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Niall Ferguson: A Well-Rounded Hack


Brad DeLong has some fun with Niall Ferguson’s latest round of dishonest arguments in favor of austerity.

As a bonus, in the original op-ed Ferguson feels the need to run off a lot of clock before getting to these howlers about the non-existent “debt crisis.” First, we get some takes on the current affairs of the day that were presumably written for Cokie Roberts but rejected for being too banal and witless. (“Ted Cruz read from Dr. Seuss which is the biggest problem with him, and since it was a quasi-filibuster let’s cite Mr. Smith Goes to Washington although it’s both cliched and not really accurate. Obama’s like Hamlet –geddit?”) And then, Ferguson explains that Obama is failing to lead, with leadership:

According to conventional wisdom, the key to what is going on is a Republican Party increasingly at the mercy of the tea party. I agree that it was politically inept to seek to block ObamaCare by these means. This is not the way to win back the White House and Senate But responsibility also lies with the president, who has consistently failed to understand that a key function of the head of the executive branch is to twist the arms of legislators on both sides. It was not the tea party that shot down Mr. Summers’s nomination as Fed chairman; it was Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the new face of the American left.

The amount of hackery contained in this short paragraph is kind of an impressive accomplishment. First, you have the green laternism. The green lanternism is used to invoke a both-sides-do-it-ism that is obviously inaccurate. And then, you have the fact that someone is not going to be nominated to the Fed mentioned as if it’s remotely relevant to the Republican hostage-taking crisis. It’s a non-sequitur on multiple levels. Larry Summers not being nominated to the Fed isn’t a sign of dysfunction. A president listening to members of his own party about who to nominate to important positions is neither unusual nor bad. And how does Summers’s withdrawal prove that Obama could get House Republicans to sign on to his agenda if he really wanted to, exactly? Just what we needed, a right-wing Drew Westen.

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