Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Krugman's Got Two Stalkers, Not Just One

Given my love of blog wars, I must admit that I'm sorry I missed the whole Donald Luskin stalker controversy. It occurred before I began reading blogs. I am sure that I would have loved to watch it play out. Fortunately, Luskin is still stalking1 Krugman with the same fervor and blind ignorance that led to the "stalking" controversy in the first place. Luskin's no longer alone in his stalking, either. Now, Kieth Burgess-Jackson has taken up his position outside of Krugman's bathroom window, and donned his binoculars. Burgess-Jackson's stalking hasn't reached Luskin's levels, yet, but a reader of his blog cannot go more than a day or two without discovering a vitriolic post about Krugman. When there are so many critics of Bush, and since Krugman is largely ignored by the general public, one can only wonder at Luskin and Burgess Jackson's obsession with him. It's for this reason that I think the "stalking" label is appropriate - this is clearly personal. What Krugman might have done to these two mediocre intellectuals, I do not know, but it must have been something really, really bad.

I might hesitate to call the fixation on Krugman of these two rhetorically-challenged bloggers "stalking," if their criticisms were at all substantial, but they rarely if ever are. More often than not, they consist of personal attacks on Krugman, and snide remarks about one of his remarks. For example, in a recent post, Luskin's entire critique of a Krugman article consists of the following:

Hey, why not suggest that Kerry claim he would have arrested Mohammed Atta on Septemer 10, 2001?

This post, which is much longer, making its lack of substance even more impressive, is another of my favorites. In it, Luskin describes Krugman as "America's most dangerous liberal pundit." This hyperbole is so patently absurd, one automatically believes that it is meant ironically, but the rest of the post, and Luskin's blog in general, make it clear that it's not.

Here is a post on Krugman by Burgess-Jackson, in its entirety:

Paul Krugman's hysteria becomes more pronounced with each passing day. He is beside himself with frustration and rage that the American people don't see what he sees: that President Bush is endangering them rather than making them safer. See here. If John Kerry takes Krugman's advice, Kerry will suffer Michael Dukakis's fate. But deep down, Krugman won't mind. It will give him four more years to do what he does best: spew hatred.

Project much, Keith? Who knew that in addition to being the world's most juvenile philosopher, Burgess-Jackson is also a psychoanalyst? If only this were Keith's worst effort. At least here he does not show a complete ignorance of economics, as he does when he asks, "By the way, who cares about the budget deficit?" in the following post:
Paul Krugman calling someone dishonest is precious. See here. He is the most intellectually dishonest person I have known in my forty-seven years. By the way, who cares about the budget deficit? Somebody give me a reason to care. If we keep taxes to a minimum, as President Bush is doing, it will force us to think clearly about what's important. Nothing focused my mind and disciplined my expenditures during law and graduate school more than poverty.

Ah yes, a personal anecdote. There's no better criticism of economic commentary than one person's experience! Precious.

If you think these posts might be unrepresentative of the two stalkers' comments on Krugman, you need only read their blogs for a few days to see that you are wrong. There's no attempt at substantive critiques; and little effort to criticize what Krugman actually says (and when there is, it usually consists of the sort of sardonic comments quoted from the Luskin posts). So, whatever Luskin and his lawyers think, the stalker label looks pretty appropriate to me. If their posts were motivated by anything more than an irrational Krugman fetish, one would expect substantive critiques of Krugman's anti-Bush articles. You'll find little if any of this.

1 The use of the label "stalker" on the internet has a long history (long relative to the age of the internet itself). Anyone who has used inernet forums or chatrooms is familiar with this use. It's a derogatory label used not to indicate the sort of stalking that might get someone arrested, but an unhealthy and irrational fixation by one internet user on another. If Luskin, Burgess-Jackson, and Krugman were all posters on some internet forum, and Luskin and B-G posted the same sorts of attacks with the same frequency, there is no doubt that other users would call them "Krugman's stalkers."

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