Ignorance Is Strength

Feb 13, 2017 · 556 comments
Diana (Seattle)
Taking nothing away from the larger message, I went from your column directly to two other stories in The Times which used the Prime Minister's names exactly opposite from you. Thought I was getting clear on a topic that even your own newspaper's writers aren't.
dsjump (lawtonok)
Before we reach the point where Big Brother comparisons become as knee-jerk and passe as Hitler comparisons, I suggest we set aside our dystopian novels and return to Mark Twain when he said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; it's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Trump has more in common with the snake-oil salesmen and P.T. Barnums of Twain's day than he does with the Stalinist disinformation machines of Orwell's nightmares. I reckon there's still time for the tar-and-feathers solution. We've got a ways to go before we're all toasting phony victories with Trump gin and muttering tearfully, "I love Big Donald."

On the other hand, did that quote really come from Twain, or was it Lincoln or Will Rogers? Maybe it was Kellyanne. It's...getting..so...hard...to remember.
Elizabeth Vitez (44138)
Thank you Mr. Krugman. You tell the truth. Please keep pounding at these issues and write the truth over and over how very bad it is in the White House. I write over and over on Facebook: 45 lies, lies, lies. 45 is a fear monger, fear monger, fear monger. 45 apparently doesn't know the Constitution or the Bill of Rights or can't repeat the Preamble to the Constitution like school children can. 45 doesn't know how to spell. According to reports 45 doesn't read therefore doesn't gain knowledge. Yes, this is all very scary. May I add that the New York Times and all other publications NEVER put 45's name in a headline for he likes to see his name in print or any place.
CW (Left Coast)
George W. Bush made the same error with Kim Jong Il, referring to him as "Mr. Il." The party of stupid has earned its reputation.
Karen Porter, Indivisible Chapelboro (Carrboro, NC)
I'm sorry, Paul, but be honest: Dumb people won because dumb people voted for them. Hillary had the "deplorables" thing right.
John Tobey (Southern California)
Do they not even remember Charles Dickens' brilliantly written warning in A Christmas Carol? -- "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."
Jay (Brea, Ca.)
If you voted for Trump...or even if you didn't vote at all...you've got a fool for president. If you got past the first so-called "debate" without thinking the male candidate didn't have a chance, you could be forgiven, as should the mainstream press, for considering such a performance unfit for any national consideration. Then again, readers of this paper would be unlikely to have ventured very far into the alter-universe of fabricated press releases conjured up by what passes for "news" on Fox and Breitbart, Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, et al. How could anyone but Michael Moore have raised the alarm that the country is divided along "fact" lines and Trump, incompetent blowhard that he is, could become our president?
Gerard (PA)
To illustrate the basis for the fear
Bush II was elected in part because he was more personable and less intellectual than Gore: the sort of guy you can have a drink with.
There was no connection between Iraq and 9/11; there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; Bush believed alternative truths that led to the war, the deaths, the rise of ISIS. Folksy ignorance got us into this mess, it will not lead us out.
Manuel (Ohio)
This President & his administration, as well as its supporters apparently have no awareness of the need for simple competency in daily operation to advance their half-baked, sometimes dangerous policies. Hostage to conspiracy theorists (& a Rasputin-like advisor who believes we are headed for an Armageddon-style showdown w/China & Iran), President Drumpf doesn't realize instead of "draining the swamp" , he & his Cabinet instead are making it into an alligator farm.
Meanwhile McConnell & Ryan are trying to legislate us into Ryan's Ayn Rand-like world where "nothing is free", & compassion for others is for wimps & sissies. God deliver us from these self-imagined John Galts. Atlas Shrugged readers will recall that John Galt's aim was to "stop the engine of the world". Ryan's economic proposals may do that for the US economy, if not that of the World.
Sherry Jones (Arizona)
Even so-called informed politicians like George W. Bush took the attack on 9-11 by Saudi nationals and turned it into an attack on innocent Iraq, costing the US Treasury over $3 trillion, where over 4,000 American died, and a Sunni-Shia quagmire remains. What ill-conceived and tragic reaction will Trump have to a terrorist attack, who is surrounded by people like Bannon who does not think terrorist attacks are horrendous crimes, but rather the clash of civilizations?
Steve Hunter (Seattle)
So the dumb elected the dumb. Stupid is as stupid does.
Patrick (Long Island N.Y.)
Trump is the Opposite of George Washington.
Robert (New York)
Concerning, "anti-intellectualism" and "hostility toward 'elites'," wasn't it the east coast intellectuals and "elites" who wrote the Constitution in the first place?
Matt (RI)
This isn't funny anymore. Hold your loved ones close. Say your prayers.
Nat Ehrlich (Ann Arbor)
But Dr. Paul, the President's authority WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED!!
The root cause of President Bonespur's anti-intellectualism is his lack of experience being a person who ever had to worry about money. Developmental psychology recognizes that there are critical periods for the development of critical behaviors; if a person reaches age 15 or 16 without ever knowing what it's like to worry about having enough money to get through the next month, or week, or day, it's highly unlikely that they will ever understand what that's like.
Not just Trump. Romney had the same 'born on third base, thought he hit a triple' syndrome.
Only if a life-threatening experience comes along in adulthood can a person learn empathy for those less fortunate. FDR was born rich, and acted much like Trump and Romney, until his polio took away his life below the waist.
Trump will, sadly, remain Trump for the rest of his life.
Anonymous (Lake Orion)
Ok, people. Far more important is a name for a Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor. I propose Orange Nut, Orange Repeal, Wall Nut. Anyone?
Loretta Marjorie Chardin (San Francisco)
Much of the electorate doesn't read the NY Times, or get similar, factual news. The right-wing corporations dominate the media in many parts of the country. Instead of "preaching to the choir," we need a "blitzkrieg" of pamphlets with columns like Krugman's or Blow's to rain on middle America!!!!
Madeleine215 (The Bronx)
BTW is the Times aware that some guy who was at the dinner is posting pictures of what happened at 45's resort on his FB page? Pictures PM Abe and his staff, staff using cell phone lights so they can see, and one of 45 so far.

But doggone it those emails!
OldProf (Bluegrass,Kentucky)
Half of all Americans have an IQ under 100, and they disproportionately voted for Trump. He fulfilled his campaign promise to speak for them...ignorantly and incompetently.
Robert McKee (Nantucket, MA.)
The baseball player who got elected to the Hall of Fame for making the most errors in the field and the most strike-outs at bat...Who was that again?
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
Facts always get you in the end. Ask the Nazis. Ask the Soviets. Ask W.
Rufus (SF)
The tragedy does not lie with Mr. Trump and his band of merry kleptocrats. Rather the tragedy is that there are enough ordinary, ignorant people who swallow this swill that they can pass for something close to a majority.

THAT is the problem of ignorance which must be addressed somehow.
Toronkawa (Tarrytown, NY)
War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength
EC17 (Chicago)
Ingnorance is bliss. IMO, from reading it seems that DT does not read anything which is why he creates his own facts. If you don't read, you don't know so you can make up what you want.

DT has got to be removed from office, so does Pence, Bannon and his death squad captain Stephen Miller and then the slimy Ryan who just wants to keep ringing the register for money in the bank from gov't contracts.

Seeing some of the video of the Abe's with the Trump's, the lack of courtesy and decorum from the Trump's was disgusting. One showed the Trump's walking out of the buidling with the Abe's following behind. But the Abe's had to bend over backwards to make pals with Trump. The world is so precarious right now, and Japan between North Korea and China, for the balance of power needs the US in their corner.

Krugman and Reich can write all they want, but the mechanisms have to start to get rid of DT and his henchmen, they all are despicable in their own way. Things have to get started before DT changes the whole legal system in his favor.
Larry N (Los Altos CA USA)
Speaking of incompetence, more should be said about Stephen Miller:

Senior Policy Adviser to the President
The vast experience of a 31 year old
An arch conservative since CHILDHOOD

For whom we might adapt the great question from the past, "What does he know and when did he know it?"!!
gio (west jersey)
Oh Mr. Paul....you funny.

Competent voters might not elect you either. Since the majority of participants in our election process don't care about any of this, you and your smart people should go back to teaching and let us get back to making this place great again.

Logic, reason, and an understanding of the complex web of international commerce and affairs got us into this mess. Time to fix it the old fashion way.
reader (Maryland)
"But meanwhile, who’s in charge? Crises happen, and we have an intellectual vacuum at the top. Be afraid, be very afraid."

This is deja vu all over again. Didn't I hear that after the 2000 elections?
John Griswold (Salt Lake City Utah)
John Oliver had an incisive analysis last night (Last Week Tonight, HBO) of the ignorance that pervades the Trump "administration". Apparently Trump watches a lot of TV, particularly cable "news". Oliver showed the nearly contemporaneous spew of "news" on Fox, Brietbart, and Infowars, and the presidential tweeting of that "news" on the official Twitter feed. Oliver will insert commercials this week on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC that contain Policy 101 facts to help the new president get up to speed on topics like the Nuclear Triad, voter "fraud" and the like;)
Jack N (Columbus, OH)
I fear that he and his Republican allies will find a pretext to go to war to raise his dismal approval ratings. Though we've seen this movie before, it's more likely with a narcisist who has low impulse control. TERRIFYING!
lechrist (Southern California)
We can assume that SCOTUS ans WHISTLE-BLOWERS are able to take care of these frightening issues, tout de suite.

SCOTUS: You have the proof that the Trump campaign (including Trump and Pence) fiddled with the election via the Russians and Comey. Time to call a state of emergency. The tainted election means a new election for president/vice president must be held. Do this ASAP before it is too late.

WHISTLE-BLOWERS: time to step up with the facts on Trump's tax returns, true health status, Russian connections, even college records (did he hire test takers?).

The United States leads the world and we need to show how to deal with a mistake and restore democracy.
VMB (San Francisco)
I AM afraid, very afraid! What to do, what to do?
Cheekos (South Florida)
If a rational person were to host a VIP Couple, as guests for the weekend, wouldn't they be expected to realize that, with names like: Shinzo Abe and Ahki Abie, that the Family Name wight just possibly be..."Abe"? But, f course, the key word is: Rational Person!

https://thetruthoncommonsense.com
Leonard D (Long Island New York)
Mr. Paul, I feel your pain ! . . . and Thank You for your razor sharp insights on the past three weeks of “the inmates running the asylum” . . . three weeks - - “really” – ok – and a few days!
I embrace how your example of something as simple as “the proper and correct means of identifying and addressing a world figure as IMPORTANT” . . .
It is!
Having respect for leaders of the many countries on this over-crowded planet is essential for us all finding a way to move forward.
Japan is steeped in centuries of formal ritual and it is part of the fabric of their culture.
We should respect that . . . especially if we want to be respected ourselves – and this is only one example.
Moving forward, I understand that no matter how accurate and “fact-checked” correct you are and will be, will certainly be welcomed by all rational people – however – there’s that pesky 47% who will adhere to their own “manufactured alternative truths” . . . and I see no quantity of accurate rebuttal to this new “fake news” – to penetrate the blind belief in their fear driven ignorance. The fake news seems to be manufactured just like fast food is. . . lots of salt and other purposely crafted ingredients to make low quality food “taste good” and is practically addictive.
So, having the Trumpians choose between French Fries and Broccoli . . . well – There’s gonna be a lot of left over Broccoli !
We must find a path which is solution driven and not on the merits of “just truthful facts”.
john (Sacramento, CA)
Ignorance, dishonesty, corruption...how did we ever get here?
Apple Jack (Oregon Cascades)
"No science is immune to the infection of politics & the corruption of power."
- Jacob Bronowski

Of course, this administration of sociopaths would come back with this -"If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"

When Bronowski posited that what sets man apart from other creatures is his ability to formulate thoughts & systematically set out to advance & attain a specific goal with a melding of hand & mind, he was not thinking of a barnyard hierarchy as illustrated by this administration.
ChesBay (Maryland)
Our dumbbell-in-chief could have learned, from READING real news, how to approach the name of PM Shinzo Abe. Had he ever even heard of this man, previously? What a dangerous maroon. Abe is no doubt, relieved that that extremely uncomfortable visit is over. Don't expect to see him here, any time in the near future. Nobody wants to be in the same room with this creep, let alone actually touch him. Ick.
TheraP (Midwest)
Iz our Wite Hous capable of lerning?

