Paul Krugman is at it again.
And God is he good at what he does.
In this issue, he takes a seemingly innocuous event--the inclusion of 27 glossy photos of George W. Bush in the 2004 budget--and uses it as a brilliant metaphor for what's wrong with Bush's presidency.
We see the president in front of a giant American flag, in front of the Washington Monument, comforting an elderly woman in a wheelchair, helping a small child with his reading assignment, building a trail through the wilderness and, of course, eating turkey with the troops in Iraq. Somehow the art director neglected to include a photo of the president swimming across the Yangtze River.
What the budget does not include, however, is money for the troops in Iraq beyond the month of September--while at the same time running up another $500 billion in debt for the year. So how to defend such dishonesty?
But when administration officials are challenged about the blatant deceptions in their budgets — or, for that matter, about the use of prewar intelligence — their response, almost always, is to fall back on the president's character. How dare you question Mr. Bush's honesty, they ask, when he is a man of such unimpeachable integrity?Partisan critics like me and the people I hang out with have long known the flight suit was stuffed with something considerably less substantial than even Derek Smalls' foil-encased cucumber. But Krugman lists Bush's foibles in one breathtaking section:
There is, as far as I can tell, no positive evidence that Mr. Bush is a man of exceptional uprightness. When has he even accepted responsibility for something that went wrong? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he is willing to cut corners when it's to his personal advantage. His business career was full of questionable deals, and whatever the full truth about his National Guard service, it was certainly not glorious.
Old history, you may say, and irrelevant to the present. And perhaps that would be true if Mr. Bush was prepared to come clean about his past. Instead, he remains evasive. On "Meet the Press" he promised to release all his records — and promptly broke that promise.
I don't know what he's hiding. But I do think he has forfeited any right to cite his character to turn away charges that his administration is lying about its policies. And that is the point: Mr. Bush may not be a particularly bad man, but he isn't the paragon his handlers portray.
Thank you Mr. Krugman. I couldn't have said it better myself.