Paul Krugman is very smart.
He has a Nobel Prize.
He is a tenured professor at Princeton.
He’s written a whole bunch of stuff.
He’s a brilliant economist.
But he (still) can’t count to 60.
Krugman’s New York Times column today constitutes a major contribution to the heterodox "But I want a pony" theory of politics -- initially developed by various contributors to the liberal web site Daily Kos -- which rejects conventional models of political outcomes that are based on outmoded methods such as counting votes and knowing the rules of the legislative process in favor of the claim advanced by pony theorists that anything is possible if only the president "fights" for it.
This theory echoes the Bush administration’s criticism of the "reality-based community’s" alleged failure to recognize that actions of sufficiently determined political actors can in fact override and replace existing reality with alternative realities (which will then be subjected to judicious study by the "reality-based community").
Under the "But I want a pony" theory, presidents who bow to the constraints of reality, rather than overriding it through sufficient determination and combativeness, are deemed "unprepared to deal with the world as [they] find it."
Krugman argues that President Obama has committed this error -- by failing to "fight" (apparently meaning to give sufficiently forceful speeches) for a larger stimulus, or to defend the Fed’s policy of Quantitive Easing against Chinese objections in sufficiently confrontational terms, or by suggesting the possibility of compromise with Republicans who will soon hold the power to block his entire agenda.
According to the "But I want a pony" theory, the fact that the 60 votes necessary to overcome Republican filibusters were not available is not the obstacle to passage that traditional theories which regard politics as subject to the constraints of reality consider it. Similarly, the unimaginative conventional wisdom -- that calling people (Chinese officials, or Republican members of Contress) hypocrites is usually an ineffective way to elicit their cooperation where such cooperation is both seemingly contrary to their interests and necessary for the achievement of one's own goals -- can be set aside due to the recent paradigm-shattering discovery of the reality-bending properties of vehemence.
While holding the potential to revolutionize the field of political science as much as any innovation since the remote viewing approach advocated by Courtney Brown, pony theory still exhibits gaps and contradictions requiring further research. For instance, it fits uncomfortably with Krugman’s previous preference for quantitative research methods in economics, which do in fact rely on both counting and on an ontological commitment to the existence of objective reality, rather than pony theory's view of reality as malleable and socially constructed.
President Obama has thus far insisted on counting all the way to 60, and acted as though measures that could not command 60 votes in the Senate could not overcome a filibuster.
But Paul Krugman is very smart. Maybe he’s figured out a shortcut to or end run around 60 involving "fighting," by means of successfully framing one's preferred policies as desirable, and discrediting opponents' claims. Let’s watch Krugman show us how it’s done: