krugman’s wisdom

Posted on January 16, 2009


If only President-elect Barack Obama had the magnanimity to give Princeton professor Paul Krugman a job in his cabinet.

Krugman, a leading light in international trade and economics who recently received a Nobel Prize in Economics, wrote a scathing and courageous column in today’s New York Times.

In taking on a topic no one on Capitol Hill seems to want to touch with a 10-foot pole, Krugman took the President-elect to task for implying that he will not investigate the corruption, deception and sleaze that have sprung up during the eight years of the Bush administration.

“I don’t believe that anybody is above the law,” Obama responded in a question to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week”, but “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

Driving home the point that to be the President’s prime role is to protect the Constitution, Krugman states that:

And to protect and defend the Constitution, a president must do more than obey the Constitution himself; he must hold those who violate the Constitution accountable. So Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that’s not a decision he has the right to make.”

Tough words, but so true. Krugman rightly insists that letting sleeping dogs lie would only imply that “this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.” You’ve said it, Krugman.

Unfortunately, the problem might not just be that of the Bush administration. The Democrats are also complicit in so many ways in the whole sorry saga and would prefer to sweep things under the carpet so that their own behinds are protected.

Others may think that with so much to deal with, especially the tanking economy, the country simply does not have the energy nor the resources to be bogged down by an investigation and drawn out drama of taking the assorted culprits to task.

But Obama was elected on the promise of enacting change in the political system. His vision is one of not having politics as usual. By looking the other way and crouching it as “not looking backwards”, it taints the claim that his administration will give the US people a clean break and a fresh start that they so badly want.

It’s already happened one time too many: new administrations promising to “clean-up” and make things right become only too happy to forgive and forget. If perpetrators are not taken to task, we should not be surprised when history repeats itself time and again.

Bill Clinton and the country was dragged through the mud for a personal peccadillo — sexual infidelity — but the Democrats are going to close their eyes on a war fought on fraudulent, even fabricated evidence, graft that’s gone way out of control and the erosion of Americans’ civil rights? No wonder it deserves to ridiculed as the party of weak-spined losers.

Sure, some people will say that Krugman’s on a warpath against the soon-to-be Obama administration because he is sore about not having been appointed to a top-notch Cabinet position. Krugman was firmly in Hillary Clinton’s corner during the Democratic primaries and wrote columns highlighting the weaknesses of Obama’s economic proposals. So perhaps nothing has been forgiven between the two sides.

Still, we need a voice of courage and clarity like Krugman. Let him continue to be a thorn on Obama’s side. We have had enough of the media being muzzled and comatose for the last eight years. Bravo for brilliant and brave minds like Krugman. Keep asking questions, Professor Krugman.