Adopting Tea Party Rhetoric?

Paul Krugman and Andrew Ross Sorkin got into it the other day when Sorkin mischaracterized Krugman's views on the need for large insolvent banks (specifically Citi and BoA) to be taken over by the FDIC (a process that happens every week btw with smaller insolvent banks.) The spat drew the attention of NYTimes Public Editor Clark Hoyt:

[A] full and fair reading of the [Krugman] column [. . .] does not support the notion that he favored nationalizing the entire banking system. [. . .] I sent Sorkin a message telling him that I did not think his citations supported his argument that Krugman had called for nationalizing the entire banking system. In a long written message and two phone conversations, he said he regarded his differences with Krugman as “an issue of semantics” over the meaning of nationalization.

(Emphasis supplied.) Sorkin is right --he has adopted the rhetoric of the Tea Partiers and completely changed the understood meaning of the term "nationalization." Once upon a time, we all understood what nationalization meant. Mexico nationalized its oil industry by taking over ownership. Chile nationalized its copper industry by taking ownership of it. Sorkin chooses the Tea Partier way:

In Sweden’s case, he said, the government took over some banks but guaranteed the debts of all of them. “That’s how many people would define ‘nationalizing the entire banking system,’” he said.

Krugman disagreed. “Guaranteeing liabilities is not the same as nationalization,” he told me. “Nationalization is what happens when you clean out the shareholders, and the government becomes the owner. I never suggested that for all banks.”

I am not an economist or a business writer, but I have always understood nationalization to be a government takeover, not guarantees to creditors.

This new Tea Partier definition of "nationalization" Sorkin adopts does raise some questions for him though. For example, did TARP "nationalize" our financial system, given its de facto guarantees of the financial industry? Does Sorkin consider the government subsidies for the purchase of health care to commence in 2014 to be "nationalization" of the health care industry?

The reality is probably more mundane. Sorkin made a mistake and does not want to fess up. Egos are involved. Believe me, I know how that happens.

Speaking for me only

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    Nah, he's not a tea partier until (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by observed on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 02:10:32 PM EST
    he  writes that the US economy was 100% private before Obama became President.

    Get em :) (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 01:25:16 PM EST
    You do it well.  It is a joy to read.

    A delicious video link Atrios had up (none / 0) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 01:50:23 PM EST
    Only in America do we buy our own B.S., the rest of the world not so much.


    Just bad manners... (none / 0) (#3)
    by NYShooter on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 01:50:42 PM EST
    I would've been offended also at Sorkin's characterization of Krugman's position vis-à-vis the banks. They work in the same building, they're colleagues. Why didn't Sorkin just pick up the phone and clarify it with him.

    Ego? (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 01:51:48 PM EST
    Sure, (none / 0) (#5)
    by NYShooter on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 01:59:20 PM EST
    The young pup got a meteoric shot to his career with his recent book and I sense he's gotten a little carried away with his elevation into the realm of super-stardom.

    Besides (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 02:29:40 PM EST
    All press is good press... most of the public only remember the names, not the content..

    You have a good point (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Zorba on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 03:01:13 PM EST
    As Irish author Brendan Behan once said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary."