Krugman: Republican Party has ‘emotional maturity of bratty 13-year-old’

By John Byrne
Monday, October 5, 2009 8:39 EDT
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Paul Krugman is known for his thoughtful, liberal-leaning columns on economic policy. On Monday, however, he went for the jugular.

“The modern conservative movement,” Krugman declared, “which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.”

Krugman penned the line in response to what he called “puerile” tactics of GOP partisans who cheered the failure of Chicago to win the 2016 Summer Olympic games.

“‘Cheers erupted’ at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline ‘Obama loses! Obama loses!’” Krugman wrote. “Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report.”

The columnist injected the comparison into a more general argument about political pragmatics governing the healthcare reform debate in Washington. When it comes to reforming US healthcare, Krugman says the Republican Party has been more focused on defeating any Democratic plan on political grounds rather than on ideological ones.

It’s understandable that many Republicans oppose Democratic plans to extend insurance coverage — just as most Democrats opposed President Bush’s attempt to convert Social Security into a sort of giant 401(k). The two parties do, after all, have different philosophies about the appropriate role of government.

But the tactics of the two parties have been different. In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against Social Security privatization, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.

The Republican campaign against health care reform, by contrast, has shown no such consistency. For the main G.O.P. line of attack is the claim — based mainly on lies about death panels and so on — that reform will undermine Medicare. And this line of attack is utterly at odds both with the party’s traditions and with what conservatives claim to believe.

“The key point is that ever since the Reagan years,” Krugman opines, “the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.”

Krugman’s full column is available here.

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