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Ben Stein Fights Back: Bashes Paul Krugman

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We thought that our wrap-up of the reaction to Ben Stein’s piece might finally put our day-long obsession with his Goldman Conspiracy Theory Essay to rest. But then Stein himself decided to lash out against one of his opponents.
The news comes from our friends at New York magazine’s Daily Intel, who actually got a hold of Stein and asked him about the reaction.
"It is hardly to be expected that I could question an institution as powerful as Goldman Sachs and not get some response," Stein told Daily Intel. "As to Paul Krugman, I don't like to deal with people so full of hate. His recent piece on [Milton] Friedman [in the New York Review of Books] was so thoroughly debunked by Anna Schwartz that I would well imagine he's not happy."
Of course, this is a slimy—if tactically smart—move. No doubt Stein is particularly hurt that another New York Times writer with economic credentials bashed his essay. (Isn’t there some policy that says they aren’t supposed to openly mock each other? We’d always assumed that there must be. How else do you explain the lack of open mockery of Maureen Dowd in the pages of the Times?) But going after Krugman is slimy-smart because a lot of Stein's detractors are also not the biggest fans of the Krug. It even makes us uncomfortable to find ourselves agreeing with him. And reminding everyone that Krugman is a Friedman-basher and, more broadly speaking, an Keynesian enemy of free-markets is rhetorical hardball.
But it’s probably a misstep for Stein to imply that his column was criticized because he questioned “an institution as powerful as Goldman Sachs.” Take a look at that long list of critics from our earlier post. Not a one of them is routinely a defender of Goldman or of institutional power in general. In fact, pretty much every single one of the critics we quotes is far better known for biting at the ankles of our financial titans. This just makes Stein looks sadly defensive.
Ben Stein Thinks Paul Krugman Probably Just Has Low Self-Esteem [Daily Intel]