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Krugman writes: 'The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won't be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process. Of course, given the terrible economic picture and the tendency of voters to blame whoever holds the White House for bad times, even a deeply flawed G.O.P. nominee might very well win the presidency. But then what?"

Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)

Send In the Clueless

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

05 December 11


here are two crucial things you need to understand about the current state of American politics. First, given the still dire economic situation, 2012 should be a year of Republican triumph. Second, the G.O.P. may nonetheless snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - because Herman Cain was not an accident.

And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security. So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or to be totally clueless.

Mitt Romney embodies the first option. He's not a stupid man; he knows perfectly well, to take a not incidental example, that the Obama health reform is identical in all important respects to the reform he himself introduced in Massachusetts - but that doesn't stop him from denouncing the Obama plan as a vast government takeover that is nothing like what he did. He presumably knows how to read a budget, which means that he must know that defense spending has continued to rise under the current administration, but this doesn't stop him from pledging to reverse Mr. Obama's "massive defense cuts." Mr. Romney's strategy, in short, is to pretend that he shares the ignorance and misconceptions of the Republican base. He isn't a stupid man - but he seems to play one on TV.

And Mr. Gingrich has some advantages none of the previous challengers had. He is by no means the deep thinker he imagines himself to be, but he's a glib speaker, even when he has no idea what he's talking about. And my sense is that he's also very good at doublethink - that even when he knows what he's saying isn't true, he manages to believe it while he's saying it. So he may not implode like his predecessors. The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won't be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process.

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+55 # AMLLLLL 2011-12-05 18:39
You voice what I've been thinking for a long time, Paul.

The GOP is still selling snake oil, however wrapped or packaged. Huntsman is the only true conservative, and he's trying not to be.

I always wonder what would have happened had Obama truly believed in himself as we did.
+47 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2011-12-05 18:52
We need someone to compile a master list of all the absurdities and lies promulgated by Republican Party "leaders" since President Obama took office. In this commentary, Paul Krugman begins to remind us just how daffy the items on that list would be.
+3 # MidwestTom 2011-12-05 20:11
Obama snowed all of us with his speaking ability, it certainly was not his record or his beliefs; and we all know what we got, a DINO. Due to Obama's oratory skills, the Republicans are apparently countering, not with ideas, but with n shrewd debater to counter Obama. Who really is Gingrich, he is pro Cap & Trade, for national health care; is he a RINO? What a poor choice we will have. Where is Dennis, we need him.
-10 # 2011-12-05 21:36
Midwest Tom, I agree with you. Obama won the election on rhetoric and meaningless promises. He lacks an inner core as well as commitment and concern for the people who voted for him. Politically and persinally, he is an "empty suit". Gingrich the front-runner for the GOP is no empty suit. He is filled with concern and commitment for the wrong things. As POTUS, he would be a danger to democracy and our humanitarian principles. We will see more human beings tortured all over. We will have more racist, anti-women, anti-middle class,and anti-gay policies; less money for education, Seniors, and the poor, more corruption in politics and more WAR. Bachman, Perry are made of the same ilk. The only difference being Gingrich is smarter and a better at debate. Huntsman is too normal to reign in the GOP today. Romney is a Wild card. Less conservative with social policy he flip flops on those issues trying to hide it. He's as intelligent as Gingrich but less dangerous policy-wise which is why Tea Partiers dislike him. They need a dangerous candidate to enforce their dangerous principles and policies. What about Obama? Obama is the reason these anachronistict Repugs have taken center stage. He set the stage for them with his "double speak" and lack of qualification to be POTUS and he needs to step down for the good of the country.
+17 # Ken Hall 2011-12-06 02:04
Being as intelligent as Gingrich is neither high praise nor a ringing endorsement for any candidate who is vying for the highest office in the US.
+5 # Pickwicky 2011-12-07 16:21
Who decreed that Gingrich is intelligent? Many stupid Republicans.
+7 # Todd Williams 2011-12-06 14:39
Dorian, I don't know where to start ripping apart your analysis. I can only say that blaming Obama for the "anachronistic Repugs" taking center stage is patently absurd. And stepping down for the "good of the country?" That has got to be one of the most foolish statements I've heard in months, if not years. Have you lost your mind? Do you have any concept of what that rash act would do to our country? My God, please educate yourself!
+26 # Nell H 2011-12-05 20:41
It's time for liberals to face facts. We must re-elect Obama, so stop being critical. Obama has done a lot of good things.

