So, Krugman is on vacation.
So, the Times needs someone to fill in for him.
So, they get Ross Douthat to fill in and get this:
The following is Excerpt*:
We know how the story turned out last time. Clinton’s popularity, temporarily boosted by his September speech, quickly sank again. Health care reform withered on the vine. Public anger with Washington boiled higher. And Newt Gingrich’s Congressional Republicans swept into power the following fall.
The long shadow of that 1994 drubbing helps explain why Democrats will probably end up passing something called “health care reform” before the year is out, the better to avoid their party’s Clinton-era fate.
But Frank Luntz, the pollster behind Gingrich’s Contract With America, thinks they may have the wrong early-1990s parallel in mind.
When I asked him about the lessons of 1994, Luntz — whose latest book, “What Americans Really Want ... Really,” is pitched to a bipartisan audience — happily rattled off the parallels between that era and this one: anxiety about deficits, furious distrust of Washington, growing doubts about a Democratic president.
But Luntz insisted that in the run-up to the ’94 election, “it wasn’t the health care debate that was driving the anger; it was the crime bill.”
That piece of legislation, which mixed stricter sentencing laws with more money for prison-building and more financing for police, was supposed to cement Clinton’s reputation as a tough-minded centrist.
Instead, the crime bill became a lightning rod for populist outrage. The price tag made it seem fiscally irresponsible. (Back then, $30 billion was real money.) The billions it lavished on crime prevention — like the infamous funding of “midnight basketball” — looked liked ineffective welfare spending. The gun-control provisions felt like liberalism-as-usual.
“Every day that the Republicans delayed the bill,” Luntz remembers, “the public learned more about it — and the more they learned, the angrier they got.”
That’s exactly what’s been happening now. The health care push has opened up arguments about abortion, euthanasia and illegal immigration that the Democrats would rather avoid. At the same time, it’s become the vessel for a year’s worth of anxieties about bailouts, deficits and Beltway incompetence.
This August’s town-hall fury wasn’t just about the details of health care. Neither were the anti-Obama protests that crowded Washington over the weekend. They were about the Wall Street bailout, the G.M. takeover, the A.I.G. bonuses, and countless smaller examples of middle-income Americans’ “playing by the rules,” as Luntz puts it, “and having someone else benefit.”
The bad news for Democrats is that actually passing a health care bill could further enflame these anxieties. Clinton’s crime bill passed Congress by substantial margins, when all was said and done. But the anger that the debate had summoned up didn’t go away — and Gingrich’s Republicans were there to reap the benefits.
I'll bet Krugman doesn't go on vacation so quickly next time, now that he knows his seat isn't reserved for liberal partisan shills.
* - When I say "excerpt," I mean it is NOT the complete article. This quote is cherry picked. However, there are no deletions of material within the quoted excerpt. If you want to read the whole article, just follow the link.