Apparently not!
nilootero (Pacific Palisades)
Is anyone besides myself reminded of the corrupt Senator in GODFATHER 2 who, when speaking publicly, brutally mispronounces italian names, but when speaking in private reveals that he is quite capable of the correct pronunciation?
toomanycrayons (today)
It seems to be a common enough mistake, Mr. Paul, even amongst "so-called" scholars. I'm assuming, of course, that "Trump" and "Abe" are being given equal weight, not simply representing a demeaning familiarity in the latter case, in the following example:

'“I assume they don’t have a strategy yet, so Trump with Abe by his side was properly taciturn, surprisingly so,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, an Asia scholar at the Brookings Institution who served as President Barack Obama’s Asia adviser. “But that can’t hold. At some point you need to articulate a strategy.”'

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/12/us/politics/donald-trump-north-korea-...®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news
RBM (FL)
Yeah, and just look at the shambles that Trump has made of the stock market! Oh, wait...
Donald Ambrose (Florida)
Look at that tottering old Tante. She really has to cut back on the make-up. So over her head. All the king's men, well ,whelps would be more like it. Darth Miller , a weasel of 26 years? Blasting all those who dare question the power of his Excellency. General FYLNN-FLAM lying to everyone about his chummy conversations with friends BORIS and NATASCHA. The MOST best President the universe has ever seen. Yes Trumpolini is it time to send in the CLOWNS?,
Ken Shabby (Boston)
The Urine King knew this would not pass legal muster. It was red meat for his base and the opposition was just gravy to show that he an upstanding guy. Can anyone see a Trump resort property in any of these places? THAT is the point. This is not a ban at all ... if it was it would include an unnamed nation with the initials: SAUDI ARABIA. It's corruption ... it's extortion of other nations with the same demographic. How much do you think Saudi Arabia or Malaysia would pay Trumpco to stay off that list? Look for major deals or even outright payments into Trump's coffers from the Muslim world.

Nice country you got there ... shame if it showed up on the banned list.
PogoWasRight (florida)
If "Ignorance is Strength", then Trump has us in his gunsights.....Who is going to save us? His friends in China, or Israel, or Russia??? How has that been working out? I guess that is comparable to saying "ignorance is bliss", so that makes him the most blissful man in America. If that is where he happens to be. I suppose we could just call Bannon and find out..........Alec Baldwin is better at the part of Trump. And safer.....If "intellectualsim" is his goal, he is either too smart or too late....which will soon show up....
DJ McConnell ((Fabulous) Las Vegas)
"Remember all that talk about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan? If you do, please remind the White House, which hasn’t offered even a ghost of a concrete proposal."

Not only that, Mr. Paul, but what about the much-advertised Middle Class tax cut that he made it sound was supposed to come down hours; nay, minutes; no, SECONDS after he was inaugurated? All I've heard is crickets. Hey TRUMP! Where's my TAX CUT?

Or perhaps you never had any intention of doing either of these things, hmmmmmm? What else aren't you going to do? The better question probably is, what ARE you going to do for all those poor schlubs who voted for you?
Grandmom mary (Colorado)
Sean Spicer said the same thing in only a few words: "Well, that's what President Trump believes and he's not going to change that." So there! Your facts and analyses are irrelevant. Dark ages.
James Mc Carten (Oregon)
From families around their kitchen tables, from around the country that must pay their bills, and their TAXES, thirst for the knowledge that Trump paid his.
PB (CNY)
And this is exactly how the right-wing mission to "drown the government in the bathtub" is accomplished

Democracy has been devolving in the U.S. for quite some time, as the GOP has been narrowing its focus on the constituencies it wants to support with its policies and funding.

The GOP has long championed party over state. V.P. Pence proclaims he is "a Christian first, a conservative, and a Republican in that order" (no mention of America in the priority of his loyalties). President Donald maintains he is doing all the inept, incompetent, and mean-spirited things he is doing to please/pander to "his base."

So the Republicans have narrowed the constituency they are attempting to please from Party, to Christian-Conservative-Republicans, and finally to white men with no college degree (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/10/when-we-talk-a....

Who better to determine government policy on public education, climate change and energy, economics, science, health, and justice than all those low-education, white, male Trump fans!

And who better to drown each of these government agencies in the bathtub than Trump's (fake wood, laminated) cabinet? DeVos, Pruitt, Perry, Minuchin, Price, Sessions…!

Motto for the Trump Administration and Republican Party:
Absolutely determined and fully dedicated to NOT MAKING AMERICA GREAT!

And the ignorant shall inherit the Earth--and have
DKM (Middleton, WI)
Ignorance is bliss for this administration.
Ignorance IS The Trump Brand.
And his supporters and base are buying the brand Big League!
brupic (nara/greensville)
this is pathetic, but not new. americans have been doing it for decades.....for example, nelson rockefeller called pierre trudeau--true dew, instead of true dough. trudeau, justin's father, was the PM of canada from 1968-84 with an interruption of almost a year in 1979-80. canadians have heard the national anthem mangled at sporting events by americans who didn't know the melody/words. marines from buffalo--which is on the border with canada--carried the canadian flag upside down. ted cruz, born in canada, said he had knowledge of canada during his debate with bernie sanders and then called the leader of canadian provinces governor instead of premier......europeans thousands of miles away often know more than canada's closest neighbour does about their largest individual trading partner
Ron Abrams (Baltimore, MD)
Don't blame Donald Trump! There are 60+ Million Folks who think like him but will never have his wealth or much else!! Times are changing and they ain't!!!
Joanne Klein (Clinton Corners, NY)
Charles Blow's Op-Ed: The Power of Disruption says it perfecty: Classless Cretins.
JFP (NYC)
KIngs don't have to bother with such trite formalities.

Small government conservatives now have a royal battering ram
that allows them to enact their reactionary agenda. Suddenly a
mighty executive who can't be held to account, who hogs up and
centralizes all power is starting to sound like a pretty good system after
all.
The elder statesman, John McCain remembers his history and recognizes
the peril of this tyranny but the newbies on the job are besides themselves
with glee. Nothing and no one to answer to! WHOOPEE !

Bannon has called Trump "a blunt instrument". An instrument that will allow
for the Breitbart / Alex Jones, psychotic right to gut the system of checks and
balances and run roughshod over the constitution. Next target: Voting Rights.
NanaK (Delaware)
The people's ignorance is the dictator's strength!
Cheekos (South Florida)
I have noticed the same situation. It even gets more interesting when an Asian reverses his or her name, while in America, to compensate for American ignorance. So then, that same clerk, or your cab driver, scratches their head, meeting father and son, Lu Chin and David Lu. As my Dad used to say, "Sometimes you can't win for losing'!"

https://thetruthoncommonsense.com
reader (Maryland)
Ignorance is golden!
Richard (Madison)
But Dr. Paul, Trump and Co. weren't sent to Washington to, you know, govern. They were sent there to "blow things up." "Drain the swamp." "Upset the establishment." You don't need competence for any of that. You just need a wrecking crew, and maybe a full bulls in the china shop for good measure. So far everything is going according to plan. OK, maybe not that swamp part.
Anne (Delaware)
Why oh why isn't there some one briefing him on a little basic manners and protocol when he hosts other leaders??
Enobarbus37 (Tours, France)
Mr. Krugman, you cut your teeth on foreign policy in the pages of the Times. Tell us what you think about NATO's actions in Eastern Europe and the Ukrainian Civil War. There are loads of American troops there, and billions of American dollars. Are we all Crimeans now? Should we put more American troops into Ukraine? Should we not rest until Crimea is "restored" to Ukraine?

"Defense" expenditures, though they are a poor man's fiscal stimulus, are a sucking chest wound on our society. We would have gotten a lot more of the same from President "We came, we saw, he died," Clinton. Is that what you want?
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Ks)
Once they come for the intellectuals..... in trumpworld, intellectual means you can read. Above a forth- grade level. Yikes.
Jose (Arizona)
Don't be afraid, in 2018, VOTE!
Dmj (Maine)
And in the face of this the stock market keeps rising.
Lambs going to the slaughter.
AG (Calgary, Canada)
I am torn as to whether Trump(ery) is the new Messiah or the Ayatollah.
Gabriel Maldonado (NYC)
Anti-intellectualism, the outright rejection of science, reason, and the power of accumulated hard fought knowledge, is NOT SOMETHING APPEARED OVERNIGHT. It's been the reality in the front lines of our society: in schools, in churches, in local political discussion, in pretty much all state and city politics. Those of us involved in researching and educating have documented since the 80's a deep and vast medieval world view dominated by rabidly literalist religious superstitions, antiscience, anti-humanistic, antireason perspectives. Those of us that live cocooned in our progressive, highly educated coastal cities may never encounter such reality but you need not go too far north of NyC to be in Bible Belt America. We have ignored these forces of ignorance way too long: and the battleground of Education we have list with trivial concerns about math and reading scores while neglecting the essence of a great education which is to teach how to think critically. And the weaknesses of our educational system have creeped outwards and infested groups like liberal antivaxxers, and SUV mommies who have given credence to the ADHD epidemic; a judicial system replete with processes and evidence that have no validity whatsoever; vast portions of our health protocols with little evidence to support them; SPED interventions in schools known NOT to work, etc etc. We have allowed this to happen and now our political system has caught up with us.
Artreality (Philadelphia)
If, indeed, "ignorance is strength", then Chump is stronger than Superman, and his cronies...Con-Way, Ban'em, Miller, and Spicey have more strength than the "Fantastic Four"
Nancy Broten-Munson (Elk Grove Village, Illinois)
Thank you, Paul Krugman. Keep writing, keep speaking out. We need your voice heard.
RJ (Londonderry, NH)
Paul must be very strong indeed...
ChasRip (New York, NY)
Everyone loves Trump bashing. But, meanwhile, it is what feeds him and his brand. You claim that the President has low approval ratings? He says your polls are phony. You claim his crowds were smaller than Obama's? He says you're making up fake news and disrespecting the Presidency. You claim he has acted illegally? He claims you're putting America at risk. The left still doesn't understand how to combat this anti-intellectualism. One can't argue with a toddler having a tantrum. It is the same with Trump and his supporters. They don't care about your "facts" because they simply ignore them. It's like trying to argue evolution with a creationist. At least Paul Krugman is starting to recognize that.
The Poet McTeagle (California)
If you don't like the Ignorance Is Strength part, wait till he gets to the War is Peace part.
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
Reminds me of when Jesse Helms referred to Kim Jong il as "Kim Jong The Second."
MRS (Little Rock, Arkansas)
This guy is exactly what he claims offers are...a political hack. He dares to claim others can't get a number right...LOL.
He all. It guaranteed the stock market would collapse if Trump were elected. Economics 101 would say otherwise.
This was the guy who famously said more risky loans needed to be made not long before the market collapsed. I know he won a Nobel prize but then so did Obama just for winning an election.
Richard Deforest (Mora, Minnesota)
You are there upon my awakening,
You are there when I go to Sleep.
You are the Ever Present President,
You are the constant ubiquitous Creep.

