I usually avoid wasting time talking about political propagandists masquerading as serious public policy analysts. That's why readers of this space and my frequent columns in this newspaper never see the words "Paul Krugman" included in a sentence addressing a coherent argument from either the Right or Left.
Honestly, I wonder if Krugman would recognize a coherent argument, even if it walked up to him on the street and introduced itself. He's in the tank for President Obama, Big Government, suffocating regulation, high taxes, deficit spending, and elitist snobbery as a substitute for serious political thought.
That he has a regular column slot on the New York Times commentary pages and won a Nobel Prize for Economics in 2008 says everything an independent thinker needs to know about the governing intellectual standards of the Times and the Nobel selection committee.
So why am I talking about Krugman here now? Simple, he recently offered an unusually scurrilous attack on somebody who is entirely undeserving of it. And it happens that somebody is a friend of mine, so I am compelled to respond.
Or more accurately to encourage you to click over to The Foundry blog and read my friend Bill Beach's response to Krugman's utterly dishonest multiple recent attacks on him and the Heritage Foundation, for their work for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and his 2012 federal budget proposal.
Please note I described Bill as my friend. I've known him since 1996 and worked with him at the foundation from 1999 to 2006. Bill heads the foundation's Center for Data Analysis. He is my colleague in the Computer-Assisted Investigative Reporting boot camps for journalists on which we have collaborated for a decade.
So, yes, I bring a strong personal bias into this discussion. You can judge for yourself who is being honest and who isn't, starting with Bill's response to Krugman.
Here's why Krugman's attack on Beach has me seeing red: For more than 10 years, he has led CAIR seminars for journalists from virtually every major news organization to help them better understand how to deal with statistics, how to recognize when somebody is playing games with those numbers, and, most importantly, to encourage them to demand of everybody - including people representing Heritage - who claim to use statistical analysis to bolster their advocacy that they "show us your numbers."
That's what Bill does as a matter of routine in his work for Heritage. And it's why, as he explains in his response to Krugman, the Times columnist either purposely misrepresented the facts or didn't bother to seek them out concerning Bill's work and that of Heritage for Ryan in projecting the economic impact of the budget panel chairman's "Roadmap to Prosperity."
As for his assault on Heritage, Krugman's assertion that the foundation is a mere propaganda tool for Washington Republicans demonstrates how little he actually knows about Heritage's relationship with the GOP; otherwise, he would know, to cite just one example, how Heritage opposition to the Prescription Drug entitlement so intensely angered those inside Karl Rove's Strategery.
I would conclude this post by asking if Krugman, like Joe McCarthy, has no shame. But I already know the answer to that question.