Not exactly true, but in the summer of 2016 as close to a breakdown as we’re going to get.
The New York Times’ Nobel-winning economist has not been shy about his preferences in the coming elections. He admits that Mrs. Clinton has hurt herself almost daily, just as Donald Trump has. But beneath the offering of one’s heart to a villain, Mrs. Clinton has a record of accomplishment, of wanting to do the right things that Trump cannot challenge. In fact, Mr. Trump has a record of accomplishment that reeks.
No smoking gun has been found, no pay-for-play covered – yet – in Mrs. Clinton’s term as Secretary of State nor afterwards, as a partner in the Clinton Foundation. As he suggests in the pages of Times, “So I would urge journalists to ask whether they are reporting facts or simply engaging in innuendo, and urge the public to read with a critical eye. If reports about a candidate talk about how something ‘raises questions,’ creates ‘shadows,’ or anything similar, be aware that these are all too often weasel words used to create the impression of wrong-doing out of thin air.”
Mr. Krugman is finally worried. For twelve months he’s been denigrating Mr. Trump (rightfully, we think) in terms of his platform (nonexistent), his putative tax plans (more trickledown), his lack of interest in, and lack of talent for, learning anything about the country he seeks to lead. “Mr. Trump’s record of bilking students, stiffing contractors and more is a good indicator of how he’d act as president.”
“In other words, focus on the facts. America and the world can’t afford another election tipped by innuendo.”
Maybe not. But that’s what we’re getting. There are no hard and true facts about Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server, whether or not pay-for-play is ever found. There is no way of trying to estimate in advance how Donald Trump will behave should he be elected. “No one knows the system better than I,” he says. “Which is why I alone can fix it.” That would be entertaining if it weren’t also frightening.
Having ended another twenty-four hour time-lock with various pundits and columnists on radio, television, and in the black-and-white press, we think most citizens have now turned off nearly entirely. Their minds have been made up, one way or the other. What we hear each hour on the hour now is a cacophony of surrogates and partisans trying to outshout each other so that, in the end, no one at all knows anything more than when he/she tuned in.
What seems finally to be clear to Mr. Krugman is that Trumpistas are immovable. Nothing the Donald does will dissuade them. And everything that Mrs. Clinton does is seen as shady. In the latter case, we have nothing but perception of unease and dishonesty. In the former nothing but bravado and hokem.
Mr. Krugman’s expertise and history of calling ’em as he sees ‘em are of no value in these next eight weeks. We think he knows this. Mr. Trump is no economist and probably not even conversant with the matters that occupy Mr. Krugman’s waking hours. And his followers certainly aren’t.
This election is now being run on whispers and hints, on forwarded text messages and cartoons. The Daily News is as intuitive as The New Yorker. There is no reality in discussions of commander-in-chief, no apparent worrying about checks and balances, about the Supreme Court, about the Senate. Some of this may change as younger voters begin to understand the stakes at hand.
This is not an election about race, or class. It’s an election about making damned sure we all get what’s been promised us. Whichever candidate can out-silver the other wins.
Mr. Krugman has begun to worry that, in this case, no one wins. He’s right.