Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Paul Krugman's Unfair Attack on Civilians



I know that the left has apparently decided that because the Lying Republican Attack Machine will stop at nothing to win the election, neither will they. However, in yesterday's piece, Krugman dropped the bar about as far as I can imagine. Krugman writes:

If the occupiers often seemed oblivious to reality, one reason was that many jobs at the C.P.A. went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections — people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen, a prominent neoconservative, told a forum that "the level of casualties is secondary" because "we are a warlike people" and "we love war."


Amazingly, even for an article in the New York Times, Krugman almost manages to pack more misrepresentations in his article than actual words.

Michael Ledeen: The "level of causualties" quote is grossly out of context. Ledeen wasn't saying it was ok with him if there were a lot of casualties. Instead, during an AEI forum during the main Iraq invasion, Ledeen was answering a question as to what casualty level the US population would support. In response, Ledeen said that he thought that US citizens weren't as sensitive to casualties as some people think, and that scholars have found that we are a "warlike people" who are primarily concerned with whether we are winning or losing the war, and only secondarily concerned with casualties. I happen to think Ledeen's right, but at any rate, in context, it's certainly a defensible idea. Of course, that's why Krugman doesn't bother with context, even if he knows it.

Simone Ledeen: This is pretty outrageous. Krugman slanders a civilian, suggesting that she went to Iraq(!!!) as some kind of patronage boondoggle. So in the same week, I get treated to Michael Moore picking on Congressmen because their children aren't in Iraq, and Krugman picking on the Ledeen family because their child is in Iraq.

In fact, if you read the article that apparently set Krugman off on this disappointing attack, you'll find the following. (1) Simone Ledeen, just finished with her MBA, was one of a group of six "gophers" hired to assist the CPA. Although they were apparently hired because they had submitted resumes to the Heritage Foundation, no patronage seemed to be required - the group included former Red Cross volunteers and school teachers. Moreover, the CPA was shortstaffed overall because it didn't get as many hires as it needed, and the people it did get often left after three months. (2) Although Ms. Ledeen started with entry level tasks, high turnover and her good work moved her up the organization quickly, and based on all reports, she did a good job. (3) Ms. Ledeen did this job under significant risk.

So in short, Ms. Ledeen, a politically connected MBA who probably could have had any number of good jobs, volunteered to work under extremely dangerous conditions in an agency that had more job openings than employees, where, by all reports, she did a very good job and helped a lot of Iraqis. Of course, you won't get any of that from Krugman, who would rather smear a woman who volunteered to serve her country and Iraq if it has even a chance of tipping the election away from Bush.

I know, I know, Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, and Michael Savage all use the same argument style - misrepresented facts, presented out of context, to satisfy an already convinced audience. But it's a shame when the style is used to attack someone who seems to have risked her life in public service. It's also a shame to waste Krugman and the NYT op-ed pages on gutter political writing. Krugman used to write infomative and interesting pieces on economics, and I'm told he was also a worthwhile economist. As for the NYT, what's next? A Coulter column?

More here and here.