Okay, now that I'm down from the clouds of FantasyLand, I'd really like to highlight the excellent interview Mr. Krugman gave to TPM's Election Central on his growing feud with Barack Obama. Here are some key quotes that made me yell "Thank you!" at my monitor. (Yes, I'm working at home right now. And no, the monitor doesn't talk back. Onward.)
EC: But should his conciliatory tone really be the basis to this extent of our evaluation of him? Some, including Matthew Yglesias, have argued that this focus on Obama's conciliatory rhetoric obscures the fact that Obama would still more likely prove a genuinely progressive president than Hillary would be.You mean, someone's actually reading her policy proposals and comparing them to Obama's? What is this, fact-based journamalism or something?
PK: What evidence is there that she would be especially bad for the progressive movement? For what it's worth, Hillary's actual policy proposals are more aggressive than Obama's.
EC: What about on foreign policy? You could argue that Hillary is less willing to challenge old rhetorical frames on foreign policy, and that with her rhetoric and stuff like her Kyl-Lieberman vote, she's ceding turf at the outset on foreign policy the same way Obama is on health care.
PK: I guess I've been going on the view that no Democrat is not going to end this war, and no Democrat is going to start another war. I have not felt that foreign policy is the defining issue in the race to the nomination. Whether we're going to get universal health care is much more of a question.
This one is more of a mixed bag for me. I think that all of the "top three" Democrats are indistinguishable on foreign policy. Just because Obama spoke out against the invasion of Iraq before he was in the Senate does not mean that he would have done so while in the Senate. After all, he voted "present" 130 times as a State Senator - and as for the Kyl-Lieberman vote, he was not even there! Not exactly a courageous stance, now, is it? As for John Edwards, like Hillary, he also voted for the AUMF, and is even more aggressive in his anti-Iran rhetoric than Senator Clinton.
Given all of that, I hope Krugman is right and that all the Democrats would bring our troops home from Iraqnam and Afghanistan. Certainly the American people - and Congress - will be pushing for that result; after all, if the Republics did not have filibuster and veto power, the war would be over by now.
Now for the piece de resistance:
EC: But surely there's something to the argument that the skills to build coalitions, to win over moderates on the other side, aren't without any importance. Should we really take tone and rhetorical skills out of the equation entirely?Damn, freaking, 100% right, and points I've made on this blog many times.
PK: No, but there aren't any moderates on the other side. And as far as sounding moderate goes, the reality is that if the Democrats nominated Joe Lieberman, a month into the general election Republicans would be portraying him as Josef Stalin. Obama's actually been positioning himself to the right of both Clinton and Edwards on domestic policy and has been attacking them from the right. [emphasis added]
The Democratic nominee is still going to be running on a platform that is substantially to the left of how Bill Clinton governed, and the Republican is going to nominate someone to the right of Attila the Hun. You want the Dem who's going to make that difference clear and not say things that will be used by Republicans to say, "Well, even their candidate says..."
And after the election, if you come in after having opposed mandates and having said Social Security is in a crisis, then you're going to have some problems fending off Republican attacks on health care and The Washington Post's demands that you make Social Security a top priority. Mostly it's a question of what happens after the election.
I am absolutely astonished that anyone sees Obama as some sort of liberal standard-bearer or agent for change, but in case anyone disagrees with Paul Krugman (and me of course!), check out the latest news: Apparently Obama would have no problem naming specific Republicans to be in his cabinet. (To be fair, John Edwards "the populist" made a more general remark about doing the same thing.) And Hillary, who many feel is the most centrist and corporate of the top three? Why lookee there - so far, no promises to include Republics in HER cabinet. Apparently, experience DOES count for something!
Need I say more?