Monday, June 11, 2007

Krugman pleading for a real campaign

Paul Krugman focuses today on the media's resort to the maddening and distracting quality of "authenticity" in presidential candidates to the exclusion of analysis of their policies and motivations. The superficial analysis that enabled Bush to skate by Gore. The mindless focus on appearances that are so easily manipulated by crafty campaign consultants combined with a candidate who has moderate acting abilities. Speaking of which...come on down, Fred Thompson:
On the other hand, consider the case of Fred Thompson. He spent 18 years working as a highly paid lobbyist, wore well-tailored suits and drove a black Lincoln Continental. When he ran for the Senate, however, his campaign reinvented him as a good old boy: it leased a used red pickup truck for him to drive, dressed up in jeans and a work shirt, with a can of Red Man chewing tobacco on the front seat.

But Mr. Thompson’s strength, says Lanny Davis in The Hill, is that he’s “authentic.”

Oh, and as a candidate George W. Bush was praised as being more authentic than Al Gore. As late as November 2005, MSNBC’s chief political correspondent declared that Mr. Bush’s authenticity was his remaining source of strength. But now The A.P. says that Mr. Bush’s lack of credibility is the reason his would-be successors need to seem, yes, authentic.
Giuliani's supposed credibility on the terrorism issue also comes in for fire by Krugman, as it too has been placed up there on a pedestal as one of those candidate myths that the media's perpetuating without proper attention to his actions that day and since:
And where do you start with Rudy Giuliani? We keep being told that he has credibility on national security, because he seemed so reassuring on 9/11. (Some firefighters have condemned his actual performance that day, saying that rescue efforts were uncoordinated and that firemen died because he provided them with faulty radios. “All he did was give information on the TV,” said a deputy fire chief whose son died at the World Trade Center. “He did nothing.” And the nation’s largest firefighters’ union has condemned his handling of recovery efforts in the weeks following 9/11.)

But he’s spent the years since then cashing in on terrorism, and his decisions about Giuliani Partners’ personnel and clients raise real questions about his seriousness. His partners, as The Washington Post pointed out, included “a former police commissioner later convicted of corruption, a former F.B.I. executive who admitted taking artifacts from ground zero and a former Roman Catholic priest accused of covering up sexual abuse in the church.”
Hey, now that's the kind of detail that sounds pretty authentic to me! Another worthy effort by Krugman to stave off the free passes to candidates this time round.