By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Paul Krugman, cat person

If you’re a fan of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, as I am, then you really have to read Larissa MacFarquhar’s profile of him in the current New Yorker.

I love the Tina Barney photo of Krugman and his wife, Robin Wells, posing with their cats. You don’t really get the full effect unless you see it in the print edition, but there’s something hilariously incongruous about Krugman holding a cat while looking like he’s about to bite the head off a political adversary.

I was also interested to learn that Wells has had a strong hand in sharpening and toughening Krugman’s prose. For instance:

Recently, he gave her a draft of an article he’d done for Rolling Stone. He had written, “As Obama tries to deal with the crisis, he will get no help from Republican leaders,” and after this she inserted the sentence “Worse yet, he’ll get obstruction and lies.”

Recently I heard someone describe the columnist divide this way: you’re either a Krugman person or a David Brooks person. Go figure: they’re my two favorite columnists, though I’ll confess I find fault with Brooks’ cautious conservatism far more often than I do with Krugman’s fire-breathing liberalism.

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  1. L.K. Collins

    “I’ll confess I find fault with Brooks’ cautious conservatism far more often than I do with Krugman’s fire-breathing liberalism.”

    How come this statement seems not to be a surprise?

  2. I have an economist friend who is liberal (a WSJ editorial called her a “socialist” once) who was pretty down on Krugman when he first got the NYT gig. Based on his rep in liberal academic circles, she didn’t expect much from him.

    That has changed I think because of Bush, neo-conservatism, crony capitalism, and any sense of moderation in late stage capitalism. The world has run off its rails. Krugman had to step up and change because the times have demanded it, plus he can put ink on one of the most important pages in journalism.

  3. Sean Griffin

    Each has a column up today in the Times. Krugman tells you what happened and what it means, and Brooks writes a classic piece of fan fic (or speculative fiction).

  4. Laurence Glavin

    The Wall street Journal has a front-page story on the currency speculators who are placing “bets” that could ultimately imperil world economies. While genteel columnists pick nits, the real enemies of the people are running wild!

  5. Mary DeChillo

    I have been receiving the NY Times, for over 30 years, since college. I have enjoyed Krugman and Brooks for both their writing styles and the content they present. I have been noticing that Brooks has using sociology, psychology and history to explain his ideas. And it appears that the more strident Brooks has given way to a more reflective middle-aged Brooks who has come to see human issues in deeper shades of grey than with a ideologically charged lens as he seemed to use in the past. Perhaps the vicissitudes of being a father and the realization that luck is the wild card that determines and directs most people’s lives (luck on what brain chemistry and intelligence you are born with, luck on who you were born to and where you were born, luck on who you meet to help you on the way)may have softened him. In any event he and Krugman are gems. He may be a conservative, but he doesn’t stoke an ideological hard-edged fire. He actually engages in diaglogue if you watch him on the Newshour on PBS.

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