Paul Krugman has an interesting speculative comment on today’s WSJ article on the difficulty former Bush henchmen are having in finding work. Putting aside the gleeful chortling (him, I mean – not me), he suggests that this could be one of the signs of cracks in the right-wing bulwark, and the impending breakup of the vast right-wing conspiracy:
As an economist, I’m supposed to believe in incentives; and the remarkable cohesiveness of conservatives has a lot to do with incentives.
Show some independence, and you’ll face a lavishly financed primary challenge from the Club for Growth. Be a loyal soldier, and you will be taken care of — through what’s commonly referred to as “wingnut welfare.”
Thus, lose an election, and a think tank with the usual funding sources will create an America’s Enemies program for you to direct. Mess up the occupation of Iraq, and you’ll be appointed to run the World Bank; mess up there, and there’s still a chair waiting for you at AEI.
But it appears that wingnut welfare is breaking down when it comes to former Bush officials. Is this the beginning of the end for movement conservatism?
We can only hope so. There certainly are hopeful signs of the GOP beginning to fracture, especially of a re-thinking of the relationship between “fiscal conservatives” and the religious ultra-nutters. The fingerpointing has in no way died down after the election debacle, and the Republicans still in elective office are simply acting insane over the stimulus and the economy generally. There’s a lot of hurting still to be done on the right wing, and we can only hope it goes on as long and as deeply as possible.
But all that is too obvious. What interests me about this post by Krugman is that he would go out on that kind of a limb. To be sure, he’s not risking anything, and it’s not an important story by itself, but he’s not someone who makes wild predictions. That someone who generally shows sensible and considered judgment would speculate on consequences as far-ranging as he does above gives pause for thought. (Gleeful, savagely joyful, and much relieved thought!)