The Peter Diamond scandal

Peter Diamond’s decision to withdraw from contention for a seat on the Fed board is a very low moment in US politics. Diamond is an indisputably brilliant economist with no ideological baggage and highly relevant expertise–contrary to what his GOP critics say, and as he explains in his NYT article.  It ought to be shocking, but it no longer is, that a man of his distinction could not get confirmed to the position. At times the US seems a country hell-bent on its own failure.

It’s enough to make Paul Krugman regret the “polarisation of our politics”. Not something you see every day. Or am I misreading him?

The thing is, the Fed was supposed to be above and aside from the partisan brawl. It never was, completely — but that was an ideal to be striven for. No more.

Was that really an ideal to be striven for until just now? On the view that one side in US politics is irredeemably evil and the other basically right about everything–on Krugman’s view, I mean–why would one want the Fed to avoid taking sides? That’s the kind of thing you’d expect a feeble centrist to say. You know the type.

I expect Paul is expressing nostalgia for a long-vanished past. In that case, though, he can hardly criticise the GOP for today’s partisan brawling. That’s what Washington is for nowadays, is it not–a fight to the finish by any means necessary? It is the one thing the two tribes seem to agree about.

God help the country.

 

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This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.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

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