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As the Village Voice’s Nick Greene summed it up: ”I need to get something off my chest today, but you can’t.”
Blogger Ed Morrissey added that Krugman’s post was “so trite, sad, and clichéd that it’s hardly worth the effort to rebut. He’s mailing this in from 2003.” In fact, I found exactly the post from September 11, 2003, that captures the sentiments Krugman expressed this year. It came from a young Josh Marshall, proprietor of TalkingPointsMemo.com, who described his reaction to a CNN documentary two years after 9/11:
Watching brought me back to the newness and rawness of those first hours and days.…I thought [President Bush] served admirably in those first days.
As the documentary moved toward the aftermath, I wondered whether those thoughts of mine would seep into the present to color what’s happening today.
What I felt wasn’t continuity but the jarring contrast, the cheap, obvious lies, the hubris, the tough-talk for low ends, not so much the mistakes as the tawdriness of so much of what’s happened, especially over the last eighteen months.
Marshall weighed in again this September 11, with considerably more maturity than Krugman. Avoiding the temptation “to relitigate Iraq,” he instead poignantly observed that the 9/11 attacks were “simply too much barbarity and aggression with too few to punish”:
The immediate perpetrators died in the attacks, embracing and thus stealing away from us whatever degree of punishment was possible. And while there were many more people planning, working money transfers and providing other kinds of support, still…relative to the enormity of the violation, just too few. It goes to a primitive part of ourselves. But you could hunt down and kill every one of them and somehow it still wouldn’t be enough.
That may explain why, even a decade later, someone like Krugman sees 9/11 as an occasion to lash out at his domestic political opponents. “Everybody’s angry, to judge from my email,” wrote blogger Glenn Reynolds, who offered some advice: “Don’t be angry. Understand it for what it is, an admission of impotence from a sad and irrelevant little man.”
Indeed. The 9/11 post was monstrous, but it was trivial in equal measure. Paul Krugman is history’s smallest monster.