Daily Archives: December 31, 2009

Challenges of managing our post-crisis world. Martin Wolf, FT

Useless airport security. Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Bruce Schneier, The Atlantic

Afghanistan: what could work. Rory Stewart, NYRB

Living with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tony Judt, NYRB

Spooked by Islamists. Nick Cohen, Standpoint

A reader’s guide to Thatcherism. Nick Cohen, Standpoint

Lebowski studies. Dwight Garner, NYT. Ties the list together.

Paul Krugman takes me to task for my column offering qualified praise of Obama’s first year. The main criticism I make of Obama in the piece is that he failed to bridge the partisan divide in US politics, and I say that this was partly because he decided early on not to try. Previously, Krugman has not expressed much interest in bridging the divide, but now says the spirit of no compromise was all on the Republican side. Look at health care, he says: this is essentially a Republican plan (cf Massachusetts), and not one Republican has voted for it. What else were the Democrats supposed to do?

Alas, the kind of content-free centrism Crook shows here is all too common. Recent op-eds by William Daley and, of course, David Broder urge Democrats to “move to the center” without saying anything — anything at all — about what that would mean in terms of actual changes in their policy ideas…

[W]hat could Obama and the Democrats have done to reach out? As far as I can tell, the centrists believe that Obama must have done something wrong, because otherwise Republicans would have been more cooperative. But, you know, there’s another interpretation: that what’s really enraging the Republicans is the fact that there’s a Democrat in the White House.

And there’s nothing Obama can do about that.

Well, of course that’s what upsets Republicans. (Remember how Democrats felt about George W. Bush?) But I don’t understand the jibe about content-free centrism. I support this healthcare plan because of its content. That’s content-rich centrism.

Krugman supports the bill as well, even though he regards it as an essentially Republican measure. Interesting for once (off the top of my head I cannot think of another instance) to see him express the view that Republican ideas are not wrong by definition. That’s a breakthrough. If it keeps up, he might soon be judging issues on the merits. What his admirers will make of that, I shudder to think.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

Clive Crook’s blog: A guide

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