Monday, May 05, 2008


Cowboy politics, not limited to Spurious George

From NPR’s Morning Edition today, reporting about the candidates’ appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows:

NPR: For Hillary Clinton, it was ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, who once worked for her husband. He asked her about her backing of a summertime suspension of an 18-cents-a-gallon federal gas tax, something Obama opposes:

GS: Can you name one economist, a credible economist, who supports this suspension?

HRC: Well, you know, George, I think we’ve been, for the last seven years, seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven’t worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans.

Allow me to substitute, for Mrs Clinton’s response, a real response to Mr Stephanopoulos’s question:

GS: Can you name one economist, a credible economist, who supports this suspension?

HRC: Well, you know, George... No, I can’t. So I’m going to attack the question instead.

Think about her answer for a moment, and see if it sounds somewhat familiar: Senator Clinton says that she knows better than experts in the field. She says that we should ignore those who know what they’re talking about, and accept her statement that this is the right thing to do. She can’t name one, single bit of credible support for what she says, so she dismisses the criticism as coming from the “elite” (for which we might substitute “scientists”), and trots out the trite “hard-working Americans” phrase that’s guaranteed to bring a few cheers from people who don’t think about it too much.

Have we heard that from someone else recently? Through much of the last seven years, say? I almost expected her to tell us that those who oppose her plan are on the side of the terrorists, and hate freedom.

No, I’m not saying that Mrs Clinton compares with King George. But her rhetoric is starting to sound scarily like his. Be careful, Senator.

One hard-working American in the audience on Sunday had it just right:

“Call me crazy,” the young woman said, “but I actually listen to economists because they know what they studied.”


briwei said...

I'm just glad that GS asked her a "tough question" that actually had some relevance. If only he had followed it up.

Dr. Momentum said...

You're channeling one of my favorite economists, Robert Reich.

This gas tax business is all political manipulation. People love it, and it'll never happen, so it's perfect political talk.

Dr. Momentum said...

Also thought Krugman's article today was very good.