Call up his column on the Times' opinion page and then read the comments. Ow! Fetch the bandages and smelling salts! The Times' influential left-of-center readership, which turned out en masse for Obama in 2008, suddenly can't stand him. Among the choicer epithets for their fallen hero: "out-and-out liar," "empty suit," "inexperienced Chicago pol," "worst Democratic president in a century."
And the deadliest of them all: "Republican."
The hope-and-change president, it seems, is a Republican: a less honest party member, alas, than the one he replaced in the White House, delicately described by one Krugman reader as "satanic." When, in the presidential standings, you drop behind Satan, it is advisable to watch your back. Or -- here was the meat of Krugman's complaint -- get a philosophy and act on it.
Twenty-seven months into the era of Hope and Change, the perception grows and spreads, like one of those grass fires ravaging the Southwest, that Hope and Change's chief advocate lacks goals and commitments; that he's not even a liberal, just a big talker.
No more than they take a Paul Krugman column as dispositive should Republicans view the remarks of Krugman's fans that way. It does help to reflect that a certain perception concerning Obama's leadership is catching fire, for reasons resembling those underlying the call for tax increases: reasons feather-light, insubstantial, calculated as much for sound as for meaning.