In his latest column for the New York Times, best-selling author and award-winning economist Paul Krugman argues that Republicans aren't just political extortionists — they're incompetent, too.
Responding to a report on how the ongoing government shutdown was planned for months by conservative activists, Krugman calls the right's plan to thwart Obamacare "crazy talk," and claims it to be the result of conservatives' living in the GOP "bubble."
"After all, health reform is Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement," Krugman writes. "You’d have to be completely clueless to believe that he could be bullied into giving up his entire legacy ... But the possibility that their strategy might backfire doesn’t seem to have occurred to the would-be extortionists."
But while Krugman has little patience for the conservative grass roots, he reserves the majority of his ire for the House Republican leadership that went along with the "completely clueless" plan:
Even more remarkable, in its way, was the response of House Republican leaders, who didn’t tell the activists they were being foolish. All they did was urge that the extortion attempt be made over the debt ceiling rather than a government shutdown. And as recently as last week Eric Cantor, the majority leader, was in effect assuring his colleagues that the president will, in fact, give in to blackmail. As far as anyone can tell, Republican leaders are just beginning to suspect that Mr. Obama really means what he has been saying all along.
Krugman goes on to argue that the GOP's resistance to reality in the realm of public policy — as seen in the party's refusal to acknowledge climate change — has also "infected" its political worldview. "For a while the party was able to compartmentalize, to remain savvy and realistic about politics even as it rejected objectivity everywhere else. But this wasn’t sustainable," Krugman writes. He cites the party's outright shock at (predictably) losing the 2012 presidential contest as a previous and telling example of the GOP's increasing distance from political reality.
"Unfortunately for all of us," Krugman writes, "even the shock of electoral defeat wasn’t enough to burst the G.O.P. bubble." The ultimate result? A government shutdown and a looming debt-ceiling disaster. "Incompetence," writes Krugman, "can be a terrible thing."