This morning, Times readers were greeted with another rebuttal from Brooks to Krugman masquerading as a column about "structuralists" vs. "cyclicalists." Brooks never mentions Krugman by name but when he talks about Keynesian "cyclicalists" who believe in more government borrowing and more government spending, we all know who he's talking about: Paul Krugman.
Just one day earlier, Krugman's column promoted the idea of short-term spending and borrowing in a celebration of the ascent of Francois Hollande, France's new socialist president. As if we needed the reminder (we've got an Internet addiction, we concede), the Facebook module beside Brooks's column even points readers to Krugman's piece.
This vexing game of winking intellectual fisticuffs needs to stop.
Last month, Krugman pulled the same thing, bashing critics of President Obama's economic speech directly following a Brooks criticism of, you guessed it, President Obama's economic speech. That episode followed a similar fight between the two last April when Brooks criticized Obama for not reaching across the aisle and Krugman responded by saying the "civility police" are whining that Obama is acting too partisan. In a later Brooks column, he criticized the kind of people with the "luxury of being freely obnoxious" and who reside in the "realm of Upper Blowhardia." Then-New Republic scribe Jonathan Chait said the column "reflect[s] what I strongly suspect is Brooks' view of Krugman."