Those who are critical of Obama are pro Republican. Beware of them.
-7 # Okieangels 2011-12-06 00:08
Republican, Republican-lite , what's the difference. Time to vote Green Party...
+7 # ABen 2011-12-06 10:38
Okie; I urge you and those who agree with you to rethink this position. It is unwarranted suspicion about Gore's honesty, fostered by a GOP smear campaign, that got us eight years of the Shrubites. There is no viable third party candidate, and protest votes usually produce a result that is opposite of what is desired. Check with your older friends and see how many will admit voting for Nadar and ensuring that Bush got elected.
-4 # Okieangels 2011-12-06 13:52
Well, I actually believe Jill Stein is a better candidate...the best in the field so far. And, living in a Red State, my vote for her won't hurt Obama anyway.
+4 # Magars 2011-12-06 11:51
Quoting Nell H:
It's time for liberals to face facts. We must re-elect Obama, so stop being critical. Obama has done a lot of good things.

Those who are critical of Obama are pro Republican. Beware of them.

Sir,you sound like an intolerant dictator!callin g us the one that criticize Obama for his broken promisess,pro-r epublicans is totally unappropiate. Please,read the article that appeared in ALTERNET,other progressive news provider" 20 ways the Obama administration has intruded on your Rights" . Would be good if you read what Theodore Roosevelt said: "...TO ANNOUNCE THAT THERE MUST BE NO CRITICISM OF THE PRESIDENT,OR THAT WE ARE TO STAND BY THE PRESIDENT,RIGHT OR WRONG,IS NOT ONLY UNPATRIOTIC AND SERVIL,BUT IS MORALLY TREASONABLE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH SHOULD BE SPOKEN ABOUT HIM OR ANY ONE ELSE.BUT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO TELL THE TRUTH,PLEASANT OR UNPLEASANT,ABOU T HIM THAT ABOUT ANY ONE ELSE".
"Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star" May 7,1918
0 # jky1291 2011-12-10 22:22
I'm sorry but if the Obama supporters want to split the progressive vote and give the White House to the Republican terrorists that is on them, because there are enough Independents who will not vote for Obama, as well as disenchanted Democrats that he has zero chance of being reelected. But, a true Progressive could enjoy a landslide victory, by leveraging the 90% and growing dissatisfaction with Congress. While I will never vote for another Republican as long as I live, the tax reduction extension welfare entitlement bailout for millionaires and billionaires, following the health care capitulation, forfeited my support for President Obama. It is one thing if one does not know what is right, but it is inexcusable when one knows what is right and still refuses to uphold those principles. If one only votes for the lesser of 2 evils the result still cannot be acceptable. It is essential that a candidate that genuinely supports and will fight for the fundamental issues presented in the Rebuild the American Dream movement is identified, recruited, and elected as a 3rd party President to wrestle our country out of the death grip of the multinational corporations.

If President Obama wished to run in 2016, I would wish him well, hoping he had learned what is required to truly represent all of the citizens of this nation, not just the wealthy 2%.
+2 # James Marcus 2011-12-05 20:42
So, I'm reckoning the whole Republican ticket is a set-up for an 'Obama re-election', awful as that may be .
Also, should, by a miracle, Obama lie himself out of office anyway, I think we would see a 'Cheney-Like' republican
V .P. to 'assist his President' in any Important Given Directions
+23 # 2011-12-05 20:45
Krugman is right. The Republican candidates are deeply flawed and particularly by their messages which all sound alike and deeply flawed, morally and pragmatically; out of time and beyond reason. Huntsman and Romney are the only two who have not captured their GOP parties support or interest because they do not really care about the social policies which are fundamentalist, wrong, inhumane and anachronistic. Yet, they pretend to believe on some inauthentic level or they would not even be on the charts in the public eye because the GOP is currently that flawed anti-democratic and dangerously close to fascisim. Huntsman is too smart and normal to be a GOP today which is why he is not a front runner. Romney may be smarter and more capable than he appears to be on this stage of moronic meanies and flipflops mainly on social undemocratic policies because his interest is in economic policy not anti-women or homophobic policies. Huntsman is the best candidate. Romney is less dangerous than the others but neither has the chutzbah to clarify what they stand for. Obama is in deep trouble without a doubt. The people have lost confidence in him and no longer see him as trustworthy or suthentic. What to do?
It is not only the GOP who are clueless in political principle or Obama who is clueless politically and intellectually; We the people are clueless about what to do.
+24 # fredboy 2011-12-05 21:01
I just watched the film "Inside Job" again which ends with Obama's appointment of Summers and an array of former Goldman execs to key advisory and regulatory roles. Considering how he sold us out, I am having a hard time differentiating the major political parties and their contenders.
+5 # 2011-12-05 21:40
You got it, Fredboy!
+1 # mwd870 2011-12-07 09:48
With big money/Wall Street/corporat ions making the rules, it is hard to differentiate the major political parties and their contenders, except for a few principled members of Congress.

