New Tone

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 11, 2011

The following passage from Paul Krugman’s latest editorial stood out for me:

What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?

I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.

(Emphasis mine.) “Enemies”? The President has political “enemies”? They aren’t just “opponents,” or “rivals”? I thought that this kind of language was supposed to lead to a dramatic rise in political incivility, which would be the precursor to violence. I thought that talk about political “enemies,” and maps with targets on them were verboten in the Age of the New Tone. Where was the editing on this language–either from Krugman, or from those responsible for looking over his editorial to make sure that it passes muster? And if–Heaven forbid–an act of political violence is carried out against one of the “enemies” of the President, do we have the right to blame Paul Krugman’s column for inspiring that violence?

Lest anyone think that these are silly thoughts, bear in mind that they reflect precisely the kind of debate that enveloped the country in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.

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