In the op-ed business, it’s important to have a consistent “voice.” It helps build a loyal readership.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has certainly found his voice. A Princeton economics professor by day, his twice-weekly column in the “newspaper of record” has made him the patron saint of those who despise President Bush. He gladly throws red meat to people like the man who recently e-mailed me, “I'd love to see Bush tried for war crimes.”
Krugman hasn’t called for an inquisition yet, but he’s edging closer. “Remember that President Bush made his case for war by warning of a ‘mushroom cloud,’” Krugman wrote on April 29. “Clearly, Iraq didn’t have anything like that -- and Mr. Bush must have known that it didn’t.” He adds that the president “misled” Americans to get us into war.
Of course, in the months before the war, President Bush discussed other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in addition to nuclear weapons, but Krugman breezily dismisses those: “Poison gas or crude biological weapons ... aren't true WMDs, the sort of weapons that can make a small, poor country a threat to the greatest power the world has ever known.”
This ignores the fact that Iraq was offered the chance to declare its WMDs and destroy them. Instead, Saddam Hussein’s regime chose to issue a misleading report that ignored weapons we know Iraq had, and provided no evidence that these weapons had been destroyed, as United Nations resolution 1441 required.
Krugman also ignores the fact that Hussein himself was a weapon of mass destruction. Human rights groups estimate he killed at least 300,000 people during his autocratic regime. That’s the population of Springfield, Mo. His removal ended that killing and was a blessing to Iraq.
Krugman goes on to say we should ask ourselves some hard questions. “Why is our compassion so selective? In 2001 the World Health Organization called for a program to fight infectious diseases in poor countries ... The U.S. share of the expenses would have been about $10 billion per year ... Yet the Bush administration contemptuously dismissed the proposal.”
Sadly for Krugman, this column appeared on the same day President Bush repeated his call (first made in this year’s State of the Union address) for Congress to spend $15 billion to fight the spread of AIDS -- the most dangerous infectious disease -- in Africa.
As the Times pointed out, Bush’s proposal is a political gamble; many conservative groups, including some Townhall.com contributors, oppose his plan. It’s a measure of the president’s compassion that he’s willing to fight for his plan to help others.