One of Paul Krugman's points may be that if the Republicans win in 2012, their
ideology could end up being the best way ever to turn the American public to liberal ways of thinking and governing. We've seen this already in the backlash after voters realized the ramifications of the 2010 elections where so many Republicans were voted into office.

However, four years would be a long time to suffer with a pretend clueless but really very dangerous Republican president.

It still seems there is a better chance to advocate for real reform if Obama is elected again.
+7 # 2011-12-05 21:48
Mr. Krugman: You have written a very subtle and brilliant editorial. But, WHY do you say Herman Cain was no accident? Who brought this deeply flawed candidate into the race and why?
+6 # Texas Aggie 2011-12-06 12:31
I would think that the reason he was no accident is that what the base is clamoring for is what Cain presented himself as. He fit the model that the anyone-but-Romn ey base was looking for. That it happened to be Herman Cain may have been the accident, but how much different are Cain and Trump? They fit the same mold and are what the present republican ethos demands. So if it weren't Herman, it would have been someone just like him.
+22 # leedeegirl 2011-12-05 22:43
Nell H said: "Those who are critical of Obama are pro Republican. Beware of them."

This is blanket statement and completely untrue.

There are many "progressives" who are critical of Obama, and are in NO WAY "pro Republican"
-5 # Okieangels 2011-12-06 00:13
That was a completely irrational statement. Once upon a time, I was "true blue." But, there's only so many times the Dems can sell you out before you go looking for "Greener" pastures. (Hint: Vote for Jill Stein)
+6 # Regina 2011-12-06 00:58
But their rancor over Obama's "accommodations " to the Republicans (which of course went nowhere) may lead to an anti-Obama vote -- and election of a Republican committed to selling out the country to the diabolical demands of Norquist
and the Kochs.
0 # Pickwicky 2011-12-07 16:27
How best to illuminate the Republicans' refusal to promote country over politics than for President Obama to give them enough rope (cooperation) to let them hang themselves?
+4 # Vern Radul 2011-12-06 08:42
It is not Obama's fault, but it would be a very serious problem for the whole country if one of these loony Republicans wins in 2012.

Just like in the lead up to the 2008 election, millions of 'democrats' will have to start pretending all over again again that they are opposed to most of what Obama has been doing since he's been president.

It is not Obama's fault that even though he promised transparency there are still some people who are still unable to see through him.

Obama does NOT cave. When someone continually and repeatedly goes along on everything with someone else whom they 'claim' to be opposing, it's not 'caving'.

It's the plan. The INTENTIONAL plan.

Look carefully at his re-election "strategy"...

On July 07 Doyle McManus published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on Team Obama's victory plan, analyzing Senior White House Adviser (the "brains" behind the president's 2008 campaign) David Plouffe's comments at a breakfast Wednesday, July 6, 2011, organized by Bloomberg news.

First, Plouffe suggested, Obama has an opportunity to improve his standing among independent voters -- many of whom deserted the Democrats in the 2010 midterm election -- by working with Republicans toward bipartisan deficit-reducti on measures.
+7 # Lolanne 2011-12-06 10:59
//And what will happen then?//
Well, the country will be totally lost. That's what will happen if the Repukes somehow end up in the White House next year. I read so many voices here who are disappointed in Obama, and I include myself among you. BUT I'm not naive enough to think we will be better off putting the Repukes back in office! And that is exactly what you will be helping to do if you vote for a third party candidate. Folks, the only hope here is to keep Obama in and continue supporting OWS in their work to CHANGE THE SYSTEM! We need to boot just about every Rep in Congress out of office, and all the Blue Dogs too, and replace them with progressive Dems. I know the system corrupts even people of honor once they make it to congress, but my fervent hope is that with OWS and the country at their back, shining the light on what Wall St/corporate America are really doing to the country, those in office in the coming years will see that they MUST work to change the corrupt system. Surely there are SOME ethical people of strong character we can elect to Congress who WANT to change it just as we do.
+9 # Texas Aggie 2011-12-06 12:39
Lolanne's comment covered all the bases.

1. Any republican will be much worse than Obama on his worst day.

2. The president as part of the separation of powers can only do so much, so we need to get rid of the legislature that isn't supporting the goals we want to see accomplished.

