Paul Krugman writes: "But making nebulous calls for centrism, like writing news reports that always place equal blame on both parties, is a big cop-out - a cop-out that only encourages more bad behavior. The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you're not willing to say that, you're helping make that problem worse."
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
The Centrist Cop-Out
29 July 11
The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren't complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats - who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether - have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.
As I said, it's not complicated. Yet many people in the news media apparently can't bring themselves to acknowledge this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of "centrist" uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.
Some of us have long complained about the cult of "balance," the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read "Views Differ on Shape of Planet." But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?
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