A mystery for the ages

[Daniel Drezner]

Ten weeks ago I predicted all of Paul Krugman's op-ed essays for 2008 by using the following simple formula:

We’re heading into a recession....

The Republicans are blinkered.

Everything is Alan Greenspan’s fault.

I luuuuuv John Edwards.

Barack Obama is not a real progressive.

By my count, today's op-ed has at least three of the five tropes.

Krugman's defenders might point out that he's actually right about a few of these points -- though I'm willing to bet that there's dissensus about which ones he's been right about.

What's puzzling to me, however, is that this tactic of redundant repitition renders Krugman unbelievably boring. After the 50th op-ed hammering home the same point, Krugman winds up alienating even his natural allies.

This is a genuine problem. Looking back over the past decade, Krugman has been right about some big issues (Bush's tax cuts, Iraq) even if his reasoning has not always been spot-on. During this campaign, however, his rhetorical effectiveness has been on the decline -- which means that even if he has a valid point, it gets lost in the ether.

In contrast, the campaign seems to have rejuvenated the minds of David Brooks and even, Lord help me, Maureen Dowd. I don't necessarily agree with them all that much either... but there's a curiosity of mind at work -- a willingness to play with ideas and themes -- that seems completely shut down in Krugman's work.

Why is this?