The Princeton professor and New York Times columnist says his interjection is "sometimes, um, necessary?"
photo credit: commonwealth.club
EADERS OF New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have noticed on his blog a ratcheting up of the economist's considerable intellectual artillery with his frequent use of the sarcastic and often deadly "um" response to challenges from the opposition, or even to questions from an adoring public.
One reader, who wished only to be identified by his blogging handle "krugmanite," or face what he called "the wrath of 'um'," said that the "intense" uptick in Krugman's highly sarcastic interjection left him "feeling weak all over, like someone had sucked the blood out of me while I wasn't looking. And he hasn't even directed them at one of my comments. Yet, anyway."
Some analysts conjecture that Professor Krugman's recent Nobel Prize accolade may have emboldened the brilliant economist to "come out with linguistic guns blazing," especially against colleagues who don't have a Nobel to brandish.
"It's a bit aggressive from the likes of a mild-mannered economics professor, but I guess I should have seen it coming," said an anonymous economist whose theories had recently been wholly debunked on Krugman's blog with the terse but deadly, "Um, not really."
"He's always had a sarcastic strain in him," continued the vanquished professor, "like when we recently met over lunch, he said to me with that impish look in his eye, 'I'm sure you wouldn't dream of reconsidering Keynesian economics in light of the recent financial meltdown?' as if I hadn't considered it in the first place! But I thought perhaps he was just kidding around. Now I see that he was just getting warmed up."
One blog commenter named "PKditto" recently quit contributing after this ruinous exchange:
PKditto: Professor Krugman, could you show us some data on the so-called Reagan-era recovery that would put the matter to rest once and for all?
Krugman: Um, I think I did that just last week. But I guess you weren't paying attention? I'm kind of, um, you know "busy," seeing how I write a twice-weekly column for a little-bitty paper called The New York Times, and teach at, um, Princeton?and give lots of speeches all over the world. But maybe I should give you a break, since you haven't yet won a Nobel Prize. Or have you, and maybe I never got the memo?
PKditto: I'm very sorry, Professor, I see the data now, thank you.
Krugman: Um, I'm so glad you see the data. You should get a Nobel Prize for looking one week into the archives.
PKditto: With all due respect, I don't think I deserve that sarcasm. I was in the hospital all last week and only now returned to reading your blog.
Krugman: The hospital. Well stop the presses.
PKditto: Did you really say that?! As it happens, my being hospitalized mattered to quite a few people.
Krugman: Wow. Quite a few people. You know, when I'm in the hospital, it matters to millions of people. But, I'm sure your "quite a few people" could fill a whole elevator car.
PKditto: I think I've had about all I'm going to take of your sarcasm, even if you did win a Nobel Prize.
Krugman: Well, um, tootle-oo.
Professor Krugman was probably available for comment, but no one wanted to get um'd.
© 11.25.09 Kate Heidel