November 9, 2009

Hofstadter Again

Paul Krugman invokes the ghost of Richard Hofstadter. Hofstadter was a Columbia historian who wrote an essay on "The Paranoid Style in American Politics."

A reaction to the perceived abused of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Hofstadter's essay was a middlebrow version of the Frankfurt School's "authoritarian personality" concept. In essence, the argument is that the people whose views one dislikes aren't mistaken or even corrupt, but crazy.

It seems that the voting cattle of the Republican Party, whom their pro-corporate leaders regularly betrayed or ignored, are taking over the ranch. Krugman, seeing rising unemployment and the retreat into the woodwork of the non-white and youthful voting cattle of the Democrats, fears the GOP will make gains in 2010, but becoming the party of no, as in California. Krugman of course ignores the fact that the Democrats in California bear a big share of the responsibility for the state's fiscal disaster.

There's not much to like about the current GOP, other than the fact that they vote "no," often a good idea. But they aren't crazy.

The accusation is vicious and unsupported, and the Dems aren't models of probity and wisdom. Krugman has a log in his eye.

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