Stanford's David M. Kennedy reveals that he is a serious contender for the "Stupidest Man Alive" title. Let's roll the tape: the start of his review of Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal:
Malefactors of Megawealth: Paul Krugman is a justly renowned professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. His abundant accolades include the John Bates Clark Medal... a distinction... perhaps even more prestigious than... the Nobel.... [Y]et maybe Krugman is not really an economist — at least not according to the definition offered more than a century ago by Francis Amasa Walker, the first president of the American Economic Association, who wrote that laissez-faire “was... used to decide whether a man were an economist at all.” Most modern economists continue to celebrate Walker’s orthodoxy, and behind it, the classical doctrines of Adam Smith, whose fabled “invisible hand” regularly works wonders of production, distribution, innovation and efficiency, provided it is kept free of the meddlesome “nanny state.”... Krugman [is] the anti-economist...
David Kennedy thus demonstrates that he (a) has never read Adam Smith, and (b) has little acquaintance with modern American economists--who are (like Adam Smith) much more interested in prescribing how the nanny state should meddle to be effective than in protecting the naked market from interference.
Equally bizarre is the end of Kennedy's review:
Like the rants of Rush Limbaugh or the films of Michael Moore, Krugman’s shrill polemic may hearten the faithful, but it will do little to persuade the unconvinced or to advance the national discussion of the important issues it addresses...
David Kennedy thus demonstrates his allegiance to those who have never had substantive arguments to make in reply to Paul Krugman's arguments, and hence have no move to make save the rhetorical one of dismissing him as "shrill." Because, of course, David Kennedy had just before admitted that Krugman is right on the substance:
That assorted wing nuts have pretty much managed to hijack the Republican Party in recent years is scarcely in doubt. That the market is at least occasionally fallible is also not at issue. Nor is it deniable that the New Deal rendered the lives of millions of Americans more secure, and that they have become markedly less so.... Krugman’s chapter on the imperative need for health care reform is the best in this book...
And Paul Krugman replies:
Continuing the tradition: Well, I’ve gotten a dismissive review in the NYT. It’s sort of a tradition. After all, The Great Unraveling received an equally dismissive review from Peter Beinart, in which he portrayed my conclusion that the Bush administration deliberately misled us into war as a crazy conspiracy theory, and contained this immortal pronouncement:
But most Americans do not consider the Bush administration corrupt, and Paul Krugman cannot convincingly prove it is.
I think David Kennedy’s review will hold up about as well as Peter Beinart’s. I presented facts on voting behavior, which point to the centrality of race — he ignores them. I presented polling evidence about the timing and role of the perception that Democrats are weak on national security; he just waves it away.
Oh, and when Kennedy says, to illustrate my alleged factual problems, that
Kansas, whatever its other crimes and misdemeanors, is not customarily regarded as the birthplace of Prohibition
you have to ask who’s got the factual problems. I don’t know what “customarily regarded” means, but Carrie Nation wielded her ax in Kansas - and Kansas was the first state to ban alcohol in its constitution.