William Kristol's bad grade in economics

The new New York Times pundit tries to punk Michelle Obama, but the one-time Harvard teaching fellow ends up reprimanded by a former student.

Published February 25, 2008 9:55PM (EST)

The moral of this story: Be careful who you give a C- to. The blogosphere remembers all!

Dani Rodrik, the Harvard economist whose thoughts on industrial policy, trade, and libertarianism have been featured numerous times here on How the World Works, takes long-awaited revenge today on the New York Times' newest Op-Ed columnist, right-wing propagandist William Kristol.

Rodrik had the pleasure of undergoing indoctrination from Kristol while an undergraduate at Harvard in two classes. (You'd think one class with Kristol as an instructor would be sufficient punishment for any sentient human being, but no.)

Rodrik's written work did not meet with Kristol's favor.

The essay on Machiavelli? Here is a C-. The essay on the Federalist Papers? Here is a C. John Stuart Mill? Well, how about, yes you guessed it, another C. You can say that Kristol did his best to discourage me from pursuing a career in political science...

The years went by, but Rodrik never forgot. And today, after reading a dismissive swipe at Michelle Obama in Kristol's latest offering, in which the columnist scorns her assertion that "Life for regular folks has gotten worse over the course of my lifetime, through Republican and Democratic administrations," by declaring that "in almost every empirical respect, American lives have in fact gotten better over the last quarter-century," Rodrik saw his opportunity.

For American men with only a high school education, Rodrik writes, median compensation has declined by 10 percent since 1980.

For that, Rodrik awards Kristol a C in economics.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Economics Globalization How The World Works Michelle Obama U.s. Economy