THE PLANK AUGUST 21, 2009
From Paul Krugman's column today, which is about the left losing faith in Obama:
And then there’s the matter of the banks.
I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing. But I’ve had many conversations with people who voted for Mr. Obama, yet dismiss the stimulus as a total waste of money. When I press them, it turns out that they’re really angry about the bailouts rather than the stimulus — but that’s a distinction lost on most voters.
Krugman is conflating a bunch of different things here. Is he saying that people would be more pro-stimulus if the administration had been tougher with the banks? He then adds:
So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.
But what does this have to do with the stimulus, or the banks? Moreover, for the first time in a long time, Krugman is displaying sympathy for voters who are completely clueless (i.e. voters who think the stimulus and the bank bailouts are the same thing). On health care, or Iraq, or tax cuts, there is no way that Krugman would show such understanding. When people are completely uninformed about policy, following their lead is probably not the wisest course.