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Paul Krugman Turns Down Job He Was Never Offered

paulkrugman

In the past several weeks, fringe elements such as actor Danny Glover and Moveon.org have called on President Obama to appoint New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. There’s never been any indication at all that the White House was ever considering Krugman for the job, or even that his name was on the longest of the short lists. Nonetheless, Krugman announced today that he would not take the job:

Part of the reason is that I am indeed the World’s Worst Administrator — and that does matter. Someone else can do the paperwork — but an administrative job requires making hiring and firing decisions, it means keeping track of many things, and that, to say the least, is not my forte.

Oh, and there’s not a chance that I would be confirmed.

But the main point, as I see it, is that it would mean taking me out of a quasi-official job that I believe I’m good at and putting me into one I’d be bad at.

So first of all, let’s talk frankly about the job I have. The New York Times isn’t just some newspaper somewhere, it’s the nation’s paper of record. As a result, being an op-ed columnist at the Times is a pretty big deal — one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted — and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators. Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?

Now, officials inside the administration can of course have even more influence — but only if they’re good at a very different kind of game, that of persuading the president and his inner circle in behind-closed-doors discussion. And everything I know about myself says that I’m not very good at that game.

By my reckoning, then, an administration job, no matter how senior, would actually reduce my influence, leaving me unable to say publicly what I really think and all too probably finding myself unable to make headway in internal debates.

In the spirit of Krugman’s blog post, I wish to announce that I too am taking my name out of consideration for Treasury Secretary, as well as Defense Secretary, CIA Director, head of the European Union, United Nations General Secretary, and Pope.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. edmondo says:

    I’m pretty sure that the Treasury Secretary position is reserved for someone who is on the Too Big To Fail approved list.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. legion says:

    “I’m not the Pope the Church wants… I’m the Pope it _needs_.”
    -BatPope

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    In the spirit of Krugman’s blog post, I wish to announce that I too am taking my name out of consideration for Treasury Secretary, as well as Defense Secretary, CIA Director, head of the European Union, United Nations General Secretary, and Pope.

    With the difference being, of course, that Dr. Krugman is actually intellectually and professionally qualified to be Treasury Secretary, while with regard to that and the other jobs, you…are not.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

  4. stonetools says:

    Oh well, too bad. Maybe Christine Romer, Mark Thoma, Alfred Stieglitz, or Brad deLong would be better suited and more likely to be confirmed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In the spirit of Krugman’s blog post, I wish to announce that I too am taking my name out of consideration for Treasury Secretary, as well as Defense Secretary, CIA Director, head of the European Union, United Nations General Secretary, and Pope.

    Has somebody been making ridiculous assertions for you to take any of those positions? I missed that.

    As for Pope, I think I would be far better at it than the present child raping enabler. I would do to the Catholic Church what so many conservatives want to do with the Dept of Education.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  6. JWH says:

    In the spirit of Krugman’s blog post, I wish to announce that I too am taking my name out of consideration for Treasury Secretary, as well as Defense Secretary, CIA Director, head of the European Union, United Nations General Secretary, and Pope.

    Why not try for some varations on these positions:

    Instead of Treasury Secretary, Secretary of Buried Treasure. Comes with an eyepatch and a strangely intelligent parrot.

    In lieu of Defense Secretary, you can be Da Fence Guy, in charge of demarcating property boundaries.

    CIA Director? Pshaw. You should be Seeing Eye Director, in charge of training service animals, a noble profession.

    And in lieu of Pope, you could always manufacture potpourri.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Let’s not be too hasty. If the universe is truly infinite then on some other earths Doug actually is the defense secretary, CIA director, Pope, etc

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    The difference is that no one…not even complete idiots like Glover and Move-On…is suggesting you for anything…not even janitor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    @rudderpedals:

    It can’t be THAT infinite….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. John Peabody says:

    I’m not even joking- I just canceled my Kindle subscription to the Times because of Mr. Krugman’s fawning remarks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14

  11. Franklin says:

    @Rafer Janders: @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, I’ll just go ahead and call for Doug to be the next Pope, if that’s what this discussion needs. Or OzarkHillbilly, if you even want the job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Colourfield says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Beat me to it

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. MBunge says:

    “Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?”

