Paul Krugman observes:
Not Everything Is Political: Clive Crook demands that I engage respectfully with reasonable people on the other side, but somehow fails to offer even one example of such a person. Not long ago Crook was offering Paul Ryan as an exemplar of serious, honest conservatism, while I was shrilly declaring Ryan a con man. But I suspect that even Crook now admits, at least to himself, that Ryan is indeed a con man…
So who are the "thoughtful, public-spirited Americans whose views on the proper scale and scope of government are different from his, yet worthy of respect"?
I sent the RAs through the last six months of Clive Crook's columns. Here's what they found, all that they found:
No mention of the House Budget Chair, Paul Ryan. So not Paul Ryan.
Does Mitt Romney qualify? Nope:
Clive Crook (October 30, 2012): In 2013 [a President Romney] would at least have to go through the motions of making common cause with Republicans in Congress. That’s an alarming prospect. If the choice is between an empowered Republican party in its present radicalized form and continued paralysis, I’d reluctantly choose paralysis [and support Obama]…
Clive Crook (November 7, 2012): It’s good that there’ll be no Romney administration intent on dismantling health-care reform -- an important achievement which, if implemented well, Americans will eventually come to admire…
Not David Stockman:
Clive Crook (April 5, 2013): David Stockman has a reputation, acquired during that spell at the OMB, for speaking truth to power. That’s rare enough in Washington to leave a lasting impression. He’s unusually smart. His judgments of people he disagrees with, a group which includes almost everybody, range from memorably blunt to gratuitously offensive. That works, too…. Stockman is nominally a Republican, but his party disgusts him as much as the Democratic Party. There’s no partisan rancor in the book: It’s sustained and intense, but entirely nonpartisan. The book closes with Stockman’s prescription. Put the dollar back on the gold standard. Move to a form of “narrow banking.” Amend the Constitution to provide for single six-year terms for all members of Congress and the president; outlaw most private political spending; forbid former holders of federal office from lobbying; and balance the federal budget on a two- year cycle. Oh, and no more macroeconomic management. Abolish subsidies. Abolish Medicare and Medicaid. Abolish the income tax, replacing it with a tax on spending. Eliminate “much of the federal government.” Slash the defense budget and stop policing the world. Impose -- get this -- a one-time wealth tax of 30 percent to pay down the national debt once and for all. It really doesn’t do this view justice to call it utopian. It’s so flamboyantly impossible, it’s unhinged. Like Paul, Stockman is self-sufficient in his pessimism. Yes, he smiles, we’re doomed - - and if you should ever doubt it, here’s what it would take to save us. The scope of the critique, while crazy, is undeniably impressive."
Apparently it is Alan Simpson:
Clive Crook (November 20, 2012): the country needs what it has needed for the past few years: a grand fiscal bargain. Call it Simpson-Bowles for slow learners. Eventually, Congress and the administration will get around to the plan put forward by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, or something close, because in the end they will have no choice.
And John Boehner, and John McCain:
Clive Crook (February 13, 2013: Did you notice how for much of the speech Representative John Boehner, leader of the House Republicans, seated just behind the president, felt constrained to applaud?… Last night he used the term “entitlement reform” -- calling it necessary, mind you, rather than using it to heap contempt on those who advocate it. For his benchmark on Medicare savings, he cited (pinch me) the Simpson-Bowles commission, exemplar of centrist common sense on the budget, despised by hard-liners of all kinds. Last night, he needled Republicans only when his point was incontestable and when he knew, as a result, that the country would agree. For instance: “The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America.” That doesn’t seem too much to ask. Bipartisan Initiative On climate change, he applauded an earlier bipartisan initiative led by Senator John McCain, his Republican opponent in the 2008 election, though the prospects for meaningful action there seem limited. Not so on gun control and immigration, two other leading themes, where the president sees a chance for agreement."
Those are very, very thin pickings.
If Clive Crook can't mention any people who think differently than Paul Krugman but are thoughtful and public spirited and worthy of respect in six months…
Any candidates for reasonable interlocutors on the other side?
