Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 17, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

DONALD LUSKIN, VILLAGE IDIOT....I stopped reading Donald Luskin's dimwitted "Krugman Truth Squad" columns over at NRO a while back when it became clear that he wasn't to be taken any more seriously than Ann Coulter. But today Jesse Tayler had a short post about Luskin's latest column, and foolishly I clicked, and then clicked again, and soon enough I was hip deep in idiocy. Thanks a lot, Jesse.

Anyway, here is Krugman's column, which I suppose you ought to read first, and here is Luskin's reply. And here is E.J. Dionne's Washington Post column on the same subject, which Luskin quotes. Here's the story:

  • Luskin complains that Krugman doesn't identify either the House subcommittee or the "ranking Democrat" that he's talking about. Considering that Krugman is writing a 700-word opinion column not a news story and spends only two paragraphs on this, it's hard to see exactly what Luskin is upset about.

  • Luskin then names the ranking Democrat: Martin Olav Sabo. But Sabo's website doesn't even mention the amendment he supposedly introduced!

  • Next, he quotes Dionne saying that it was actually David Obey who introduced the amendment. But Obey isn't even on the subcommittee!

Idiot. David Obey is the ranking Democrat Krugman was talking about. He's the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and therefore entitled to sit on all subcommittees. Krugman and Dionne are in complete agreement.

And that was just the first paragraph. Luskin then goes on to complain about some other things Krugman said, all of which appear to be correct:

  • There was no reason to close the subcommittee meeting since classified material wasn't discussed. This is apparently true, since the Democrats unanimously voted to keep the meeting open. They can't all be traitors, can they?

  • The bill didn't contain Obey's proposed extra funding. Yep.

  • The homeland security budget is lower than last year. Also true, since Krugman is comparing the 2004 budget request to the entire 2003 budget, including supplemental appropriations.

Not only is Luskin too stupid to get his facts right about who sits on what subcommittee while simultaneously mocking Krugman, who said nothing wrong, but he then chastises Krugman for a further list of things that are essentially correct and certainly well within the normal rhetorical bounds of an opinion columnist. This is a fundamental problem with "Watch" columns, since the authors are constantly overreaching in order to prove that every single column and every single word their target writes is untrue. It's even worse, of course, when the author is an idiot.

I'll say it again: NRO should be ashamed to provide space to guys like this. I'm not on their side on much of anything, but even I think they're better than this.

Kevin Drum 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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