There is a reason why Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist, and not a political operative who seeks to elect more and better Democrats. Case in point: this.
Joining other pundits in explaining the outcome of the election a week before Election Day, Krugman delivers his "I told you so" message once again, beating the same drum he's been beating for over 2 years. The stimulus package was too small and focused too much on tax cuts, instead of stimulative spending. As a result, the stimulus was unable to offset major budget cuts at the state and local levels, and the economy fell into higher levels of unemployment than the Obama administration had anticipated.
As the old African proverb goes: When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.
Krugman scores points in his running argument with economists like Greg Mankiw, Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, and Christina Romer. And yes, Krugman's line of argument could be seen as prescient. The stimulus didn't fix the unemployment problem and Fed easing only managed to put more money in the hands of the banks that got us in this mess to begin with.
But why are we talking about this a week from Election Day?
If Democrats do as badly as expected in next week’s elections, pundits will rush to interpret the results as a referendum on ideology. President Obama moved too far to the left, most will say...
And he's correct about this. Doug Schoen, in an article by the Times's Peter Baker, says that losing the midterms will be the best thing that could possibly happen for Obama, because it will give him someone to run against. (Because, ultimately, it's all about optics, apparently ... screw the country, we have an election to win! In 2012!) And Schoen isn't the only one dispensing this outstanding conventional wisdom. It's not the Republicans' fault that the stimulus wasn't larger (even though they voted in lockstep opposition after repeated overtures from President Obama, and the tax cuts that Republicans claim will be the solution to all that ails our economy). It's not the Republicans' fault that they opposed healthcare and lied about what it is doing for the country. It's not the Republicans fault that Wall Street reform was too weak. And of course, Republicans aren't to blame that Gitmo hasn't closed, or that the Bush Administration hasn't been tried for war crimes of which it is most assuredly guilty.
No, we should blame Obama for all of this. And while we're at it, let's blame Nancy Pelosi too.
The Democrats lost the election because...
Does anyone realize that we're still over a week away from the election?
This is like the Stanford band coming out on the field to celebrate their victory over Cal. There is still time on the clock, and we don't even need a Hail Mary. We just need to run the ball down the opposition's throat for the next seven days.
And yes, there are some Blue Dogs who might lose, and even a few incumbent progressives if we're not careful.
But this election is incredibly uncertain, incredibly volatile, and totally dependent on voter turnout.
This game isn't over yet.