by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma. To begin with, he does not have a fixed truth — truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist. — Saul Alinsky, “Rules for Radicals,” 1971
I have often reminded readers of the Left’s idea of truth as subjective — specifically subjective to their political needs of the moment, even if that is a complete 180-degrees reversal of yesterday’s version.
Leftist economist Paul Krugman is a noted practitioner of the politically expedient reversal. E.g., is Social Security a “Ponzi game” (1996) or is calling it a Ponzi game just the “nonsense” of “decades of scare-mongering about Social Security’s future from conservative ideologues” (2008)? Wasn’t Ronald Reagan a supply-sider — or is it that, now that Reagan’s popularity and economic results have stood the test of time while the Krugman-cherished Keynesian superstition fails once more, Reagan was actually a Keynesian, no, seriously?
For that reason, Krugman gets a mite testy when someone quotes him from the past, without taking into consideration the different politics of the moment but treating it as if Krugman was giving an objective statement of belief. Why, it’s an ad hominem attack, it really is!
SCARBOROUGH: Paul, again, you’ve been predicting this for 20 years.
KRUGMAN: You know, that’s such a tired argument. You go and search for quotes and stuff I said once upon a time instead of dealing with the issue.
SCARBOROUGH: It’s not once upon a time. We’re talking about you said this for fifteen years….
KRUGMAN: So disappointing. Is all you can do is ad hominem and say, “Oh, you said this” and you were, pull out the…
SCARBOROUGH: Well, anybody that knows me knows I don’t engage in ad hominem attacks.
KRUGMAN: That’s what you’re doing right now. That’s awful.
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, I’m quoting back what you say.