The most remarkable attribute Krugman has brought to the Times is rudeness. The social niceties that accompany his exalted position are utterly lost on him. He does not seek out the company of famous politicians and cannot be courted with flattery or access. He understands that you can’t arrive at truth without explaining why mistaken beliefs are wrong.
Krugman makes a mockery of the prohibition against arguing with his fellow columnists, larding his columns with rebuttals to unnamed subjects who happen to believe things that were advocated on the Times op-ed page earlier in the week. Thomas Friedman writes a column complaining, “Does anyone know what President Obama’s preferred outcome is? Exactly which taxes does he want raised, and which spending does he want cut?” And the next day, Krugman writes: “Oh, and let me give a special shout-out to ‘centrist’ pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: ‘Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?’ Mr. Obama: ‘I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.’ Pundit: ‘Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?’ ”
Re: the first paragraph. If what you’re about is “explaining why mistaken beliefs are wrong,” then you’re not trying to “arrive at truth”: you believe you already possess it. Also, the characteristic Krugman argument is, roughly, “Your argument is wrong because it’s mistaken,” or, when he wants to change things up, “Your argument is mistaken because it’s wrong.”
Re: the second paragraph, note that Krugman’s response to Friedman — if that’s what it is — is a non-response. Friedman asked which taxes the President wants to raise, and which spending he wants to cut — and Krugman doesn’t answer either question. If Krugman had Friedman in mind, then he managed to bluster his way past questions he didn’t have answers to. This too is typical Krugman.
In brief, the more rudely Krugman behaves, the more likely it is that he lacks substantive arguments. (This is equally true of almost every other pundit I can think of, with the possible exception of Christopher Hitchens.) If that’s the kind of thing you want to celebrate, New York, knock yourself out, I guess.