Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Overheated Rhetoric in the Political Arena

David Brooks states the obvious - that overblown and intemperate attacks on Bush, as with those carried out on Clinton by Republicans, are wrong-headed and counterproductive, even if they happen to feel good. There is nothing like the sort of brazenly partisan hectoring from the sidelines one has seen and heard throughout the last 11 years to send those who might otherwise have been swayed reeling backwards in revulsion at the carpers.

Partisan criticism, like most other commodities, is a normal good, falling in value as supply increases; the problem for would-be partisans is that demand for criticism is highly inelastic, so that the total effect actually diminishes as it rises beyond a certain quantity. Pundits like Krugman, Dowd and the rest would actually be more effective in their attacks if they bothered to acknowledge that not everything this administration has done has been incompetent or malevolent. They could learn a thing or two from Tom Friedman in this respect - one has to give the devil his due, if one wishes to be taken seriously.