Paul Krugman on What's Behind the Right's Ridiculous Tendency to Panic

In his Friday column, Paul Krugman reminds readers that modern Republicans can be counted on to respond to international crises with a combination of stupidity and cruelty. It's happening with the refugee crisis. It happened with Ebola. One current and ridiculous example Krugman cites is Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of the website, who "declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because 'there are no metal detectors at American theaters." Erickson joins dozens of governors, mostly Republicans, who want to ban Syrian refugees, and of course the Paul Ryan-led House of Representatives' panic attack.

Meanwhile, Parisians are returning to their cafes.

Krugman's point is that this mode of operating is ubiquitous and business per usual on the modern American right:

But we shouldn’t really be surprised, because we’ve seen this movie before (unless we were too scared to go to the theater). Remember the great Ebola scare of 2014? The threat of a pandemic, like the threat of a terrorist attack, was real. But it was greatly exaggerated, thanks in large part to hype from the same people now hyping the terrorist danger.

What’s more, the supposed “solutions” were similar, too, in their combination of cruelty and stupidity. Does anyone remember Mr. Trump declaring that “the plague will start and spread” in America unless we immediately stopped all plane flights from infected countries? Or the fact that Mitt Romney took a similar position? As it turned out, public health officials knew what they were doing, and Ebola quickly came under control — but it’s unlikely that anyone on the right learned from the experience.

Dig a little deeper, and Krugman finds that an apocalyptic mind-set has taken hold among Republicans in the Obama years. And it won't let go:

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

And once again, the disaster and Donald Trump's xenophobic response have only inflated his poll numbers.

This could all end very badly. Time will tell.

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