Krugman: Biden's nonexistent 'war on meat' fits into broader GOP narrative that Democrats aren’t 'real Americans'

Krugman: Biden's nonexistent 'war on meat' fits into broader GOP narrative that Democrats aren’t 'real Americans'
Photo via Gage Skidmore.

In the right-wing media — from Fox News and Newsmax TV to AM talk radio — wingnuts have been falsely claiming that President Joe Biden is trying to bully Americans into consuming little or no red meat. CNN and other outlets have debunked this nonsense, and liberal economist Paul Krugman does some debunking of his own in an April 26 column for the New York Times. But Krugman emphasizes that bogus claims about Biden and meat consumption are part of a broader GOP culture war narrative that Democrats don't represent the values of middle America — and Republicans aren't about to let facts get in the way of that narrative.

Krugman notes that on April 23, former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow "told Fox News viewers that Joe Biden's climate plans would force Americans to stop eating meat" — and that on July 4, Americans will have to "throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled brussels sprouts."

"Kudlow's remarks raise several questions," Krugman explains. "What, exactly, does he think beer is made from? Also, doesn't he know that grilled brussels sprouts are, in fact, delicious? More important, why would anyone believe this assertion about Biden's plans, or expect anyone else to believe it?"

Krugman adds that the Biden Administration has "said nothing at all about changing America's diet" and that "Kudlow took his cues from a sleazy article in the Daily Mail, a right-wing British tabloid."

"The article didn't actually assert that Biden is proposing to restrict meat consumption," Krugman notes. "Instead, it offered a series of speculations about what might happen. Among other things, it took the most extreme scenario from a University of Michigan study of how reduced meat consumption could affect greenhouse gas emissions — a study released in January 2020 that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Biden plans. The Daily Mail also used a deceptive graphic to make it seem as if this was an actual administration proposal."

Although there was no truth to the claim that Biden was declaring war on meat consumption, Krugman observes, "right-wing pundits and politicians" were quick to echo Kudlow's claims.

"Kudlow's apparent belief that beer is made with meat is arguably a point in his favor — an indication that he's genuinely clueless rather than merely cynical," Krugman writes. "What's clear, however, is that neither Kudlow nor other Republicans touting an imaginary war on meat saw any need to check out their story, felt any concern that their audience — Fox News viewers, Republican voters — would find the claim that Joe Biden is coming for their red meat implausible."

False claims that Biden is trying to bully Americans into becoming vegetarians, according to Krugman, have no more validity than claims that he was responsible for Dr. Seuss Enterprises' decision to withdraw six titles from publication — another lie that Fox News has promoted.

Krugman explains, "The goal is to portray Democrats as woke feminist vegetarians who don't share the values of real Americans…. It doesn't matter that Joe Biden isn't actually trying to ban hamburgers or — to take another false claim right-wing pundits and politicians keep repeating — that he hasn't 'taken down' the border with Mexico. Republicans have pretty much given up even trying to make a case against Biden's actual policies, let alone proposing serious policies themselves. Instead, it's all smears."

The economist wraps up his columnist by stressing that facts fall by the wayside when Republicans are looking for Culture War narratives to use again Biden and other Democrats.

"The point is that Kudlow and others consider it OK to throw out wild claims about what Democrats are up to, because those are the kinds of things woke liberals would do, aren't they?," Krugman writes. "Will the public go along? The Biden Administration thinks not, betting it can overcome the power of affinity fraud with policies that offer real benefits to working Americans. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that this strategy will work."

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