Every Day you are presented before my Eyes,
Not a moment goes by You Aren't there.
I tolerate the vision of your extended long Ties,
I enjoy Melanie, but I can't Stand Your Glare.

Please, Mr. "President", go Do some Work,
I'm so Tired of seeing your Face.
It would be Easier if you Were Not such a Jerk,
I wouldn't have to See it all over the Place!
Robert Cohen (Atlanta-Athens GA area)
Do Japanese & Americans worry about POTUS' embarrassing faux pas(?)

It would seem so because it (may) indicate ignorance & incompetence.

Because If such small, simple stuff isn't part of White House culture, then does DJT get substantive policy nuances?

The ole man was expressing the USA backing of Japan, and yet he boo-boos, which reinforces to Japan & America that our nation has become ... semi-lame.

And (apparently) because cynical radio talk shows & Fox News perhaps haven't told their high rated audience about the ... error, the folks whom elected him (perhaps) just don't get what they've done until SNL parodies such.
2cents2 (Colorado)
"I do, I do, I do believe in spooks." I am as afraid as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, but we shall overcome our fear with COURAGE because we are Kings and Queens of our forest. In the mean while, this guy needs to be stopped in his tracks. This is serious business. I'm still in total shock that he is POTUS.
Larry (St. Paul, MN)
But the anti-intellectuals do have their limits. They would never consider Donald Trump as head football coach for their favorite major college or professional football team, no matter how bad that team had been performing. If you suggested as much, they'd look at you like you were out of your mind, and not because he's currently busy with other things.
JBL (Detroit, MI)
Mr. Krugman, this may be the single most powerful message you've ever delivered within your NYT column. Absolute ignorance being totally rewarded.
jerry wayne (toluca, mexico)
So, we get a Sarah Palin administration after all.
Jack Connolly (Shamokin, PA)
"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”--Dr. Isaac Asimov, January 21, 1980, in Newsweek.

Donald Trump is the current leader of that cult of ignorance. Never have I seen a political figure more uninformed, lacking in curiosity, and lacking even basic skill with the English language. Congress needs to grow a spine and to impeach him immediately. Lacking that, Mr. Pence and the satanic rodeo clowns in the Cabinet need to invoke the 25th Amendment as soon as possible. Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the safety and welfare of the United States. Remove him--NOW! #NotMyPresident #RESIST
Ace (Illinois)
The arm chair quarterbacks have finally taken over. Be afraid... be very afraid.
John Reis (Chattanooga)
Oh, I'm afraid alright, yes, very afraid.
Fred White (Baltimore)
Don't just be afraid of Trump the vacuum. Be afraid of how Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, Shel Adelson, and the Israel Lobby have turned Trump into a Manchurian Candidate for Likud Israel by filling the vacuum between Trump's ears with a Middle Eastern foreign policy that turns him into Bibi's ventriloquist's dummy. Never in human history has a tiny country like Israel literally bought control of the legislature and executive of a great power the way the American people have blithely let Israel do in America. The booboisie deserves what Israel is going to give them: a war in Iran to "protect" Israel that will be much, much more disastrous than the idiotic war to "protect" Israel from Saddam Hussein launched by Wolfowitz and friends the last time we had a Republican vacuum in the White House.
jkj (Pennsylvania RESIST ALL Republican'ts)
I feel that this is a bad dream and please pinch this country to wake us up. By the way, is it over, yet?!

How did we go from a very qualified person good person President Obama, not to mention incredibly qualified President Hillary Clinton (remember election stolen and she won by almost 3M votes) to the most UNunqualified "person" in history?! NOT a president ever!

The Republican'ts and Trumpet DON'T belong there and never will and have!
Freedom Furgle (WV)
Lovely colum, but you forgot Trumps unpresidented attempt to murdur the englush langwage!
John LeBaron (MA)
"If they're so dumb, how come they won?" Um-m-m, perhaps it's because, as a body politic, we have become dumbed down to the collective IQ of fence posts. That's how autocrats like their minions. They LOVE the uneducated. Remember? Of course not!

Thank you, news media for your help carrying out the plutocrats' agenda.

www.endthemadnessnow.org
KT (Providence, Rhode Island)
Isaac Asimov warned 35 years ago: The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
M. (Seattle)
20,000 Dow. Chew on that.
Dave Brown (Denver, Colorado)
Mr. Paul, I read an article in this week's Economist magazine explaining the benefits, which somewhat out weigh the negatives of NAFTA. Maybe I missed your comments? Can you explain the negatives if Mr. Donny does get cancellation of NAFTA? Other than oil, what sectors of our importing and exporting will be most affected? thank you.
Rob and Sue (Skillman, NJ)
Kudos, Paul! Way to keep the negativity flowing! I know, it's how you pay the bills....I get it. Let's show the world how divided we are....that's a great way to make sure we won't have a U.S.A to fight about anymore. Do you see yourself as Hari Seldon? It's all starting to make sense....the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire.
R Nelson (GAP)
Sign seen at a protest:
"Ship of State" crossed out, and beneath,
"Ship of Fools."
Paul Rossi (Philadelphia)
T rump and the Republicans want us to be afraid. It's now time to get angry.
David G (Monroe, NY)
Trying not to sound like a broken record...

I'm mad at the Republicans for giving us this imbecile.

But I'm furious with Democrats who couldn't put Hillary's 'transgressions' past them, or were still angry about Bernie -- and voted for Jill (see, I'm using first names too) or stayed home.

Can you imagine how relatively serene things would be now if some people had just held their noses and checked the box for Hillary?
ed penny (bronx, ny)
So are ignorant useful idiot Neo-Liberals like Hilary and her Husband.
Gary Hanson (Kansas City)
You defenders of Trump with your comments are simply ignorant.
KarlosTJ (Bostonia)
"Ignorance is Strength"

Paul Krugman is very familiar with this idea.
ecco (connecticut)
the trumpers maybe fish in a barrel dr k, but keep up the mindless shooting and you'll end up with a barrel full of holes.
Carole G (NYC)
Perhaps one of your most accurate and depressing columns and a terrible way to start the week. Is there anything that can be done to have your column appear Tuesday instead of Monday?
Hypatia (California)
"[H]ostility toward 'elites' who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought." Professor Joan C. Williams nails this in her article in the Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-worki...

One of the most important takeaways from this piece: "Worse, her [Hilary Clinton's] mere presence rubs it in that even women from her [professional] class can treat working-class men with disrespect."
Hannah (Stejnbok)
I wouldn't call the NYT ignorant or incompetent. They know exactly how to skew the facts and do so incessantly. The president has the right to deny entry to anyone. This is a right every country in the world has and uses. You quote somebody who decided that was wrong, but in fact, HE is wrong. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/06/15/donald-tr...
Our schools are a disaster, the worst of any developed country, even after Obama threw tons of money at them.
The stock market is hitting all time highs. He's been in office, what, a month? And you are saying he's incompetent because he hasn't solved the infrastructure yet IN ALL THAT TIME, while Obama had EIGHT YEARS to do so?
Millions are losing their health insurance because they can't afford the premiums, even under your beloved Obamacare.
His approval rating is bad? Really? Let's check the facts, shall we? http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/political_update...

You pick and choose for you biased reporting. This is not reporting, it's propaganda. You make me sick.
T.C (N.Y.C)
I didn't think anti-intellectualism could get worse, but it has. As I read a few days ago:
we thought we hit rock bottom until we heard someone knocking from below.
Peter C (Ottawa, Canada)
"It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

Douglas Adams, author of "Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy".
Kodali (VA)
Ignorance is strength in alternate world. America is half way there.
Davitt M. Armstrong (Durango C O)
Ignorance is deplorable.
Willful ignorance is detestable.
m. m. (ca.)
Understandably, the New York Times would never print it, but a more appropriate title for this piece would have been, Stupid is Strength. One can grow out of ignorance by acquiring knowledge. There is no cure for stupid!
Rw (canada)
Given Steve Miller's Sunday performances (King Trump's power shall not be questioned by anyone, any court)....I really will not be able to stomach any republican criticism of the left's "over reaction", "hysteria" over trump's anti-democratic, autocratic speech, actions, tendencies, and Muslim ban executive order. If republicans do not come out today in force and scream loud and clear against Miller's statements, against trump's tweet: "Congratulations Stephen Miller on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!"..then America, it'll be time to man the barricades. You can see these people running the big house are setting up the public to swallow this dictatorship in the making. Things are getting worse.
DK (Roberts, WI)
"Ignorance is strength." One of the tenets in "1984."
Jay (Brooklyn)
Why did Agent Orange win? He didn't...HRC lost. She won the popular vote by a 3mm vote margin, she lost the electoral vote because her campaign made strategic blunders.

I agree with Mr Krugman's comment that "Bigotry wasn’t the only dark force at work in the election; so was anti-intellectualism, hostility toward “elites” who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought." It's much easier not to think and have all of your visceral biases confirmed.
MJL (Toledo, OH)
Yawn...another rant by Krugman over Trump. What's the crisis going to be tomorrow; what he had for breakfast? The constant ranting is sounding a lot like the "hate" speech the other side is being accused of spreading. How about something constructive?
Beatrice ('Sconset)
I read the body language & facial expression/affect in the photograph by Al Drago/The NYTimes of Mr. Trump, accompanying Paul Krugman's column.
The man looks very sad. It elicits a feeling of pity in me, not anger.
howiewmg (New York, NY)
Agree completely-only one small nit to pick. I wish the headline writer had gone with "The Audacity of Dope"
James Murphy (Providence Forge, Virginia)
Right on! The question is: how does one get those who voted for Trump to believe it and, more importantly, do something about it?
Gerry (St. Petersburg Florida)
Trump just about always loses in court, or settles before getting there.

Early in the campaign he said, "I never settle lawsuits. I always win."

Another obvious, provable Trump lie, of course. He often settles, and he often loses. However, whether he settles or loses, he always claims to have won.

In the end, this 70 year old man is nothing but Roy Cohn's well trained Rottweiler. He makes a lot of noise, bites everybody who comes too close and scares a lot of people, but when you want it to do something it just stands there are barks at you.
Equilibrium (Los Angeles)
Yep.

White is black, black is white
Up is down, down is up.
Right is left, left is right.
Good is bad, bad is good.
Real is fake, fake is real.
Education is ignorance, ignorance and gut feelings are knowledge and truth.
Wrong is right, right is wrong.
Experience is cluelessness, cluelessness is cheerfully follow the blissfully ignorant leader who is absolutely certain his Executive Orders – Ahem, royal proclamations – will solve everything, and provide for his ultimate escape, because 'those people' – whomever shall be his scapegoat – would not do what he said to make america great again.

Twilight Zone anyone?
Shaheen 15 (Methuen, MA)
Stop giving him (the President) the publicity he relishes.
janye (Metairie LA)
The big problem is with ignorant voters, not with ignorant administration members.
Robert Levine (Malvern, PA)
Mencken's prophesy of rule of the boobocracy has come to pass.
Karen (Ithaca)
Didn't Trump make fun of Obama for bowing "too low" to someone? At least Obama always knew the appellation by which to address visitors and world leaders. Among many other things.
llj (NV)
I have been afraid from the moment the media announced that Mr. Trump had won the election.
David dennis (Michigan)
Mr. Krugman is the Best. It's too bad that our country is being run by the angry, the ignorant, and the clueless.
Julia (Indiana)
I agree. 100%.
Gary Behun (Marion, Ohio)
Be interesting to see how America turns out for the next four years of ignorance, lies and lack of expertise about anything. Don't forget Trump's supporters and the Republican Party want it this way.
Ken Campbell (Vancouver,Canada)
I fear a cultural revolution!
AC (USA)
Stephen Moore wrote a book in 2005 titled "Bush's Ownership Society, How it Makes America Strong". At Amazon it is curiously misspelled 'Owenership Society'. Around 2013 he had a follow-up book, published only as an audio book as it was apparently pulled before printing, titled "How Bush, Obama and Pelosi Wrecked the Economy" or something along that line. As Krugman notes, Moore remains one of the leading right wing 'experts' on economics.
Eddie Lew (New York City)
Mr. Krugman, it' a right in The United States to be stupid, it's even a badge of honor in some quarters. And you wonder how we got a stupid president?
marianne stevens (british columbia)
To understand Trump - as many superb analysts, opinion writers, bloggers & commenters have done - one must get inside the mind of an angry teenager, kicked out of school for fractious, hyperactive & bullying behaviour & finally, flung from the family nest into military boarding school. (Wasn't this once called "reform school" in the good, old days? Or "school for delinquents" when the family could no longer deal with the repeated acting out behaviour, crises & drama?

That this man-child with all the observable characteristics of a highly disturbed adolescence & the consequences of military school (as discipline) could attain such a position in the US, bringing his brutal gang along with him, is unfathomable, dangerous, has put the entire world on alert. The media has been unable to confront this unstable person in any credible way, thus must bear responsibility for the mess they have helped create. He is part of the media because of his insatiable need for attention & their inability to confront him on the issues; he has played them at their own game & now they stand, accountable for their part in facilitating his path to victory. He is their biggest draw & now he is in their face - just like he was when he was at home with his parents. Dividing & conquering, causing havoc, drawing attention to himself. This is a man damaged to his core who has never changed - & at age 70 will never change.

The horse has indeed left the barn. What now can/will be done?
Arizona Professor (Phoenix)
Dr. Krugman,

Please add "competent education experts" to your list of those who could/should be consulted by the Trump administration. They could provide profound insights about the inappropriate (to say the least) pick for secretary of education.
mgaudet (Louisiana)
Trump thinks that he can appoint cabinet members who will be his lieutenants in business, but the USA is not a business run for profit. It is a nation bound by laws that we must all follow, even him.
Steve Kremer (Yarnell, AZ)
Dr. Krugman,

I fear that you have firmly ensconced yourself in the ranks of the "sore losers" and "blamers."

Following the election, I believe that Democrats have divided themselves into three camps of explanation. They are the following:

Camp 1: The American electorate is stupid, ignorant, deplorable bigots that at best can be regarded as "suckers" who have been conned.
Camp 2: Donald Trump, (lacking in so many ways), IS in fact a political genius.
Camp 3: Obama and Clinton are epic failures in political leadership.

Of course, there is an amalgam of reasoning that comes from all three camps to explain the election of Donald Trump as President. BUT the camp with the least likely explanatory force is the First Camp. And this is the camp that Dr. Krugman seems to speak from and for. The camp of pouters and sore losers that remain largely in denial. (We can forgive them their grief.)

Americans are not stupid, ignorant, or bigoted. How could you possibly explain the sudden and rapid descent into ignorance following the enormous landslide victory of Democrats and liberalism in 2008?

I would urge Dr. Krugman and other like-minded liberals to engage the hard reality of FACTS. Those facts include the undeniable epic failure of leadership from both Obama and Clinton. From 2008 to 2016 the American government has been transformed into a conservative and Republican hegemonic regime. It was not a series of accidents.

Please stop pouting, so we can "move on."
Andy (Virginia)
In the immortal words of Presidential Advisor Stephen Miller, "The President will not be questioned." I think that pretty wells sums it up.
Optionsguy (Staten Island)
Anti-intellectualism was a core complaint of George Orwell when, in 'The Road to Wigan Pier' he pondered why fascism was winning over socialism in 1930's Europe. His observation was that one of the biggest problems with socialism was the anti-social tendencies of socialists and the reality that, “...Traditions are not killed by facts.” The same is true today. Liberals will not prevail in our nation by just getting the people to understand what is needed. The reverse is true -- liberals need to understand the needs and desires of the people in order to work with them and prevail in this nation over the fascists. Right now they don't.
Kat Perkins (San Jose CA)
Kamikaze White House. Preparing for my first business trip to Japan, wanting to understand another culture, I learned this basic protocol. Besides doing business well, it shows respect and was fun to learn new norms. It is inexcusable for our top leaders to get this all wrong.
Bill Clary (Newburyport, MA)
Mr. Krugman - thank you for your articles and insights. I am interested in the tax overhaul plans now circulating in Congress. Do you have a link that discusses the benefits or problems with setting up a business tax on revenue, instead of net profits, perhaps a progressive tax in the range of 1% to 3%?
PH Wilson (New York, NY)
Anti-elitism is a bedrock of American political ethos. On the right, it now takes the form of anti-intellectualism and anti-cultural-snobbery. On the left it takes the form of anti-capitalism and anti-traditionalism. Americans love underdogs. Sometimes that mean they balk at "experts" or "consensus".

Both sides ignore facts and scientific rigor. This is not to argue equivalency (fair enough that this administration especially has taken it to a whole new level), but its a false dichotomy to claims the left is always the side of truth and fact.
Glennmr (Planet Earth)
Essentially the thugs won. Oh goody. The millennials and Gen X should be worried about a future with a fried climate and virtually no long-term plans for a reasonably civilized society.
Miffed in Mass (South Hadley)
What happens when alternative facts meet real world. Real world wins every time.
Stella (MN)
Trump was all over Mr. Abe like a cheap suit, continually patting him on the back and hugging him. Trump tries to force respect from others, but only achieves the opposite.
Jsbliv (San Diego)
I have noticed that conservative friends I have on social media have quieted down a bit in the weeks since the inauguration, and even calling the conservative judge who halted the "righteous" Muslim ban names is growing weaker. They had this concept that the ego-in-chief would sweep all the evil liberalism out of the country and rural America would be heard again. Well, as Gomer used to say, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!"

Not only can't they get names right, but necessary departments like the NSA are in shambles while the tweeter-in-chief and his top aides attack Nordstrom's instead of finding ways to assure people that their social security, Medicare and healthcare won't be taken away. And do we really need to spend 3 Million dollars of our money every time the putter-in-chief wants to play golf in Florida? Meanwhile, Putin just keeps pushing his expansionist agenda along, secure in the knowledge we will not oppose any move he makes any time soon.
me (<br/>)
The US is following the Peter Principle where people rise to their highest levels of incompetence. Thus our election results. Unfortunately, the so-called president is governing only to satisfy his base who are completely ignorant of facts (such as that the hated "Obamacare" which should be repealed and the Affordable Care Act health insurance that they want are one and the same). Kellyanne Conway, Liar-in-Waiting, is performing to please only her boss, so if she has a moral core it will remain closeted. I am waiting for the administration to implode; they seem to have formed a circular firing squad in the White House. Mr. Krugman and others just need the patience to let nature take its course. In the meantime, all eyes should be on the 2018 midterm elections. I hope instead of continuing to write about WH shenanigans and shortcomings, NYT columnists look ahead to 2018 and start writing about strategies for progressives to win those races.
Jack (Tiburon, CA)
The problem with this analysis is that "elites", after what Mr Krugman describes as "careful study and thought, have produced a series of huge failures. NAFTA/free trade were supposed to grow the economy. They decimated our manufacturing base and the middle class with it. Bank deregulation and elimination of Glass Steagle lead to a mini depression. Our foreign policy geniuses have caused us to be at war since 2003 creating chaos in the middle east. And the thoughtful President Obama added to the problems by utterly mismanaging Lybia and Syria.

I could go on. But the good news is that the folks who created the mess we are in are all terrific spellers.
C.L.S. (MA)
How quickly we forget. After 8 years of true intelligence in the White House (President Obama), we tend to have forgotten about George W. Bush and his administration, known particularly for their lack and disdain of intellect. I even recall, I think, Donald Trump himself once describing W. as being "if not the worst president in history, certainly the stupidest." Well, now we have Trump in the presidency, and I dare say he and his Republicans are again contending for the most stupid honors.
Bob Laughlin (Denver)
When a political party campaigns for decades on the notion that government itself is illegitimate we should not be surprised when given the reins of government they act accordingly.
When tyranny raises its rotten head the first casualties are the smart people. Then the compassionate people. Then the head turns on its own and will devour its base. I can't believe there are poor people who are willingly buying the stuff the GrOPe is selling.
Dean (US)
It was exactly this kind of disarray in a Know-Nothing new administration, suspicious of experts and outsiders, but unwilling to focus on complex, detailed information at length, that exposed us to 9/11. I am very worried that the real enemies -- not the immigrants and refugees who have been targeted -- will take swift advantage of this incompetent White House and inflict another such attack.
Lydia B (New Orleans)
As a young officer, I had the privilege of serving as "Chief of the Visitors' Bureau," a position that could be termed "Protocol Officer." What I didn't know, I looked up in various etiquette books, references written by the Dept of State (concerning foreign customs and honorifics), and military guidebooks for pomp and ceremony. One of my staff was a specialist on foreign affairs so that we could inform our own command how to greet dignitaries of various nations.

The point is, no one has any excuse for using impolite, mistaken, or egregiously insulting methods of communication with people from all over the world. The knowledge is available; learn it.

We are the "Ugly American" if we are ignorant......um, that is bigly, yuuugely ignorant of the Trumpet and his sycophants.
Jack and Louise (North Brunswick NJ, USA)
There is one stereotyped bigotry that can be proudly paraded, blared over Conservative news outlets, and pumped into political platforms: Anti-ECLEism. The hatred and intolerance against "East Coast Liberal Elites" is the one form of discrimination that all of Trump's subsets of supporters share.

It's also the reason that trump's supporters do not care if the entire nation descends into poverty, violence and war. At least they will have showed thos ECLEs - the ones who always looked down on them, acting as if they know something and are superior!

ECLEs and their companion political party, the Democrats, may be solid on the facts, the truth, and the predictions. But we would all succeed in reaching the anti-ECLEs a lot faster if we just followed the rules in Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People." I am not joking - just pick up a copy and you will see why Democrats and ECLEs consistently fail to connect.
robert grant (chapel hill)
I agree with Mr Krugman that anti-intellectualism found a lovely home in the Republican party at some point in the last 10 or 20 years, and that it played a role in Mr Trump's win. At the same time, it is a common refrain from liberal and left leaning commentators that the working class and rural population regularly vote against their own economic self interest. I also think this is true. But the reason typically given or implied ("They are so stupid" or "Stupid Southerners") I believe understates the importance of psychology in the decisions people make. I do think a significant percentage Trump voters wanted more than anything to send a "F*** You" to the American political ruling class and various elites. Democrats need an emotional reason for people to listen to their message, better facts will not change anyone's mind who voted against them. Mrs Clinton may or may not be a poor candidate, but her slogan "I'm with Her" had all the emotional appeal of two day old pizza.
BC (Renssrlaer, NY)
Political incompetence of epic proportions by Clinton and her inner circle explains this disaster. Dozens of campaign visits to NorthCarolina and none to Wisconsin sums it up. I know a number of well educated people who cannot face up to this inexplicable Clinton incompetence. Easier to blame them hillbillies. Mrs. Clinton and her team can no doubt look forward to many nice pay days. For the weakest and most vulnerable only suffering.
NoBigDeal (Washington DC)
When the REpublicans were in the Wilderness, they didn't sound like a bunch of whiners the way the Democrats do now. Elizabeth Warren, though with good intentions regarinding the CFPB, sounds shrill now, not intimidating. She's as intimidating as the girl crying wolf. Not very.
Sherman Lewis (Hayward CA)
Great column; totally agree. We need more conversations between moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans in swing districts so that enough Republican Congressmen will want to break with their leadership, or bring it along, to save the nation.
miriam (Astoria, Queens)
Anti-intellectualism in America is older than the Republic; the historian Richard Hofstadter found its earliest signs in the Great Awakening of the mid-eighteenth century.

Universal suffrage, with one vote for each adult, is necessary to safeguard the rights of non-elites, but it doesn't follow that truth itself can be determined by the greatest number of equal minds.

That is why, like E.M. Forster, I give two cheers to democracy.
Steve (Minneapolis)
The USA has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. Factory productivity is up, so some of these losses, maybe 1/3 can be explained by automation. If you take into account that most manufacturing jobs are located away from urban centers, there are probably 5 people per employee whose livelihood depends on those factories, as well. So you can estimate that 30 million people have had their severely lives disrupted by the outsourcing trend, many of them in the heartland and rural parts of America. I deal with factory automation for a living. The days of a worker doing repetitive tasks on an assembly line are mostly gone. But a factory with some automation still requires 600-3000 people to monitor, receive, ship, repair, account, engineer, supply the factory. The cost to automate beyond where we are today is usually prohibitively very high and very complex. For example, one area of the factory could be automated for $10 million, plus. Managers do the math and realized they can employ a lot of people at $10 per hour for many years before the $10 million investment makes sense. So they look for low hanging fruit. They realize they can pay people $2 per hour in Mexico, and $10-$15 per hour here. Boom. The factory is closed and moved, wiping out 1000's of people who depend on the factory. Blue collar folks, the original backbone of the Democratic party are now looked down upon with distain. Democrats, begin to stand up for these people and they will reward you.
Diogenes (Belmont MA)
Democracy, self-government, fails to work if citizens cannot read with a measure of skill and comprehension. It works poorly if there is a tradition of anti-intellectualism among the citizens. Currently that tradition has been strengthened in the United States by the decline of education, the growing influence of the mass media and tabloid and yellow journalism.

On learning that Trump was elected president, a renowned conservative political thinker said that the lower IQ half of the population must have voted for him. And 60 years ago, in response to a shout from the audience at a political rally that "all thinking people will vote for you", Adlai Stevenson, shouted back: "That's not enough, I need a majority."

These anecdotes, though a bit silly, support the proposition that mass society, which is vulnerable to rhetorical excess and propaganda, is not conducive to the future of democracy.
artzau (Sacramento, CA)
The Krug nails it again. Ignorance is bliss. Anti-intellectualism reigns and facts are no longer relevant. This observation is hardly new. Mencken denounced earlier in the last century. The religious right sees their knight with the orange comb-over helmet and huge gut-covering tie armor as protecting them from the snooty ivory towered educators who want to tell their children that snakes don't talk and biological evolution is an observed fact, not a myth.

One can understand greed in governing. Marx told us it forms the basis of hegemony. Like greed, ignorance is relative and we each have areas of being uninformed but here in this present regime we see both ignorance and greed being not only celebrated but mandated.
JPB (South Carolina)
The Trump administration can be seen as the "revolt of the plutocrats," who have grown impatient and tired from the incessant bleatings from members of Congress for more and more campaign funding. So, they've seized direct control of the government for themselves. Policymakers and statesmen are scarce in our Legislative branch. The "Obamacare" repeal is an example worth following. It's nothing more than a Congressional shakedown for more campaign funding from the insurance companies, big Pharma, and other players in the medical-industrial complex that passes for a health care system here in the United States. I hope that these corporate and other donors will withhold their contributions from Paul Ryan and his ilk, acknowledging their dependence on governmental funding, expertise, and regulation. If they were truly interested in health care, they would stop funding these parasites, and support candidates in the next cycle of elections who will bring us a system that works for all of the "people." So, with an Executive branch that is grossly inexperienced and ignorant of how good government works, and a Legislative branch addicted to campaign funding, that leaves only the Judicial branch to save us. Unfortunately, with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, law enforcement most likely will focus not on ensuring constitutional rule of law, but enforcement of the most questionable, mean-spirited, and petty of laws.
MNW (Connecticut)
The GOP has reached its diligently sought goal.
In the words of Grover Norquist:

""All we have to do is replace Obama. ... We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. [...]"
- Grover Norquist.

"Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared."
- Grover Norquist.

Grover and his ilk have found their useful idiot who has those useful "working digits".

Our job as the electorate - to include the business community - is to stymie this dangerous cabal in the midterm elections.
The main task of government and business entities is to thoroughly research the systems analysis and computer software used to control the election process.
The past election was hacked. Anything can be hacked.

Efforts to impeach Trump must begin, led by House Democrats and any House Republicans who have begun to realize what a dangerous Trump/Bannon combination presidency is all about.
First Trump and then Pence.
Jon (Murrieta)
We've seen the results when anti-intellectualism rules the day. The last time Republican voters "took their country back" was a disaster. Peace, prosperity and surpluses were turned into the opposite and we experienced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The Trump administration seems headed toward even worse outcomes because Trump is layering even worse policies and an even worse temperament onto generically bad Republican policies, which include fiscal and economic recklessness and aggressive foreign policy. What happens when Trump's bull-in-a-china-shop act causes trade wars and actual wars? What happens when the rest of the civilized world comes to despise the lying moral degenerate now inhabiting the White House?
Hari Prasad (Washington, D.C.)
Incompetence, malevolence, but also arrogance and contempt for values that are "liberal"/"globalist"/"international"/"humanitarian"/ ....(fill in any extreme right ranter's insult). Take Steve Miller's astonishing claim on cable TV yesterday that the Executive is supreme and the judiciary has no right to intervene in its chosen area. Or even more insulting of the intelligence of average Americans, his repeating the weird and absurd allegation of fraudulent votes for Democrats by illegal aliens. This Administration has already practically announced, more clearly than Richard Nixon ever did, that it will trample on the Constitution. Depending on the strength of the reaction by the people and of organization and leadership of resistance, the best hope for America is for the Democrats to take back Congress in 2018 and impeach Trump for any violations of law that would have occurred by then. Tragically, Trump and his government may have led the country by then into economic chaos and international conflict, irreparably damaged America's reputation, and harmed prospects of action on accelerating climate change to help ensure a livable world for the toddlers of today when they grow up.
Jim H (Orlando, Fl)
Yes, Trump looks to be significantly worse than expected, which is saying a lot. The Republican Party has lost pretty much all of its former intellectual integrity, even though that was always something of a sham.

But what do we do? Build fallout shelters? Move to Australia? The common sense proposition that the American people can figure out what's in their best interest and vote accordingly isn't true. We spend billions and billions on education (public and private) but critical thinking skills are stagnant or lagging and have been since the '60's.

The Democratic Party defends us with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Hmmm. We are going to need a lot of luck
JWL (Vail, Co)
Mr. Krugman, your column makes clear the failure of the Electoral College. The founders had clear sight, and prepared for the election of one unfit for the job of president. It was the responsibility of the electors to keep Donald Trump from the presidency, and they failed miserably. At this point, we can only hope to survive intact. How their idiocy will affect global markets, peace, medical care, immigrants, dreamers, the planet, we will wait to see, but frankly, given the people in charge, I have little hope.
Tom Walsh (Clinton, MA)
The Democratic party must be the party seeking for universal values; equality and opportunity under enforced law. Support for group interests must be left to interest groups. The NAACP must support African American interests. The Democratic party must support, among other issues, voting rights in all of its requirements. This must not be a near to election issue.
Kjensen (Burley, Idaho)
Having lived my entire life around the people who supported Donald Trump, their ignorance is built upon a simplistic worldview. Problems in the Middle East? Nuke 'em; The federal deficit? Eliminate welfare; Criminals? Lock them all up or hang 'em, Gay people? Perverts. Every problem has its simple jingoistic solution. Anyone who tries to explain complicated issues or nuance with regard to the real impact of such simplistic policies would have on government and people, are regarded with suspicion. Sadly, I have even run into college-educated people, who subscribe to these simplistic solutions to the world's ills. Of course to top it off, they believe after an apocalyptic event, Jesus will come to save everyone, so no need to worry about climate change or other things because they are either hoaxes or will be ultimately resolved after the Rapture. I have little faith that any type of logical persuasion will reach Trump supporters.
cljuniper (denver)
When I play a game, like tennis, I want to play with somebody better than me so I learn. Give me a life of continual learning, please. Humility to learn takes self-esteem and confidence in oneself. I was lucky to have great training in schools and by colleagues that humility is how to find the best answers; "the best scientist is the one that first refutes their own work" was a 1970s college lesson. Roughly since GOP's Voodoo Economics appeared in 1980 (easily disproven), the GOP has increasingly embraced foolhardy concepts, including regime change in the Middle East, and today's radical optimism (the opposite of "conservative") that future generations will find cost-effective technical solutions for the environmental problems we are consigning to them. GOP policies are too often based on fables, not facts. What's baffling is that so many voters don't see this - such that Democrats, the party of science and compassion, only control the executive and legislative branches in 5 states. My guess is that too many Americans have a vested interest in ignoring the inconvenient truths, whether from their hope that their adopted religious dogma is actually correct despite the lack of evidence, or that "free markets" (e.g. "market populism" as described by Thomas Frank's book One Market Under God, 2000) will solve 21st century problems since what people want, underneath, is maximal freedom for themselves..."me" not "we." Sad fate for such a powerful nation.
Irene Campbell-Taylor (Canada)
As aClinical Neuroscientist of several decades of experience, I believe that many, if not most, are missing a vital piece of evidence. I have had many brain damaged patients who are more articulate and better able to communicate that is Mr Trump and my first thoughts with such patients is, "are we looking at pathology or medication side effects?" Several psychiatrists and psychologists have given opinions as to the presence of personality disorder but it seems that they have missed an important piece of evidence. Mr Trump's physician has, apparently, reported that he take an anticholesterol drug called a statin. We don't know what type or dosage. In 2016, the FDA, for the first time, issued a warning, contained in the insert of these drugs, that they are frequently the cause of cognitive impairment, memory loss and confusion. Fact check it, please.
robertgeary9 (Portland OR)
Any thoughtful op-ed on the subject of incompetence resonates with some of us who coped, as insiders, with a government agency (i.e., U.S. Immigration) in the 70s and afterwards.

After making the mistake of dropping out of teaching, I was hired by INS (Today: DHS) in CA.
One example of incompetence follows:

The regional office decided to improve the district's largest records section. So it sent, for one week, an official who did just that. However, he was followed, in turn, by TWO others, although this task had already been done.

After a decade, I transferred to INS/Den, only to cope with more "government waste" on another level: a district director, who did not qualify for a career in the army because he was too short, demanded that we examiners qualify on the firing range. This took an incredible number of hours because we abandoned our desks to continually travel to a firing range.

Next, he encouraged time away from our tasks to workout at a gym; so it was easy to calculate that more than TWO HOURS, on a regular basis, was spent there, instead of doing our usual work at our desks.
Hence, we inspectors were somewhat muscular, and armed, during inspections in the federal section of DIA. However, only a miracle prevented a situation of any hand gun being grabbed...

Unfortunately, my story is based on facts, so hearing about current incompetence comes as no surprise...
Richard Williams MD (Davis, Ca)
And: during the campaign Trump did not know what the nuclear triad was. He also asked why we even have nuclear weapons, if not to use them. He combines profound ignorance with arrogance, disinterest in learning, and contempt for those who actually know something. He has the impulse control of a child.
Every day that he controls the nuclear codes represents a new threat that all Dr. Krugman's other concerns will become suddenly and permanently irrelevant.
bkw (USA)
Donald Trump's obliviousness and ignorance and superficiality and lack of maturation and small mindedness and inability to think coherently, or to artfully express himself following on the heels of President Obama's depth, compassion, intellect, and wisdom makes the present occupant of the Oval Office seem even more of an embarrassment than he might otherwise be, yet that's highly unlikely.