    I’m sure they read Krugman, but where is there any evidence that he has much influence on policy or the ongoing public debate? Isn’t his whole thing about how he’s Cassandra and no one listens to him?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @ Rudderpedals/Rafer…
    I think that would require infinite dimensions, and not just other earths.
    The physical rules in these four dimensions are just too limiting.
    If string theory is correct…and there are 6 or 7 other dimensions that we cannot “see”…and where the “rules” could be very different…then maybe. Maybe. But still unlikely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. de stijl says:

    @John Peabody:

    I’m not even joking- I just canceled my Kindle subscription to the Times because of Mr. Krugman’s fawning remarks.

    I’m not one to criticize someone’s innocuous behavior. Not really my business, but, man, your fainting couch must get a lot of use.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  16. stonetools says:

    @MBunge:

    m sure they read Krugman, but where is there any evidence that he has much influence on policy or the ongoing public debate? Isn’t his whole thing about how he’s Cassandra and no one listens to him?

    I agree here. They MAY read him: they certainly don’t follow his policy prescriptions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What’s crazy is that we’ve slipped as a country so precipitously it’s not entirely frivolous to envision Krugman being nominated for Treasury. Gulp.

    Fortunately, though, even Obama is not so loopy that he’d give any serious thought to what truly would be an abject farce of a nomination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  18. Stan says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: During recessions people save more of their income and spend less. In 1929 people started spending less because their stock lost much of its value. In 2007 – 2008 people started spending less because their houses lost much of their value. If governments also spend less, total demand decreases, businesses sell fewer products, and they decrease hiring. That’s what Krugman has been saying. He’s pointed to the UK government’s austerity program as an example of following the wrong policy. Apparently you disagree. Why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  19. bk says:

    @John Peabody: Get ready to cancel your subscription to Sports Illustrated when the annual swimsuit issue comes out in a few weeks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Hal 10000 says:

    In the spirit of Krugman’s blog post, I wish to announce that I too am taking my name out of consideration for Treasury Secretary, as well as Defense Secretary, CIA Director, head of the European Union, United Nations General Secretary, and Pope.

    I dunno about that last one. Especially if you were to pick a cool Papal name like Lando II.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. C. Clavin says:

    Apparently the IMF disagrees with Tsar and is closer aligned to Krugman. I’m sure Tsar is right though. What does the IMF know about such things?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2013/01/04/why-austerity-may-be-both-worse-than-we-thought-and-hard-to-predict/

    “…Put another way, cutting a government’s budget, as an economy capsizes, is sort of like if a sailor falls overboard and then his crew members stand safely on deck and expect him to make it back on the ship in about five minutes. He has swam that far, that fast before, and there’s no reason to expect that he can’t do it again. But, oh, there’s also a once-in-a-lifetime storm raging all around…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. bk says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Apparently the IMF disagrees with Tsar and is closer aligned to Krugman.

    The IMF is loopy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. Stan says:

    @C. Clavin: This isn’t Forbes, this is somebody writing in Forbes. I agree with the IMF study you cited but I think it will have zero effect on editorial policy at Forbes or at the Wall Street Journal. Or on the thinking of people like Larry Kudlow or our own Tsar Nick. Orthodox economics is part of their belief system. It’s rooted in emotion rather than in intellect. Nothing will change it.

    There’s a famous quote attributed to Max Planck “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die… “. It’s the same in economics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @Stan: The IMF working paper can be, for our purposes, distilled to one sentence:

    Overall, we find that . . . forecasters significantly underestimated the increase in unemployment and the decline in domestic demand associated with fiscal consolidation.

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2013/wp1301.pdf

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. @Rafer Janders:

    You recognize a joke, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  26. An Interested Party says:

    You recognize a joke, right?

    One would think he would…after all, he reads your posts…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Normally, yes, but it seems from your tone that I missed one. Could you point me to where the joke was?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0