Eddy Elfenbein of Crossing Wall Street criticizes Paul Krugman's fixation on Tom DeLay:
Paul Krugman writes about Tom DeLay:
Going back to those tea parties, Mr. DeLay, a fierce opponent of the theory of evolution — he famously suggested that the teaching of evolution led to the Columbine school massacre — also foreshadowed the denunciations of evolution that have emerged at some of the parties.
These are the kinds of the things Krugman writes that are so frustrating. He’s a brilliant economist but too often drives off the reservation into dishonesty.
After reading Krugman’s account, are you led to believe that Tom DeLay said in a clear declarative sentence that Columbine was the result of the teaching of evolution? That he repeatedly said it and would say it again today if asked?
I really wonder how many people understand that saying something that’s factually correct isn’t good enough. An accurate fact can be presented in a dishonest way. I think if I said this to many political pundits, their heads would explode.
Context? We don't need no stinkin' context!
However! In the course of trying to establish just what Tom DeLay did or did not say, a little chestnut emerged at AlterNet, the Public Citizen, and About.com, as well as at other sites including Kevin Drum's (who emerges as the comic foil). Here is Drum:
R.I.P. TOM DELAY....Ruth Marcus memorializes Tom DeLay in the Washington Post today and does a fine job. However, I — like many others — will always remember him best for his reaction to the Columbine shootings in 1999:
Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills.
Ooops! Turns out that Tom DeLay never actually said that, as Drum notes a bit later - the "quote" is a very simplified paraphrase of a letter DeLay read on the House floor, as explained by Mr. Elfenbein. Here is a NY Times story covering the House debate in 1999 which does include a part of the paraphrase:
Mr. DeLay said that in a way he was pleased with the final result.
''The guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence,'' Mr. DeLay said, adding that he ''had a great time this week'' getting to debate cultural issues.
WE WRITE OF MISSING CONTEXT: Here is Krugman simplifying DeLay on July 13 2004:
Really? Just glancing at the letter Mr. DeLay read, I would say he passed along the view that juvenile violence may be due to broken homes; parents not spending time with their kids; kids in daycare; kids watching, on average, seven hours of violent, sexualized televsion per day; violent video games; kids being viewed as a burden and a failure of birth control; humans being presented in schools as glorified apes; and kids being taught "that there are no laws of morality that transcend us".
Hey, no mention of rap music? Well, Tipper Gore could have signed up for some of these concerns, as could any earnest lib.
MY FAVORITE CITE: My favorite instance of this bum quote comes from The Transnational Institute, "a worldwide fellowship of committed scholar-activists".
When it comes to raising money for his PACs, however, DeLay shows his mastery of the modern world. He saves his anti-modernism to explain the real causes for the school terrorism at Columbine. "Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills (Stephen Pizzo, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans," alternet May 16, 2002). The man who has promoted himself as a champion of children took "a $100,000 check from a
Hmm. The AlterNet cite is the one linked above; the book by Stephen Pizzo, "Inside Job", was published in 1989, covers the S&L debacle, and, I am quite confident, does not contain any of Mr. DeLay's thoughts on the 1999 Columbine shooting.
LACKS NUANCE, BUT SEEMS TO BE LEFTY-APPROVED: Based on the notion that if a person cites multiple causes a critic can cherry-pick one or two and insist they have fairly represented the person's view, I can now reveal that Obama attributed the racial divide in America to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, compounded by spotty garbage collection in poor neighborhoods. Hey, this is a powerful new tool for the King.
WAS IT ONLY A YEAR AGO? Last May 5, 2008 Paul Krugman not-so-famously wrote that "the worst of the financial crisis is over. That’s the good news." He then deplored the fading prospects for meaningful reform of the financial system. Eerily Prescient! And don't vex me by restoring the context - I look right past his weaselly qualifiers:
Cross your fingers, knock on wood: it’s possible, though by no means certain, that the worst of the financial crisis is over.
RANDOM FUN: At the Times website they promote some Krugman columns form the archives; their second selection is this:
Why are politicians so eager to pin the blame for oil prices on speculators? Because it lets them believe that we don’t have to adapt to a world of expensive gas.June 27, 2008 opinion Op-Ed
In any case, one thing is clear: the hyperventilation over oil-market speculation is distracting us from the real issues.Regulating futures markets more tightly isn’t a bad idea, but it won’t bring back the days of cheap oil. Nothing will. Oil prices will fluctuate in the coming years — I wouldn’t be surprised if they slip for a while as consumers drive less, switch to more fuel-efficient cars, and so on — but the long-term trend is surely up.
I guess Krugman wasn't surprised since he had predicted prices might "slip a little".