The humongous irony is that this apparently pathological in need of therapeutic help creature was elected because of his dysfunction not despite it. And that it was actually his lack of a filter, his disrespect for others, his do and say anything to win include ongoing character assassinations and his let it all hang out divisive/destructive rhetoric and behavior that won him dedicated support in necessary electoral districts. And that's because his fans grossly misinterpret his bloviating mindlessness to mean that he was powerful and authentic; not that in reality and underneath it all he is actually a weak, fragile, sad, incurious, ill informed incompetent person.
Ted (California)
Republicans (and their wealthy donors) believe that "government is the problem, not the solution." A party ideologically opposed to government will not govern very well when they take control. Especially when they've spent the past eight years doing nothing but attacking, obstructing, and throwing tantrums over an "illegitimate" Democratic president.

The disdain for government also means a Republican president (or his hard-right advisors) will choose cabinet and agency heads who are ignorant of the organizations they will lead, and preferably are ideologically opposed to the mission of their organization. Their mandate will not be to lead, but to preside over the destruction (or revamping) of the organization on behalf of donors who see it as an impediment to greed. Andrew Puzder would surely be eager to revamp the Labor Department into an organization that helps employers reduce the costs of operating their sweatshops and plantations.

Similarly, a party that has created an entire alternative reality (to convince millions of chickens to consistently vote for Colonel Sanders) will ignore or attack any inconvenient truths that are contrary to that alternative reality. Ignorance is key to their success. So of course they're going to be shocked to discover that dismantling Obamacare, which in their alternative reality is nothing but a "socialist takeover of health care" and an unmitigated disaster, would cause millions to lose their health care.
Ellen Cleary (Michigan)
In my innocence, early in my career, I once described myself and my husband as "intellectuals" to my HR rep in a Fortune 100, meaning to convey that we were quiet, bookish people. This guy was the graduate of an Ivy League college, but his reaction? His lip curled and his response was a contemptuous, "I know all about 'intellectuals.'"

On another occasion, a woman in the family I'd married into condensed her two-word assessment and rejection of me as, "She's 'educated.'"

In both cases, I was at a loss to understand where this contempt was coming from. Looking back, I realize I was blessed to be raised by parents who valued education and instilled that appreciation in me. As to the anti-intellectuals, I can only suppose that somewhere along the line, people whose judgments they valued must have instilled this literally stupid attitude in them.
beth (Rochester, NY)
Does anyone think at this point that Trump doesn't have a serious mental disorder? I think the republicans in charge know it ( Ryan, McConnell,etc), but will use him to do their dirty work. When it gets to be " too much", they'll get rid of him and let their other zealot- but sane, Pence, take over.
C.A. (Oregon)
When is 45 going to graduate from picture books to chapter books?
tincanguy (USA)
I'm surprised that Trump didn't call the Japanese Prime Abe (like Lincoln). Nookular ala Dubya can't be far behind.
John Smith (Cherry Hill NJ)
TRUMP'S Incompetence has a neurological component to it. Trump is not medically capable of fulfilling his oath of office, as he exhibits symptoms of frontal lobe dementia. He refused to attend daily security briefings, saying that he did not want to have to hear the same words every day for the next 8 years (perish the thought). What he's telling us about how his brain works is that he cannot understand anything beyond a few buzz words and phrases. Leave alone context, analysis, synthesis, critique and forming a basis for actions to preserve the safety of the US daily The 25th Amendment MUST be invoked. Trump confused 9/11 and 7/11, showing that he is disoriented to time, place and person. He tweeted that Paris is in Germany, a disorientation to place. Trump asked voters to cast their ballots for him on 11/28, a disorientation to time. He said that without them, the movement would be an "asterick" in history, a disorientation to name. His father was grandiose when older and died at 83 of Alzheimers. At 70, Donald is not too young to have symptoms of dementia. He shows typical irritability, irrationality and confabulation. Maybe you've noticed that he says the same thing over many times. Basically, There is something wrong here and I'm the one to fix it. NOT! The 25th Amendment must be invoked! Kieth Olbermann has a detailed explanation of how that would be done on YouTube. Check it out!
Darsan54 (Grand Rapids, MI)
It doesn't surprise me Pres. Trump* got it wrong. He consistently displays a deep contempt for any kind of knowledge or learning. Plus he is a total boor.
oldchemprof (Hendersonville NC)
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”

--Hanlon’s Razor (source unknown)
Karl Haugen (Florida)
Look where all the genius policy makers got us in the prior 8 years. Syria. Iran. N Korea. Libya. A 31.8% unemployment rate for young blacks. A 28% high school graduate rate in New York City (26 in Philly). In 2009 50.9 m on Medicaid, in 2016 70.2 m on Medicaid. And $9 trillion MORE in debt. Great job intellectual policy makers.

Oh, and enough with the Russia paranoia. When Romney tried to tell Obama in a debate that the greatest threat to America was Russia they laughed him off the stage and said he was out of touch.
Nick Adams (Laurel, Ms)
The NYT comments section is a wonderful place to vent against the ignorance, cowardice and hatred of this immoral and illegitimate President. We know we're singing to the choir here.
Be sure you rail against it to your gerrymandered Republican congressman and senator. More importantly tell the Trump voters you know that they've put their own lives and ours in mortal danger. Knocking down a wall of ignorance is hard work. Confront them.
Tom (Chicago, IL)
A fabulous article. Paul K zeros into the very essence of the political and economic issue. Keep writing to us Paul.
Purple patriot (Denver)
Stupid is as stupid does. You can't fix stupid. Three years, eleven months and one week to go. We can make it, I hope.
WREverdell (Brooklyn, NY)
As some Americans used to say, before Hofstadter wrote the history of anti-intellectualism in America, "If you're so smart. why ain't you rich?" We know now that being rich is not only not evidence of intelligence, it may well be evidence of a deliberate and selective ignorance.
raspell (Memphis, TN)
I enjoy reading Krugman and find his arguments well reasoned and documented even if I may not agree with all. But it's important to note that it's IRRELEVANT. the people that voted for Trump do not read this. They truly do believe that the media is biased and therefore, listen only to him and Fox.

While I agree we are in a crazy and dangerous time, reaching the electorate to explain the fallacy of this choice has not only NOT been successful, it infuriates them more. When you are ready to solve how to reach this electorate effectively then we have an article worth reading. Next time start with a candidate that is personally more appealing. Someone like Joe Biden. Someone more difficult to hate. Personally i don't see the correct candidate but i know the correct candidate: Harold Ford Jr. if he would get back in to politics.
bob west (florida)
Trumps cultural ignorance starts at home. His lying, his immoral behavior, his anthem of hate, all disguised by his 'renewed belief in god', buoyed by Fox, Hannity, Falwell, etc. Then over the weekend gloating over the ICE raids. The entire country should be up in arms over this terrible person!
PeterS (Boston, MA)
I wonder if his friend Clint will remind Trump: "A man's got to know his limitations."
BobSmith (FL)
Enough with the George Orwell analogies. This is getting tiresome. We have had worse Presidents and we will get through this. In another four years someone else will be POTUS...someone hopefully more prepared for the job. When Trump was elected Krugman was predicting a world wide recession. Now he tells us to be afraid, to be very afraid. Great advice on how to get through the next four years. In theory you are suppose to be a responsible columnist. We read these columns looking for insight, hope, direction...not unrelenting pessimism and negativity. I say we all need to have courage, we all need to stand together. We will get through this...as we always have...better for the experience and less likely to make the same mistake again.
Emma (IL)
Fascists are stupid as a rule, as are tyrannical dictators. They replace rational thought and wisdom with delusions, ideology and intimidation, which is why what seems (and is in part) their incompetence quickly reveals the malevolent designs underneath -- and those are unstoppable for a long while:
https://medium.com/@Elamika/tyranny-101-shock-and-awe-d51964831482#.9av3...
Sheldon Bunin (Jackson Heights, NY)
Ignorance is strength. Freedom is slavery. Peace is war. It is all very clear for those who now use Newspeak. Alternate facts is newspeak for lies. Making America great again is newspeak for making Trump and his family the richest kleptocrats in the world. Time to re read Orwell's 1984.
Michael Steinberg (Westchester, NY)
Trumponomics: A system where nothing adds up.
ColtSinclair (Montgomery, Al)
At least Trump didn't call him Prime Minister Abe (as in Abe Lincoln).
tired of belligerent Republicans (Ithaca, NY)
Yes, ignorance with confidence!! I've been saying this for a long time...It isn't and won't be pretty, and it will lock in seriously damaging consequences for many, many years going forward. It really IS a fascist takeover.
fpjohn (New Brunswick)
Dear Dr. Krugman:

Trump practices Humpty Dumptypism. It is all about power and who has it. Fact and meaning are secondary. Til the fall.

yours
Frank P. Johnston
paulinaa (albuquerque)
Right on, professor, as usual!
Duane McPherson (Groveland, NY)
A chunk of the voters wanted change, no matter what. Looks like they got it. Hope they're happy.
Enobarbus37 (Tours, France)
Here's the way the Ignorantscenti view it:
“...Trump’s election was a sign of health,” said a White House aide who was not authorized to speak publicly. “It was a revolt against managerialism, a revolt against expert rule, a revolt against the administrative state. It opens the door to possibilities.”

Possibilities... I think Trump should be tasked with explaining to a family of polar bears that they are possibilities.
David (Cambridge)
Compare this to Obama.
Jeanne Lambkin (Massachusetts)
Is America great (again?) now that incompetence is our saving grace?
4AverageJoe (Denver)
"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." George Orwell
Bullies don't care about facts.
Rick Beck (Dekalb IL)
Trump and his band of merry amateurs should all wear hats with the slogan "Don't worry about nothing and nothing will be alright"
SCZ (Indpls)
I don't think Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller - the Steves - see themselves as being part of that intellectual vacuum. They clearly think they're the smartest people in the room, no matter what room they're in. How is it that they think they stand for Christianity and traditionalism when their strategies for over-turning the established order are based on the dissemination of lies, insults, and white-hot hatred? Their brand of Christianity is nothing but THEIR brand; there is no moral compass in it. How does Christianity without the Christianity work, Steves?
Steve S. (Suwanee, Georgia)
Orwell would have loved this "alternative" reality, it's happening in Real Time!
Richard Chapman (Prince Edward Island)
Anti intellectualism is not a new phenomenon in the U.S., read Richard Hofstedter.
MikeInMi (SE Michigan)
There it is; the perfect descriptor for this administration: “malevolence tempered by incompetence." Thank you, Benjamin Wittes and Paul Krugman.
NA (New York)
The Times just posted a headline with this headline:

"Trump Friend Suggests Reince Priebus Is in Over His Head"

They could just as easily have written:

"Trump Friend Sees Priebus as a Perfect Fit with the Trump Administration"
Susan Anderson (Boston)
John Oliver is back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xecEV4dSAXE

"What does he mean when he says words?"

Who needs facts and truth when they have one-liners.
Susan Anderson (Boston)
Second requirement:

A gullible audience - Newspeak - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak

"Newspeak is a controlled language, of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, a linguistic design meant to limit the freedom of thought—personal identity, self-expression, free will—that ideologically threatens the régime of Big Brother and the Party, who thus criminalized such concepts as thoughtcrime"
Debbie R. (Brookline, MA)
Trump's immigration ban is his demonstration of rejecting anything that the prior administration has done. We have seen this before. One of the first things W. did upon taking office was to demote Clinton's chief counter-terrorist security adviser, Richard Clarke, thus shifting the focus of the administration off of people like Osama Bin Laden. We can't know if that would have made a difference in preventing 9/11, but we do know that tracking Bin Laden was not a Bush priority.
The cruelty of Trump's invalidating visas that had been approved during the prior administration is pure theatrics designed to suggest that the past 8 years of no major terrorist attack on American soil was simply a fluke, and not due to anything President Obama did.
Todge (seattle)
What Trump and his cronies like Miller didn't explain was that the wall they were building was the Wall of Ignorance, the Wall of Arrogance and a Wall to keep Reality out.

