"Centrist Pundits"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2011 9:31 AM

"Centrist Pundits"

Tom Friedman, November 16.

Here we are in America again on the eve of a major budgetary decision by yet another bipartisan “supercommittee,” and does anyone know what President Obama’s preferred outcome is? Exactly which taxes does he want raised, and which spending does he want cut? The president’s politics on this issue seems to be a bowl of poll-tested mush.
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Paul Krugman, November 17:

Oh, and let me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”
You see, admitting that one side is willing to make concessions, while the other isn’t, would tarnish one’s centrist credentials. And the result is that the G.O.P. pays no price for refusing to give an inch.

New York Times columnists don't go after one another by name, adhering to a longstanding policy of warmth and kindness. It's left up to other columnists to criticize Friedman by name, and point out that almost nothing he pines for in his occasional "o, grand bargain, where are thou" columns has been rejected by Barack Obama.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.