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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Explaining Mahathir's Motivations

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive (along with here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.), and it's certainly a subjective interpretation, but if Krugman had written the following paragraph I would have considered the tone and gist to be almost exactly identical to what he did write:
Mahathir's "remarks are inexcusable", but hey, he is "as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we're likely to find", his anti-semitism is perfectly rational given the current state of affairs (you'd do the same thing if you were in his shoes), it's really no big deal and we need to support him, so get over it.

Though I agree that Krugman knows and admits that Mahathir is anti-semitic, I find it unacceptable that Krugman downplays the potential impact of Mahathir's anti-semitism and implies (in my subjective perception) that we should just ignore it and continue to support him.

I wish Krugman would stick to economics and stay away from other policy issues (where he knows no more than any of the rest of us). I often agree with his economic analysis and sometimes even learn new things, but I think that most of the rest of his columns, like the one we're currently discussing, are at best, weak.

As far as his economic columns go, I'm usually surprised at the intensity of criticism he has of the Bush administration. Krugman is a 'tax and spend' democrat, Bush is a 'don't tax but still spend' republican. They overlap completely on the 'spend' part, so I'm surprised their relationship isn't more collaborative. Personally, I would like to try a 'don't tax and don't spend' leader, but we've never had one of those.

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