I think this is getting a bit silly. In his column, Paul Krugman seems to suggest that the main reason the Clinton administration failed to bring about major progressive change in the 1990s is that they didn’t talk enough smack about Ronald Reagan. And now on the blog we learn that Clinton is clearly the more progressive alternative to Obama because here’s one quote of Clinton saying something lefty sounding and here’s one quote which Krugman insists on willfully misconstruing.
Whatever happened to the Krugman who used to urge journalists to worry less about what rhetorical style politicians adopt and more looking at their policies? Didn’t this all start because Krugman thought Obama’s health care plan, while constituting an improvement over the status quo, isn’t as good as Hillary Clinton’s? That’s what I remember. And I think it was a fair point. But now we’re supposed to believe that Obama’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Or something. Meanwhile, I wish Krugman would at least acknowledge that there are foreign policy issues facing the country and some of us think they’re important. I don’t think “that Candidate B [i.e, Hillary Clinton], despite the progressive talk, is just Bush the third” but at times she’s shown a disturbing amount of common ground with Bush’s foreign policy views. At other times, she’s seemed quite good, but her record on Iraq is bad.
Back to the beginning, I think it’s extremely clear that the meager results of the Clinton administration relate, in the first instance, to the large number of conservatives in congress when Clinton was president, and in the second instance to the moderate views of Clinton administration figures. An inability to upend narratives about Reagan was neither here nor there. In terms of congress, again, one thing a lot of people like about Obama is that Democratic politicians running in marginal areas overwhelmingly seem to believe that they would do better with Obama at the head of the ticket.
That said, I’ll freely grant that I’m getting a bit tired of defending Obama and his campaign. Stuff like this from Krugman clearly hurts them, but the easiest way to deflect claims that Obama is the more conservative choice would be for Obama to say so himself in a clear and direct way. Given that Clinton is very much running as her husband’s wife, it should hardly be impossible to make the case that establishing continuity with the moderate Clinton administration is the moderate choice.