Paul Greenberg

It started out as a gag here on the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and soon became a superstition:

Every time the stock market took a little dip, we'd reprint one of Paul Krugman's dour columns from the New York Jaundiced Times about the imminent doom of the American economy.

Almost immediately the market would bounce back and then some. It worked every time.

But we may have overdone it of late. By now the Dow Jones has started to cross into 12,000 territory. A few more Krugman columns explaining how the economy has cooled off and the thing could overheat.

We reprinted one of his columns last Thursday morning and, sure enough, by the end of the day, the Dow ended the day over 12,000 for the first time. AN HISTORIC HIGH! and all that jazz.

Well, sure. The Krugman touch never fails.

The more Professor Eeyore says the economy is going to hell, the more heavenly it gets. Can it be just a coincidence? The Dow seems to surge whenever it sees "Paul Krugman" in a by-line. It must be a kind of Pavlovian reaction by now.

But the last column of his we ran wasn't about the economy. It was about politics. Its burden - and it wasn't a light one to bear - is that folks should ignore the individual candidates in this congressional election and just vote for the party. Anyone who knows something of the good doctor's politics can safely assume he meant the Democratic Party.

Why? Answer: "The really important reason may be summed up in two words: subpoena power." With the power to call witnesses, the Democrats could investigate, investigate, investigate.

As the good doctor explains: "Those who think it's a good idea to investigate, say, allegations of cronyism and corruption in Iraq contracting should be aware that any vote cast for a Republican makes congressional investigations less likely. Those who believe that the administration should be left alone to do its job should be aware that any vote for a Democrat makes investigations more likely."

There you have it, folks. Give the Democrats control of the House or Senate, or both, and you won't have to worry about any legislation of great import being passed - as Dr. Krugman was honest enough to note. Instead, boy oh boy, the country can spend the next couple of years as tied up in investigations as it was during the Clinton Era of Bad Feelings. Hot dawg!

This could be the greatest thing since sliced bread - or at least since Monicagate.

In short, as an argument for electing a Democratic Congress, Dr. Krugman's column makes a pretty good case for re-electing a Republican one. If just to avoid wasting a couple of years on scandalmongering.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.