Paul Krugman vs. Joe Scarborough and the Neverending Scorecard

The Atlantic Wire

If you missed Politico's rundown of online reaction to the made-for-TV debate between Nobel-prize-winner Paul Krugman, it starts with a simple question, "Did Joe Scarborough trounce Paul Krugman on Monday night?" The unhelpful verdict: Both sides won and lost.

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The question stems from a scrap featured on PBS' Charlie Rose, in which the host invited Krugman — who, again, has a Nobel Prize in economics — and Scarborough — who does not — to debate the debt crisis. It could probably have been the least interesting thing on television yesterday.

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Shortly after the taping, Krugman unfavorably compared his performance to Obama's in his first 2012 debate against Romney. Watching the exchange below, I'd agree with that Newsbusters guy who (in the long version) suggests that Krugman comes off more like Al Gore debating George W. Bush in 2000.

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There's a reason for this, just as there was a reason for Obama's and Gore's poor performances: overconfidence. Krugman, being smarter than Scarborough in about the only possible objective sense (Nobel Prize possession versus having been in Congress), assumed that would translate into a debate victory. What he forgot was that he was entering an MMA ring against a guy that spends three hours a day every day practicing for exactly this fight.

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But let's let Politico tell us who won. (This is from the long version, not the short version, not that it matters.)

One thing there was no arguing about — the debate was a “tense” and “testy” war of words.

Ha ha ha. OK.

Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald wrote in a piece titled “The politician vs. the economist” that although he thought Krugman “probably won the debate on the merits,” he didn’t come across as the winner to TV audiences. …

Many, however, said they thought Scarborough won the battle flat-out.

Scarborough’s MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski took to Twitter to reflect on the match-up …

And we'll just end that right there.

Politico of course makes absolutely no judgment call on who won. In classic Politico form, a question is posed and then talked about with quotes from either side. It is as if the site's headline on November 7, 2012, read: "Was Obama reelected president last night?" followed by 200 words from each campaign arguing over the results.

Here is a list of useful things one can do with one's time, in decreasing order of utility.

  1. Watch Paul Krugman debate Joe Scarborough on literally anything.
  2. Comment about that debate online.
  3. Collect those comments into a not-very-long blog post.
  4. Repost that not-very-long blog post elsewhere on the same site except ending it halfway through for some reason.
  5. Write a post that's longer than the not-very-long blog post making fun of the whole thing.
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