Now it's clear why Obama didn't seem fussed when he quietly affirmed a few times in his waning weeks - "reality has a way of catching up with you" Or why, in the same measured tones that always infuriated our new Petulant , he would be the first to endorse a healthcare plan better than his namesake Obamacare. Why? he's just surfin' and swimmin' and smilin'.
Maybe it's kind of amusing seeing that ole reality just catchin' up, like he said it would. No drama for Mr Obama - as always.
Kelly (New Jersey)
Anybody remember "blind, therefore insane" the flubbed interpretation from English to Polish during a speech by President Carter on a state visit to Poland? It was widely reported, and used as a cudgel in the relentless battering by everyone of the Carter Administration. President Carter was a nuclear engineer, a former governor and a transparently successful business man, who owned up to his administration's failures to the point where he was somehow responsible for an incompetent translator or maybe more accurately a poor translation. Contrast that to what appears to be a battalion of so called advisers to this so called President who simply talk past questioners on their way to violating ethics laws. Kudos to the Times and Professor Krugman for calling out a laundry list of error and ineptitude that put this President and our country on track to becoming a world class laughing stock. The question is who will investigate them, who will prosecute them and how do we get rid of them before the damage is too great or too terrible? 'Make America Great Again' indeed.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
I think Jimmy Carter was the most decent president of the post WW II period. Nobody was really grown-up about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the time, so I don't fault him for misplaying it. The games Republicans played with Iran to elect Reagan were outright treason. "Born again" though he may be, he never moved to breach separation of church and state.
John Brews (Reno, NV)
Who indeed. It is Congress's job, but Congress has no intention.
PAULIEV (OTTAWA)
The Ascent of the Dummies, begun by St. Ronnie and furthered by W, continues. We, in Canada, are wondering if the rumour of Ms. Palin being appointed Ambassador to Canada by the Oaf of Office are true. She already has a connection to us Canucks, as she has admitted that her family used to come over the border to defraud us of "free" health care. The care that we pay for with our, admittedly, steep taxes. So, given her loose standards of honesty, and her displayed lack of expertise in much of anything, she would be an ideal Drumpf pick for this office, in keeping with his other appointments.
S Steinberg (Seattle)
Oy, Canada!
M Peirce (Boulder, CO)
Krugman is right on, except for one crucial aspect: that distrust of intellectuals did not happen without cause. When mainstream elites with Ph.D.'s consistently overlook measures that are meaningful to the common person, telling the common person that the economy is running well, while citing statistics that make stock investors happy, but do not reflect the lived experience of the ordinary person, then ordinary people start to distrust intellectuals en masse.
Citing "facts" such as a variety of helpful but quite partial statistics (ex: the official unemployment rate, number of jobs added this month/quarter/year) comes across more and more as sleight of hand, rather than rigor (because they ignore the quality of those jobs, whether they are part time, etc.). Lacking the analytic tools to challenge intellectuals in elite positions, common people know they are being mislead, but not how. ("Half truths" begins to describe what they are fed.)
When intellectual elites claim that "nothing can be done about X" in ways that signal their own and their class's unwillingness to act, rather than any real difficulty, common people are increasingly justified in treating "facts" as a term that elites use to bully them, rather than the basis of honest and sound argument.
When intellectuals in positions of power insist on being trusted, after years and years of misuse of their skills, that creates the very situations in which demagogues thrive, and "intellectual" becomes a term of insult.
John Brews (Reno, NV)
M Pierce: Good points. There is some blindness at work. Besides the excellent list you provide is the inability to look ahead when things are changing.

I've got in mind the stunning effects of automation and artificial intelligence that eliminate huge numbers of jobs that will never return. Private sector employment as we know it is over, and there are simply never going to be enough jobs to employ everyone even if we all are super educated and super talented.

There are many many jobs that need to be done, though they are not private sector jobs and are seen by the private sector as nuisance overhead that doesn't add to the bottom line. Thinks like environmental protection, education, making transportation systems that work, helping the homeless, child care, and on and on. Basically the jobs that make life better but don't fit a profit driven business model, at least as that exists today.
Sherry Jones (Arizona)
This is the best comment I've read describing why the working class is disillusioned with intellectuals in general. I just hope people begin to realize that the only ones who care, and who will come up with good solutions that benefit the working class, are on the left.
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
You said it, "Mr. Paul" - that we are seeing raw ignorance on every front in this 45th Presidency - as if ignorance is strength. Competency in every branch of the new Trump administration doesn't exist. The "trillion dollar Infrastructure plan"?, affordable health care? the fact that climate change is real? Bigotry and anti-intellectualism won this election. And who's in charge? An alt-right fear-monger, bigot, and monstrous former Goldman Sachs and Breitbart man, Steve Bannon, who ran Trump's winning campaign of lies and promises, and a cute but nuts woman who doesn't know that there wasn't a massacre at Bowling Greene - Kellyanne Conway. She's the one who told us to rush out and buy Ivanka Trump's clothes and accessories from Nordstrom's, after the President punished the department store in one of his demented Tweets as being "so unfair to his daughter!". These are President Trump's closest strategic advisers. No one's in charge, the lunatics are running the asylum. Washington, D.C, is cloudcuckooland. "Mr. Paul", you don't have to warn us to be very afraid - we are, we are.
JABarry (Maryland)
The White House sump Trump Administration is pumping out Donald's dump after Donald's dump. It flows like tweets over Niagara Falls. It is tarnishing America with ignorance. Is this what Trump meant when he said he would make America great again? That is what he is delivering.
Patrick (Long Island N.Y.)
Please continue to shine the light of day on those of darkness.
Esteban (Philadelphia)
Malevolence tempered by incompetence is a forecast for disaster. And ,to think, we are only 3 weeks into the Trump presidency.
Bruce (Spokane WA)
This brings to mind the Dunning-Kruger Effect: in which a person not only thinks he's better at something than he is, but doesn't actually know enough about the task at hand to understand how poorly he's doing.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect
Dwight (St. Louis MO)
As damaging as ignorance is in Washington, it's a disaster in red states where one party rule has taken over. In Missouri, for example, the GOP juggernaut has passed so called Right to Work; the problem of course is that prevailing wages are the true rule of thumb in contract negotiations for highways and other infrastructure projects, and the rules governing the prevailing wage benchmark has been jettisoned by the Legislature. Now we'll see how long it takes for State contractors to go broke because they can't earn enough to be profitable. Meanwhile the impact on the standard of living broadly defined in our state will begin to slip. Schools in some places are already hurting for operating budgets. What's been wrong with Kansas is about to be that way here in Missouri as well. Ideology, ideology, ideology; never lets facts distort opinions here in the hinterland. Now more "hinter" than ever.
Dan (Washington, DC)
Mr. Krugman, I think you've missing the point. The felt reality of tens of millions of working Americans is that the Obama economy had left them behind. The numbers back that up, including average household incomes that fell steadily through Obama's term in office. The economic strain is and remains real and ubiquitous. Yet the President and his hand-picked successor never spoke directly and candidly about this reality and the real anxiety and despair it engendered. Ironically, Donald Trump did. He spoke a big truth that working people might understandably hear as bigger than his many lies, that Washington had abandoned middle America and that it was time to Make America Great Again. So, let's have less head shaking please about the Know-Nothings who put Trump in office. Democrats need to figure out again whose side they're on and show they're ready to fight.
Sarah (New York, NY)
Once again, Dan, Hillary Clinton won ALL income demographics below $50K (which is nearly the median US income). It wasn't "working Americans" who supported Trump. It was WHITE working Americans. Hmmm....it's almost as if economic anxiety wasn't actually what was driving them.

Also, not sure why you think Trump has ever spoken a truth in his life. Trump is a wealthy New York real estate develop and brand shill. The net worth of his cabinet clocks in about $13 billion. You think those people have middle America's interests at heart? I have a great bridge investment opportunity to offer you--almost as good as Trump University!
Boris Vetrov (Seattle)
I wonder why Mr. Krugman hates the president Trump so much? What drives his vehement opinions?
Is it fear that this "ignorant per venue" might, God forbid, succeed.

It's unfortunate that accomplished scientist can't stay cool and give Mr Trump a chance.
Chris (Cave Junction)
A nasty mix of negligence and incompetence. The former implies Trump knows he's doing wrong, the latter implies he doesn't know what's right and blazes forward anyways. Together, this is the gestalt for which the masses voted: blow up the government, drain the swamp.

The dumbing down of America by failed education policies that looked like they were incompetent choices but were more likely due to strategic negligence has created an electorate who acts like mean kids on the school playground: they hate the smart kids and deride them as nerds, geeks and losers, when in fact the smart ones grow up to be their bosses and politicians.

Trump has played into this anti-intellectualism probably out of dumb luck since he's an anti-intellectual, and that's pretty much all he's got as the ruler of the free world. So he's going to act like the school bully and lead the charge against the thoughtful and considerate elite who spent time studying and working hard while the surplus population sat around lost in their forest of incompetence and negligence.
Heysus (Mount Vernon, WA)
Believe me, I am very afraid. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and all of the other dignitaries who have come to "bow down" to t-rump will actually have the last laugh. They can spot a fool when they see one. Some of us can also. Now, how to get rid of him before he and his ilk drive us over the proverbial cliff.
MattM (Marietta,GA)
Competence in this case is much further up maslow's hierarchy when it comes to GOP-Trumpstyle. We're in very deep (insert favorite word for feces here). We need to be able to establish some agreed upon modicum of what reality is before we can even get to a place where we can expect gov't officials to act competently. We have to agree that 2+2=4. Even if someone on Fox says "Well some people say that 2+2=5".

After posting the following on FB,

"...It's outside the norm, of not just the president, but of human beings." Sen. Al Franken talking to Bill Maher about Trump saying things that aren't true time and again.

An old acquaintance replied:
"I thought the same way for the previous 8 years. "

Wow. The false equivalence that true believers counter with is baffling. Their entire political philosophy can be summed up in four words. Republicans good, Democrats bad. To coin a phrase, 'Sad'.

I love the smell of pure partisanship in the morning...it smells like someone who's consumed the Kool Aid.
One day this impending war is gonna end.
Bob W (New Milford CT)
Why do liberals keep insisting the the Constitution requires allowing everyone into the country?
Gwendolyn Taylor (Boston)
They don't--at least, most of them don't. The issue is excluding people based solely on their religion. But believe me, most people who wanted to get into the country under Obama couldn't. The vetting process is not only insanely long, but one hint of an issue and you were out. I worked for years in Liberia, and getting a visa to come here was almost impossible. I only saw a handful of folks that wanted a visa actually get one.

I, personally, would never argue that everyone that wants to come in should be allowed--that would be chaos. However, a really rigorous vetting process, combined with sensible analysis of what can be accommodated, should allow us to welcome refugees and immigrants that need protection, deserve opportunity, and want to contribute.
jewel (Pennsylvania)
They don't. they simply support a vetting process (that already exists ) that does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Many liberals supported thoughtful, reasoned, comprehensive immigration reform. It was Republicans that obstructed that effort.
sdw (Cleveland)
In the 1950s and 1960s, when you wanted to describe the incompetence of a company, an organization, a sports team or a prominent person, you called it “Amateur Hour.” It was a reference to an old radio and later television show hosted by Ted Mack, who had inherited the show from a guy who called himself Major Bowes.

