Angry Paul Krugman Bewails 'Tainted Outrage, and We Should Never Forget It'

December 12th, 2016 3:01 PM

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is fighting in the last trench, still attacking the results of the free and fair 2016 presidential election that resulted in for him the unthinkable: A victory by Donald Trump in “The Tainted Election.” The text box: “Coming to grips with illegitimacy.”

Krugman managed to praise one government bureau (the CIA) while again bashing another (James Comey and the FBI).

Meanwhile, the F.B.I. went public 10 days before the election, dominating headlines and TV coverage across the country with a letter strongly implying that it might be about to find damning new evidence against Hillary Clinton -- when it turned out, literally, to have found nothing at all.

Did the combination of Russian and F.B.I. intervention swing the election? Yes. Mrs. Clinton lost three states – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – by less than a percentage point, and Florida by only slightly more. If she had won any three of those states, she would be president-elect. Is there any reasonable doubt that Putin/Comey made the difference?

And it wouldn’t have been seen as a marginal victory, either. Even as it was, Mrs. Clinton received almost three million more votes than her opponent, giving her a popular margin close to that of George W. Bush in 2004.

The popular vote tally is interesting but irrelevant – neither Trump nor Clinton campaigned to win the meaningless popular vote, but aimed to win in the Electoral College, the one that actually counted. Trump could have surely campaigned differently and cut into Clinton’s four-million vote margin in California, if the popular vote was how the election would have been decided. One can’t superimpose new rules after the game has been played and declare an alternate winner.

So this was a tainted election. It was not, as far as we can tell, stolen in the sense that votes were counted wrong, and the result won’t be overturned. But the result was nonetheless illegitimate in important ways; the victor was rejected by the public, and won the Electoral College only thanks to foreign intervention and grotesquely inappropriate, partisan behavior on the part of domestic law enforcement.

The question now is what to do with that horrifying knowledge in the months and years ahead.

(This is actually a step back from the ledge from where Krugman was a couple of weeks after the election, when he forwarded on Twitter a left-wing conspiracy theory about how Trump stole the election: “OK, this is terrifying,” he wrote, linking to a shoddy, soon-to-be-utterly discredited study claiming, according to the headline of the equally gullible New York magazine, “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States.”)

Krugman continued on Monday:

One could, I suppose, appeal to the president-elect to act as a healer, to conduct himself in a way that respects the majority of Americans who voted against him and the fragility of his Electoral College victory. Yeah, right. What we’re actually getting are wild claims that millions of people voted illegally, false assertions of a landslide, and denigration of the intelligence agencies.

A liberal blaming a Republican for bashing the CIA seems a bit odd, after all the guff the left gave the CIA for the flawed intelligence that led to the Iraq War.

In other words, nothing that happened on Election Day or is happening now is normal. Democratic norms have been and continue to be violated, and anyone who refuses to acknowledge this reality is, in effect, complicit in the degradation of our republic....

And when, as you know will happen, the administration begins treating criticism as unpatriotic, the answer should be: You have to be kidding. Mr. Trump is, by all indications, the Siberian candidate, installed with the help of and remarkably deferential to a hostile foreign power. And his critics are the people who lack patriotism?

Krugman concluded by confessing his anger, which may be a healthy first step on the road to recovery.

....Personally, I’m still figuring out how to keep my anger simmering -- letting it boil over won’t do any good, but it shouldn’t be allowed to cool. This election was an outrage, and we should never forget it.