UPDATE: Ryan Cooper has a list of fifteen--but none of them, in Crook's eyes, worth citing in his Bloomberg columns:
Reformish Conservatives: In 2005, former Reagan Treasury official and Jack Kemp acolyte Bruce Bartlett questioned the fiscal rectitude of the Republicans for, among other things, adding an expensive new entitlement, Medicare Part D, without budget cuts or tax increases to offset the massive new costs. For his temerity, his employer, the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free market think tank, fired him. Five years later, conservative journalist and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum criticized Republicans for failing to negotiate with Democrats on Obamacare; he too lost his job, at the American Enterprise Institute. Most of the conservative journalists and writers who make up the reformist camp today—people like Ramesh Ponnuru and Reihan Salam of the National Review, Ross Douthat of the New York Times, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner, and Yuval Levin of National Affairs—have been more tentative and selective… three articles bashing liberal statism for every one questioning Republican dogma. To retain an audience among Republicans, one must be “considerate of the contours of conservative opinion,” Ponnuru told me…. It is easy, however, to exaggerate their influence. “There is a cultural gulf,” says John Feehery, a former staffer for Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert, between the reformist writer-intellectuals, with their New York/Washington sensibilities, and Republican officeholders, with their base of voters in Texas, Kansas, and Georgia. The reformists “are speaking the language of policy,” notes Feehery, while the base “is speaking the language of hating Obama.”…
JOSH BARRO…. 28…. “Conservatives’ first preference is to get government out of the way; their second preference seems to be government cutting checks indiscriminately.” Reformist score: 9. Influence inside GOP: 2.
BRUCE BARTLETT…. 61…. “Unless the Republican Party can move beyond its base, it faces political euthanasia down the road.” Reformist score: 9. Influence inside GOP: 2.
DAVID BROOKS…. 51…. “It is especially painful when narcissists suffer memory loss because they are losing parts of the person they love most.” Reformist score: 5. Influence inside GOP: 5.
TIM CARNEY…. 34…. “I’ve been writing on the same themes for seven years, and since the 2012 election Republicans have been more receptive than ever before.” Reformist score: 6. Influence inside GOP: 3.
ROSS DOUTHAT…. 33…. “A party elite can rebel against its own base successfully, but only if there’s a bigger base waiting to be built.” Reformist score: 5. Influence inside GOP: 5.
DAVID FRUM…. 52…. “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.” Reformist score: 7. Influence inside GOP: 2
MICHAEL GERSON/PETER WEHNER…. 48/52…. “First, and most important, is focusing on the economic concerns of working- and middle-class Americans, many of whom now regard the Republican Party as beholden to ‘millionaires and billionaires’ and as wholly out of touch with ordinary Americans.” Reformist score: 5. Influence inside GOP: 6.
DANIEL LARISON…. 34…. “Prolonged, costly wars always become unpopular, but this has not seemed to diminish popular enthusiasm for entering into new ones.” Reformist score: 7. Influence inside GOP: 2.
YUVAL LEVIN…. 35…. “Again and again in our history, passionate waves of resistance to authority have rattled our politics, while periods of trust in the state have been rare.” Reformist score: 3. Influence inside GOP: 10.
JAMES PETHOKOUKIS…. 44…. “Free enterprise, free markets, competition, and choice: All are timeless economic principles, but their application can and should evolve with changing economic circumstances.” Reformist score: 6. Influence inside GOP: 4.
RAMESH PONNURU…. 38…. “Romney was not a drag on the Republican party. The Republican party was a drag on him.” Reformist score: 8. Influence inside GOP: 9.
JAMES POULOS…. 33…. “Being a political pundit is actually like fronting a band. You suck at both for pretty much identical reasons.” Reformist score: 8. Influence inside GOP: 1
AVIK ROY…. 40…. “The thoroughness of the Republican defeat in 2012 opened a lot of people’s eyes.” Reformist score: 5. Influence inside GOP: 5.
REIHAN SALAM…. 33…. “Glenn Beck … is good for the country because he gives the small fraction of cable-watching American adults who are seriously alarmed by the threat of communism taking hold in the United States the sense that they are being listened to, and my instinct is that this will keep them from embracing more extreme views.” Reformist score: 7. Influence inside GOP: 5.
Of these, I would say yes to the young 28-year-old Barro (yes also to the whip-smart middle-aged Barro, even if he does believe that it is always 1978 and Jimmy Carter is always president), yes to Bartlett, yes to Carney, yes to Larison, and yes to Salam. Time spent engaging is time well-spent.
However, no to Brooks, no to Gerson/Wehner, no to Pehokoukis, and no to "Party of Death" Ponnuru, "Medicaid makes people sicker" Roy--you can't learn anything from them that's true, and time spent engaging is time wasted.
I haven't read enough of Levin or Poulos to have a view...
UPDATE: The RAs have reported back with a list of the right-of-center people Paul Krugman has engaged with on his weblog--not ranted at: not called knaves, fools, or psychopaths. The list consists of: Alberto Alesina, Silvia Ardagna, Bruce Bartlett, David Beckworth, Ben Bernanke, Nick Eberstadt, Martin Feldstein, David Greenlaw, James Hamilton, Peter Hooper, Masaaki Kanno, Greg Mankiw, Allan Meltzer, Rick Mishkin, Tim Lee, Carmen Reinhart, Vince Reinhart, Ken Rogoff, Irwin Stelzer, Scott Sumner.
That seems to me to be the right list.