Newsweek turned into a parody of itself months ago—call it what you will, NewsBeast, The Daily Weak, whatever—but is anyone even bothering to laugh now? This week, it follows (as if to balance the scales) its “Is Romney a Wimp” cover with a blast at Obama by ever-more-right-wing Niall Ferguson, titled “Hit the Road, Barack.” Since Newsweek seems inspired by Ray Charles, perhaps it will put Representative Todd Akin on next week’s cover under the heading, “What’d I Say?” Or the GOP congressman who skinny-dipped in the Sea of Galilee and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.”
Would you be surprised if it did?
I wrote the following column yesterday morning but so many others have critiqued Ferguson since that I thought an update was more than warranted. So see the comments from James Fallows, Andrew Sullivan and many others at the bottom. Also, Ferguson has just written a massive response to critics here, surprise, he sees conspiracy, and admits hating "liberal bloggers."
Paul Krugman, just back from vacation, last night in a blog post slammed Ferguson for severe and “unethical” factual errors. Getting to just one for now, he pointed to a grossly misleading claim about the CBO’s saying Obamacare will be adding to the deficit when in fact it said no such thing. Krugman says an official correction of this “cheap shot” by Newsweek is warranted. I’m guessing he will blog about it some more today.
Here’s the Ferguson piece, via Daily Beast, which includes, yes, charts. Here’s a brief reading guide:
• Even at a glance I can see that he uses 2008 numbers (from the Bush years) against the president, to show what we have lost—going back to before the economic collapse.
• Also, he makes the despicable claim, which isn’t even true, that half of Americans don’t pay taxes (by pointing merely to IRS net “taxable income”). And that half get some kind of government assistance—as if he wants to do away with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps.
• He writes, “Welcome to Obama’s America,” when it’s more accurate to say, “Welcome to the Bush-Romney America.” Indeed, he finds only “some truth” in any blame for Obama’s predecessor.
• Plus he regrets that we left Iraq—and apparently wants us to stay in Afghanistan forever. Yet remains a deficit hawk.
• And then the inevitable: “I know, like, and admire Paul Ryan. For me, the point about him is simple. He is one of only a handful of politicians in Washington who is truly sincere about addressing this country’s fiscal crisis.” Unsaid, of course, is that Ryan supported every major budget-busting move of the past decade. I love this: He writes of a dinner with Ryan in 2010, “Ryan blew me away. I have wanted to see him in the White House ever since.”
Get a room, guys! This is the Kristol-Palin affair, redux, with a little Rich Lowry on the side. Send Niall one of the shirtless Ryan shots, please.