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People Are Talking About How Great Andrew Sullivan's "The Dish" Was...: Live from La Farine

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Many, many are saying complimentary things. From Sullivan himself comes a much worth-reading self pat-on-the-back about what he regards as his many, many successes intermixed with a cri de coeur about his mistakes in The Arc Of The Dish 2000-2015. IMHO, he pulls a number of punches in his self-criticism, but "my own traumatized loss of judgment... shameful outbursts... my colossal failure of judgment..." is much further than most people go.


Sullivan asks: "What was your favorite moment of Dishness?".

My answer is that when I think of The Dish, I find I don't have a favorite moment. I think of the incompleteness of Andrew Sullivan's self-criticism. I think of him casting himself as Curly of The Three Stooges in his enthusiastic prosecution of the intellectual War on Paul Krugman that, IIRC, began in 2001 with things like:

November 13, 2001: My revulsion at Paul Krugman’s increasingly hysterical attacks on the good faith of this administration...

May 11, 2001: NOSTRADAMUS AWARD: “Ah, but the details. The Krugmans and the Chaits will shortly have a cow, if not a whole herd of them.”... last week. “The Bush Tax Cut Is A Lie--Part I”--by Paul Krugman, The New Republic, this week. “The Bush Tax Cut Is A Lie--Part II”--by Jonathan Chait, The New Republic, same issue. Honest, I had no idea when I wrote my piece.

And, of course, the promises of and forecasts by the Bush administration of the consequences of passing its tax cut did not come true--and if Andrew Sullivan thought in 2001 that it was aimed at improving the lives of "waitress moms", he was the only one.

But the fact that, in general in the 2000s, Paul Krugman was right did not keep Sullivan from continuing to carry on his long, doomed, twilight struggle against realistic assessments of the economic situation. For example:

JUN 21, 2010: The Smug Condescension Of Paul Krugman: Kinsley takes aim:

Krugman himself looks at CBO projections of deficits declining from 10 percent of GDP now to four percent in 2014 before starting to rise again, and concedes that this is 'not enough.' Then he cavalierly says that all you need to solve the problem is (a) to bring health costs under control, and (b) a five-percent value added tax. Oh, is that all? I have no doubt that if Paul Krugman were economic dictator, we could impose these or other solutions. In the real world (or should I say 'unreal world') of current American politics, either one of these partial solutions is unthinkable without a catastrophic crisis to force our hand.

How hard is that to understand?

Well, Paul Krugman's forecast of what would happen to the deficit was correct. We have--at least for now--health-care costs under control without a catastrophic crisis. Not a value-added tax but a carbon tax is definitely on the agenda for 2021 if not 2017. Tuesday night George W. Bush's first Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Glenn Hubbard, was speaking besides me and pushing for not a value-added but for the enormous broadening of the tax base that comes from a shift to a consumption tax. And this morning Republican Committee Chairs Burr, Hatch, and Upton called for moving an ever-increasing share of the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance into the tax base as well.

Looks to me--just like back in 2001--like Krugman 3, Kinsley and Sullivan 0.

And it is not as though that piece is an outlier. A quick search through the Dish's archives for most recent mentions of Krugman pulls up these recent headlines:

  • Krugman’s Dick Morris Award
  • Krugman’s Own Moment of Truthiness
  • Pwning Krugman
  • Ask Veronique [Rugy] Anything: How Is Krugman Wrong?
  • Ron Paul vs Paul Krugman
  • Hey, Paul Krugman!
  • The Smug Condescension of Paul Krugman
  • Krugman vs Summers--and Obama
  • Krugman: Wrong on Ireland?
  • Krugman and Frum, Together at Last
  • Krugman vs Krugman
  • Krugman Should Stop Digging

The "Dick Morris Award" is not complimentary. And somehow I think "Krugman and Frum, Together At Last" is intended to be as uncomplimentary as Sullivan's November 2001 rhetorical attribution to Paul of a disordered womb was intended to be.

My bottom line: Dean Wormer and Spiderman did not say: great rhetorical powers and influence used irresponsibly is no way to go through life...