3. That means primaries and good by to Blue Dogs defined broadly and to republicans to be replaced by Elizabeth Warren lookalikes.
0 # jky1291 2011-12-11 14:36
The fact is that the corporations have already hedged their bets buying both codependent corrupted parties, the Senate, House, Presidency, and Supreme Court. And, their game plan for a second term is already in place, merely repeat the first guaranteeing the status quo which benefits those that perverted the system for their own greedy self interest. Continuing to elect either a Republican or a Democrat for president for decades, which led to the Greatest Recession since the Great Depression, then expecting improvement when it is projected that 6 billion dollars may be spent by the wealthy, special interests, and multinational corporations to buy this election is clearly the definition of insanity. With their success of achieving their stated goal to destroy President Obama's credibility along with his own complicity, I surmised months ago that we would soon observe the Republicans subtly supporting President Obama from a genuine fear that his previous supporters would unite with Independents and enlightened Republicans to elect a real people's president over whom no corporations, special interests, or the wealthy would have more influence than the voters who elected him or her. From their totally unacceptable field of candidates, it is apparent that President Obama is the Republicans real choice, giving only lip service to his constituents, but conceding to their wishes at every opportunity. If one only votes for the lesser of 2 evils the result still cannot be acceptable.
+10 # Clayton Stouffer 2011-12-06 11:44
Progressive Democrats need not be clueless about what to do! Go to: to be directed to the .orgs that on on the front lines of reversing the Supreme Court's treasonous Citizen's United decision. Also, contact Democracy For America (DFA)which is realistically focusing on taking back a progressive majority in the House and Senate as as well as countering the Republican State level effort to block over 5 million democratic voters via new voter regulations.

No reason to stand around being clueless about what action can be taken. Go for it!!!

Going on and on about what a screwed up political/econo mic system we have get you nowhere. Take focused realistic ACTION!

Clay Stouffer
+4 # reiverpacific 2011-12-06 12:26
I think that what Krugman really means is that the backdrop of the silly movie "Idiotocracy" is becoming more like reality, meaning the once-every-four -year-voters who get their news sound-bytes between commercials, sitcoms or big sports (or the shopping channels) and the runners are perfectly awarew of this -indeed encouraging it in all it's tattle and mean-spiritedness.
Substance and true discussion of issues, let alone IDEAS, is the last thing they want!
+5 # Capn Canard 2011-12-06 17:40
Paul Krugman, well done! I've been waiting for far too long for someone to call these two crooks out. And "Herman Cain is like a dog who caught the car he was chasing and now doesn't know what to do with it", SNAP! that is hilarious!

And this part about Newt Gingrich sums up what I've thought of him since I first heard of him: Gingrich " by no means the deep thinker he imagines himself to be, but he's a glib speaker, even when he has no idea what he's talking about."

To me Gingrich has always seemed like a charlatan, a crooked revival preacher, a traveling snake oil salesman, the music man, a confidence man using smoke and mirrors to baffle the faithful conservatives. And it worked! IT STILL WORKS!!

These two ass clowns were leading the polls among the GOP base. You can't make this shit up.
+2 # Bruce Gruber 2011-12-07 11:32
The current media circus and Republican HOOPLA TRUMPeting suggests the power structure and potentially viable Republican candidates - from Jeb to Haley and beyond - decided long ago that Obama is a unique and unbeatable incumbent and their reputations and future potential were not worth throwing away on 2012. Congressional obstructionism and voter suppression are potentially more effective holding actions to prevent runaway progressive reform.
+2 # Pickwicky 2011-12-07 16:42
Contemplating the current lineup of Republicans who are willing to run for President, I can't help but think the best Republicans refused to run because they believe Obama will win. Can't you hear them saying, "Let the dregs take the loss."
Did I hear you say, "What 'best' Republicans?"
+1 # cypress72 2011-12-07 18:51
There's still time for someone to run as an Independent who could shake both parties to the core and draw votes from both. Logon to
-1 # DakotaKid 2011-12-08 14:15
Agree that Obama has been a major disappointment. No doubt that any and all the Republicans in the field would be MUCH worse, however. Proposal: Hillary and Joe Biden trade places. Hillary on the ticket will help Obama win with his dispirited, disillusioned base. Biden will be a decent Secretary of State. Hillary will be positioned to make a run in 2016.
+2 # lionsdenmother 2011-12-08 18:14
Paul asks what happens if the GOP dog metophorically catches the car? WE get another George Bush jr. As he was everything these new contestants are. DUMB as a FOX, and willing to Destroy anyone and anything that stands in the way of making his friends richer.
-1 # Don Thomann 2011-12-09 08:41
"The people get the government they deserve."

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