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Ear to the Ground

Scheer Trumps Krugman in Stockman Debate

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Posted on Apr 11, 2013
renaissancechambara (CC BY 2.0)

Journalist Mike Whitney praised the Truthdig editor in chief for being “the only voice on the left” to defend former Reagan budget director David Stockman against an “army of toffeenose pundits” who failed to honor the essential truth of Stockman’s controversial New York Times op-ed.

In his Times article, Stockman criticized the Obama administration for overseeing an economic stimulus program that has rewarded and maintained the country’s noxious system of crony casino capitalism and done virtually nothing for unprivileged Americans. For a number of reasons—some fair—Stockman caught censure from the vast majority of the professional commenters, some of whom snickeringly called him “unhinged” and other not-so-nice epithets.

Said liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman of Stockman’s letter:

I was disappointed in Stockman’s piece. I thought there would be some kind of real argument, some presentation, however tendentious, of evidence. Instead it’s just a series of gee-whiz, context- and model-free numbers embedded in a rant — and not even an interesting rant. It’s cranky old man stuff, the kind of thing you get from people who read Investors Business Daily, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and maybe, if they’re unusually teched up, get investment advice from Zero Hedge.

Scheer disagreed with Krugman and company, and underlined the “real argument” they seem to have missed:

The headline on Stockman’s piece—“State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America”—is unquestionably accurate…..What his critics find so disturbing is not a quaint argument about the purity of monetary policy but rather the bold assertion that the overall American system of crony capitalism is in fact wrecked. This is a contention that most Americans might readily agree with in terms of their daily experience, but one that the hardly suffering pundit class would rather not contemplate…

Bernanke, who throws $85 billion a month at the bankers who caused this mess, purchasing their toxic mortgage based derivatives, is still treated with respect. But Stockman, who opposed bailing out the banks so they, like those tens of millions of foreclosed homeowners, could learn a tough love lesson in real economics, is now an object of derision…

That fiasco’s enablers—Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers—and the more disastrous ones to follow were crowned “The Committee to Save the World” on Time magazine’s Feb. 15, 1999, cover and are still welcomed in those polite circles where truth-teller Stockman is being treated as a pariah.”

Scheer’s defense did not go unappreciated. “The attacks on Stockman have come from all quarters of the liberal establishment,” journalist Mike Whitney wrote Thursday at CounterPunch. “Much to his credit, Robert Scheer has veered from the party-line and defended the ex-budget director in a recent column at Truthdig. ...

“Not surprisingly, Scheer has been the only voice on the left to take Stockman’s side against the army of toffeenose pundits and establishment dipshits who wave off the concerns of ordinary people as—how does Krugman put it?—‘pathetic and embarrassing.’ ”

The occasion for Whitney’s commendation was Stockman’s appearance on the latest segment of ABC’s “This Week,” hosted by George Stephanopoulos. From that round-table debate, which included Krugman, Arianna Huffington, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren and George Will, Stockman emerged as the undisputed victor by exposing the crux of America’s political crisis with statements such as:

I think the machinery of government is failing. That’s the problem we face. A real threat to the mainstream economy.

… The (Democrats) don’t stand for anything. They don’t believe in anything. Why do we still have Too Big to Fail? We allegedly had a heart attack, the banks are bigger than ever. Why don’t Democrats do something to break them up and cut Wall Street down to size?”

Read Whitney’s full praise of Scheer and the rest of his defense of Stockman here.

Stockman’s tenacious, no-nonsense stand against Washington’s pro-Wall Street policy in the face of a torrent of professional criticism netted him Truthdig’s Truthdigger of the Week award Saturday.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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