crew are spearheading ‘simultaneous local tea parties around the country, beginning in Chicago, and including Washington DC, Fayetteville NC, San Diego CA, Omaha Nebraska, and dozens of other locations’ for next Friday,” she said, before providing links and information to those and other events in Fort Worth, Atlanta and “a terrific set of detailed tips on how to organize your own tea party protest” from Brendan Steinhauser.
“Yes, you can!” she exhorts her readers.
• Victor Morton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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