One of the most disappointing casualties of this protracted primary has been a large measure of my respect for NY Times columnist Paul Krugman. I've very much enjoyed his work over the last several years, but his willingness to pulverize Barack Obama in every single column for the last several months, sometimes on the weakest of pretenses, coupled with his unwillingness either to castigate Clinton or otherwise to just come out and say he supports Clinton, is really irritating.
Most irritating of all, however, is writing an article attacking Obama on a number of different points, every single one of which apply to Clinton as well.
Take today's column, for example. Krugman argues that, if Obama can't defeat Clinton with his big cash advantage and with everything having heard his case and with substantial establishment support, then he's a weak candidate and Democrats should be worried that he can't beat McCain.
Yet it was Hillary Clinton who began the race with universal name recognition, a huge cash advantage she inherited from her senate re-election warchest and Bill's fundraising, and 150 free superdelegates earned before a single vote had been counted. It looks to me like, of the two of them, Obama has been by far the better at "knocking out" his opponent. Others in the media are pointing out today that the results of Pennsylvania's primary actually left her less likely than ever to win the primary because she needed a huge win and didn't get it. Try as she might, she just can't make headway on Barack's delegate lead. The Wall Street Journal flatly asserted that the primary, for all intents and purposes, is over, and that it will be McCain vs. Obama in November, one way or another.
Krugman also argues that Obama's soaring rhetoric means "not much" to working families, judging from Ohio and PA (I guess there isn't a large number of working families in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Alabama, or Missouri). Can we not argue by the same token Colorado and DC proved that Clinton has failed to endear herself to college graduates and young people, and has actually burned her bridges with the African American community?
Why does Obama keep losing "big states," you ask? This is not a difficult question, Paul. Both candidates are extremely strong. Democrats really like both candidates. They both can raise a ton of cash and have locked down support in various sections of the Democratic electorate. And both are (now) liked by the establishment.
Clinton is loved among working class, less educated people and older Dems, so she does well in Appalachia, and she's also nursed a great relationship with the Hispanic community, putting her in a strong position in the Southwest. Obama has captured the hearts of African Americans, giving him a virtual stranglehold over the South, but also is respected and trusted among people on the ideological periphery of both parties, port side, starboard, and under the main mast, making him an unusually strong competitor in the Great Plains and Mountain West. Both candidates are too good to lose any of their demographic strongholds, so they trade victories depending entirely on which populations comprise the largest percentage of a given state's voters.
These are simple and obvious realities, and if Krugman were an honest player in this discussion he would see them plain as day. I expected a lot more of him than this.