In another predictable column condemning the Tea Party movement, Paul Krugman called Ronald Reagan an "anti-government fanatic" and disdained "the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P" in Friday's "Going to Extreme," using the same silly examples of alleged violent imagery the rest of the press has been wringing their hands over.
What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party's leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was "Armageddon." The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee's chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on "the firing line." And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.
Say this much for Krugman: He's not one of those hypocritical liberals that purports to admire Ronald Reagan after having hated him during his term of office. Krugman called President Reagan an "anti-government fanatic."
For today's G.O.P. is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan - not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the anti-government fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. It's a party that sees modest efforts to improve Americans' economic and health security not merely as unwise, but as monstrous. It's a party in which paranoid fantasies about the other side - Obama is a socialist, Democrats have totalitarian ambitions - are mainstream. And, as a result, it's a party that fundamentally doesn't accept anyone else's right to govern.
Social spending increased under President Reagan, actually.
John McCormack at The Weekly Standard unearthed some of Krugman's own "eliminationist rhetoric" from a few months ago, when he egged on angry leftists in a column on Obama-care:
A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you're disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable. But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.