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Why Oh Why

Can’t we have a better press corpse?

Athenae’s right, as usual. And frankly, the whole thing makes me sick. Because as nauseating as the whole thing is, the double standard is even worse.

There is an anonymously sourced but on the record story out there (I can’t even get into my old archives or I’d dig it out for you) in which Newt Gingrich – the darling of network news shows – was allegedly getting a BJ from a staffer in the front seat of his car, in daylight, while waiting to pick up his kid from school. During the Clinton impeachment trial.

The timing seems to indicate that the staffer was his most recent (and suddenly quite Catholic) wife.

Did you ever read it on the front page? Heard about it on the talk shows? Nope. Wonder why? This is what a well-trained corporate news editor would call it: “Old news, let’s move on.”

But I thought it was a character issue. I know because the teevee told me so! And yet, contrary to the indoctrination, I really and truly don’t care what two consenting adults do with each other’s genitalia. In fact, I can think of few things more deserving of privacy.

I don’t care that John Edwards cheated on his wife; it’s between him and his wife. Bill Clinton, too. I liked their ideas. When I go into the voting booth, I’m not voting for priest or pope, I’m voting to support a specific set of policies. If I get to feel good about the person for whom I pull the lever, or even inspired, well, that’s gravy.

But the circus goes on.

President Newt

Charles Pierce is just as thrilled to read the praises of Newt Gingrich as I am…

I think that the Parson Meacham over at Newsweek may have set the Sucking Up To Vicious Idiots bar so high that in response, Time may blow out an ACL trying to get over it. How else to explain publishing, this brimming swine-trough of lies, phony history, pious nonsense, and disingenuous twaddle promoted by the single most duplicitous piece of pond-scum ever to be burped up along the Potomac? Newt Gingrich on the blessings of bipartisanship? Why not Newt Gingrich on how to support your wives in time of illness? There has to have been someone in the upper echelons of Time who said, “Look, folks, before we all go get lunch at 21, how’s about we talk again about printing something that is the exact equivalent of publishing a treatise on thoracic surgery written by Charlie Manson?”

Was everybody there drunk? Stoned? Out of town early for the weekend?

The persistence of the notion of Newt Gingrich, Political Genius, or of Newt Gingrich, Transformational Figure—or, in fact, any notion save that of Newt Gingrich, Opportunistic Hack–is going to puzzle scholars for centuries. Anyway, here’s a little something from last week, proving that he’s still a blight and that Time needs editors who aren’t so easily conned out of their money.

Krugman

Interesting profile of Krugman in the New Yorker. I knew they worked together on writing textbooks, but I didn’t realize his wife Robin had so much influence on his columns – go figure!

Krugman doesn’t know how long he’ll be writing his column. Maybe he’ll get tired of it, maybe the Times will kick him out, who knows. But, after the column, then what? He’s checked off pretty much all the career boxes, he reckons. There are some big questions in development that he’d like to think seriously about. “How is it that most of the world remains so poor?” he says. “That was the old mystery. The new mystery is ‘Why is it that every once in a while it’s as if somebody turned on a switch and some previously hapless country suddenly goes soaring?’ ”

But it’s been a long time—years now—since he did any serious research. Could he, still? “I’d like to get back to it,” he says. “I’m craving the chance to do some deep thinking, and I haven’t been doing a lot of that. I guess doing the really creative academic work does require a state of mind that’s hard to maintain throughout your whole life. Even Paul Samuelson—the bulk of the stuff you read from him is before he was fifty. There was an intensity of focus that I had when I was twenty-six that I won’t be able to recapture at fifty-six. You develop your habits of mind, and to a point that’s a good thing, because you learn ways to work, but it does mean that you’re less likely to come up with something really innovative. Even if I weren’t doing all this other stuff, I don’t think I’d be producing a lot of breakthrough papers. There’s crude stuff: if I do have some brilliant academic insight, what are they going to do, give me a Nobel Prize? . . . When I was younger, when I figured something out there was this sense of the heavens parting and the choirs singing that I don’t get now. And that’s life.”

For someone else, this loss might be a devastation, but even though for thirty years thinking deeply about economics was all Krugman really cared about, he has let it pass out of his life without regret. “I think he’s happy,” his friend Craig Murphy says. “A much happier person now than when we first met him. He feels like he’s done good things, and they’re greater than what he expected when he was young. If there is sadness in him at all, I think it is a tiny core of profound sadness of the kind that the Buddha understood—that we probably can’t use human rationality to make the world all better, and it would be really nice if we were able to.”

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