Paul Krugman was in a good mood:
Seriously, isn’t it amazing just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing.
Greg Mankiw was not amused, noting that surveys of economists put the Bush appointees at about the same level as the Obama team:
Judging by this objective criterion, it looks like the two adminstrations are drawing economists from roughly the same talent pool. Of course, if one defines “grownup” as a person who agrees with Paul Krugman, and “hack” as a person who does not, then one might come to a different conclusion.
Then Krugman tried to kiss and make up, sort of:
I was actually thinking mainly about Tim Geithner versus John Snow, not about you.
But I think that Mankiw is quite wrong here. The point isn’t that there weren’t any good or smart people in the Bush Administration. No one doubts Mankiw’s bona fides as an economist.
Rather, in the Bush Administration it didn’t matter whether you were good or not; you were just ignored if you didn’t say what the Dear Leader wanted to hear. Mostly this was because of Cheney: virtually every one of the biggest policy disasters derived from him (although I don’t think you can lay Katrina response at his feet). But Bush knew what was going on, and approved it.
Mankiw became head of the CEA, and was promptly kicked out of the Old Executive Office Building. People like Shinseki warned about Iraq, and were humiliated publicly by Rumsfeld and his minions. Ditto with O’Neill and the deficit. Lawyers at DOD, State and NSC protested the torture policy, and Addington simply went around them. Christie Whitman committed to reining in greenhouse gases, and Cheney got Bush to reject it without even talking to her. Powell wanted to continue the North Korea Agreed Framework, and Cheney undercut him, too.
It must be a little frustrating to be a Republican who actually prized competence, because you will be left with the Bush/Cheney taint for a long time. But I can’t say as that I feel that sorry for you. You supported this man for 8 years. You made excuses for his actions, for his stupidity, for his incompetence. You never called him on it. And now you are protesting that you’re not like him. Sorry: you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.