The show was a competition among performers, much like this century’s “American Idol” or “The Voice.” Except that many of the performers were really terrible.

The administration of President Donald Trump, though it is less than a month old, has demonstrated that is the Amateur Hour of today. Except that the host, Mr. Trump, also performs and probably is the worst of the on-camera stars.

The big difference between Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour and Donald Trump’s is that Mack celebrated the truly talented performer among a mediocre group, but Trump celebrates the worst.

You don’t like Betsy DeVos? No problem – here comes Scott Pruitt. Have difficulty accepting the loyalty of Rex Tillerson? Relax – here’s someone as crazy as he is disloyal: Mike Flynn. Think Mike Pence may be too tough on minorities? Well, take a look at Jeff Sessions.

Amateur Hour with a twist. The audience may be in mortal danger.
Tony (Santa Monica)
Sadly, this man still has strong backing from police and military and those who enjoy authoritarianism when it benefits them. Until his voters can adopt a conscious, the bafoon grifter will continue to thrive
Mark Stave (Baltimore)
Since reality has a (well known) liberal bias, expertise is, of course, not needed.
Mitzi Flyte (Oley, PA)
Somehow this administration reminds me of an old movie, "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."
That would be funny if it wasn't so damn scary.

In other words: We have plumbers doing neurosurgery and a neurosurgeon managing housing.
Peter Broeksmit (Dwight IL)
Now that information is not power, what exactly is it?
J (CT)
A distraction.
L'homme (Washington DC)
Mr. Krugman is growing 50 shade darker with every post.
John Bergstrom (Boston, MA)
I have to mention, now that we have a few years to kick some ideas around - there's a funny phenomenon where you can be very sensitive to the ignorance and irrationality of your opponents (in this case, Trump and his supporters and enablers) - but then sometimes you have the experience of hearing somebody beside you at a rally start to explain their thinking - and you think, well, ummm, this person has gotten way off the track - but, as long as they're at the right rally, and voting right and so on, it's all good. I suppose the responsible thing to do - the liberal thing - would be to spend as much time arguing with our allies, as with our opponents - to make sure we are on the right side for the right reasons... but in this case, first let's aim for some victories in 2018.
George Deitz (California)
Who'd have thought anybody or anything was worse than W and his ignorant folly? But even W had the benefit of a kind of guidance, a "Presidency for Dummies" if you will, thanks to dad, who learned a little presidency from the Saint.

Poor old Trump, though, isn't interested in anything but himself. Part of the shame is that he managed to appeal to so many benighted voters. The other shameful part is that so many motley right-wingers are so completely without intellectual integrity, morality, or fairness. They would rather have a dangerous, evil dodo in the White House, they think they can manipulate, than a thinking being who might actually serve the people.

Anyone with a sliver of sense knew, watching the dodo campaigning, that his promises were empty; impossible, didn't make sense, didn't/couldn't add up, or were just pap in the sky. But the Trumpite mesmerized mob really would give their god a pass even if he shot somebody on Fifth Avenue. He said so, so it's true. That's pretty dumb and very evil.

Yes, we should be afraid. We live among awful, gun toting zealots, with multi-faceted rage and bricks for brains who gave us this thing infecting our culture and our discourse, our very waking awareness. Now he's set on ruining our country.

We see that if you work hard, play by the rules, go to school, get experience, pay your bills and honor agreements, you're a sap. You don't need to know anything to get ahead, and you don't need no stinking elites to tell you that.
FrankWillsGhost (Port Washington)
Mr. Trump doesn't know which is better: a strong dollar or a weak dollar. What's worse, he doesn't know who to ask for the answer. He calls General Mattis, Defense Secretary (the only one in the cabinet with any competence as far as I can tell) who appropriately told Mr. Drumpf, "Don't ask me. Ask an economist." Oops, that would imply a level of expertise, advice from an "elite." So Donald probably called Sean Hannity for the answer.

We're doomed.
Dennis D. (New York City)
The strength of of Trump Von Clownstick lies in his lies and the support of those lies by his zealous disciples. Like the right-handed outstretched hand salute their Fuhrer, Trumpets have a blind allegiance to TVC. For them he can do no wrong. They will back their Fuhrer until TVC's last gasps at power come to pass, and this doofus is carted out of the Oval Office in a straight jacket, babbling incoherent slogans while drooling into his bib. A more pathetic figure one will not see.

DD
Manhattan
ASHRAF CHOWDHURY (NEW YORK)
Ignorance is blessing for Trump. Because the media, pundits and also people are making excuse for him and tolerate his madness. But we ,the ordinary people are suffering. We look stupid in the world. We have become a laughing stock in the world. He is unfit for the position.
Scatman (Pompano Beach)
You are correct to point our that the so called president is in way over his head. He has staffed his administration with crackpots and fascists. Big trouble is around the corner. Every thinking person is afraid for our future.
Patrick (Long Island N.Y.)
Fake people with fake personalities that ran a fake campaign that gave us fake news to get real power. They are not ignorant. They are devilishly smart and know how ignorant voters are.
Glen (Texas)
I am very afraid, Krugman...Paul...Doctor...whichever. Very, very afraid, in fact.

I have tried to be a good citizen. Never been arrested. Enlisted in the Army and got a free year-long tropical holiday for signing up for 3 years. Got an education...several, really: Welding Technology, Registered Nurse, Computer Science. Raised a couple of kids. Paid my taxes; probably overpaid, in the view of some. In the words of Freddy Mercury, "I've done my sentence, but committed no crime."

So why, now, am I being punished, very possibly up to the point of my final exhalation? Back to Mr. Mercury: "And bad mistakes, I've made a few." But voting for the joker now sitting in the White House was not one of them. I can only conclude the law of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" is unrepealable.
Vesuviano (Los Angeles, CA)
Reading this column makes me dread the moment of the next Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy, or the next swath of tornadoes across some red state in the Midwest.

In this very publication I have read that Clueless Leader's National Security Council would not even know how to dial up the National Guard in the event of a natural disaster.

Does anyone know who Trump's head of FEMA is? Does anyone in the Trump administration (And I use the term loosely.) know what FEMA is?

In electing Clueless Leader, we have turned the keys to the car over to a drunken adolescent who, by his own admission, can't keep his hands off the girls.

No wonder Russia was delighted.
mary (los banos ca)
So basically you're saying that 40% of Americans are dumb as a box of rocks, and proud of it. I worry more about the McConnell/Ryan types who are smart enough but are guided by heartless avarice. They scare me more.
Richard Green (San Francisco)
This used to be a country where the cream rose to the top. The entire world now knows what floats to the top in a newly refilled swamp.
Gabriel (PR)
Ignorance is like a catalyst. It fuels bigotry and it promotes self-mediocracy. This results in the disbelieve and eventual rejection of anything coming from “the intellectuals”
You see, you don’t speak their language, Dr. Krugman. Neither did Mr. Obama (and the color of his skin did not help).
Michael Kubara (Cochrane Alberta)
"Populism" is not government FOR the common people--those without great inherited unearned wealth, primarily due to property, tax and labor law ripoffs of commoners.

Populism--as the original Populist Party Platform revealed--is government according to prejudices, phobias, misconceptions, misinformation and general lack of critical thought, skills and attention to detail.

Free [from law and logic] marketing in political campaigning appealed to Populists and got Trump elected.

Now he is using the office to free market his brand--that's #1 on his agenda.
Everything else a nuisance-- as well as beyond him.
Ross W. Johnson (Anaheim)
But smart and savvy interests are pulling the strings to their advantage. Seek the dirty hands pulling the strings and you'll discover where the true power resides. There's method in this madness!
JayK (CT)
Welcome to the first fake presidency.

As much as I held GWB and his entire administration in absolute contempt, they at least had a plausible, if extremely low, level of competence and relative integrity to their ideals.

I didn't doubt that they did things, especially in matters of national security, that they felt were in the best interests of this country.

This administration only does things that are in their best interests.

Any benefit that will accrue to the American people will occur entirely by accident.

We are watching a high speed train wreck play out in real time.
SC (Oak View, CA)
Anti-intellectualism starts young. Kids who struggle in school often have attitudes of disdain towards those who perform more competently. This is one thing to consider when we devise testing structures that label students "not proficient" and subsequently cause these divides and attitudes to intensify.
Richard F. Kessler (Sarasota FL)
Stop it. You revel in the ignorance of Trump and his supporters. You, like they, forget they are our fellow Americans. It is inconceivable that the elite who opposed Trump bear no responsibility for the sorry intellectual and educational levels of half of America. The problem now faced by the other half is how to get the country back. Neither derision nor lamentation is going to accomplish that.
Robert (Out West)
Speaking of educational levels, could you explain how you figure that words and phrases such as "malevolence," and "very afraid," should be taken as signs of revelling?
Jessica Lipnack (Vermont)
In addition to a proofreader, they need a truth reader.
RoseMarieDC (Washington DC)
I am not sure ignorance is ever a good thing. Rremember the saying: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. This is going to cost the US a whole lot, and not only in terms of money.
Chaang (Boston)
At some point large numbers of people are going to die as a result of this ignorance. That, I'm afraid, is all that can change the tenor of this chit chat about Trump. Present company included.
M.R. (nyc)
Paul Krugman correctly observes that:
"... disdain for experts..[hostility toward “elites” who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought]...resonates with an important part of the electorate...".
It is ironic, however, that his analysis ends there, and fails to bring his own alleged value of 'careful study and thought' to bear on the issue he raises.
Although Krugman cites experts to prove Trump's incompetence in every other field, here he relies on his own inexpert opinion. Which is a pity, because there is a pedagogy on the antagonism between workers and experts. 'New Class' theorists such Piven and Cloward (The New Class War) and Barbara Ehrenreich posit a "Professional Managerial Class" [PMC], with an identity and interests distinct from both workers and capital. (and yes, Ehrenreich's "Witches Midwives and Healers"/ Foucault's "Discipline and Punishment" -- "professionals" as a class HAVE functioned as a self interested "elite").

Although Trump/Bannon are indeed ignorant in all the ways Krugman describes, Republicans since Reagan are deeply informed by such social theory -- and now exercise almost unchallenged political power as a result.

PMC democrats: We're not the world, we're not the children. And until we wake up to that fact and create a working class coalition strategy, we will be ruled by our enemies.
reader (Maryland)
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his livelihood depends upon his not understanding it"
Upton Sinclair
Carol (Midwest)
We are very, very afraid. My question is, who is going to do something to stop them?
sundog (washington dc)
This Administration's ignorance is only exceeded by its arrogance.
bse (vermont)
Intellectual vacuum doesn't cover it all. Not knowing how the government works, the three branches, etc. and clumsy administration due to that, and the fact that plenty of educated people can act incompetently is only part of the problem. In this case, some of the insiders have another agenda, self declared.

More attention needs to be paid to the Bannon crowd and their ideology. Under the smokescreen of messy administration and kellyanne lies and obfuscations, the really scary work goes on. Bannon is self-described as a dark"satanic" force and is using his education and brains to corrupt and destroy our system. He operates now from an increasingly prominent position of power.

We need to pay attention. We missed the cabal of the W years that sidestepped the regular government departments and advisory systems to simply take over the ear of the president and control the information he received and lead us into war.

The Bannon crowd and the rest of the executive branch right-wing crazies, including the new Cabinet, are dismantling our government, aided and abetted by the Congress which is patiently waiting to fully execute its right-wing agenda. Which force will win? Are their goals the same/compatible? Will they succeed?

In either case, the people lose, no matter who you voted for. We need to wake up and stay awake and active if we care about the nation. These are dangerous times. Think mentally unstable people with acesss to the enuclear codes.
PaulB (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Amazing, to me at least, that PK didn't manage even a passing reference to Paul Ryan. If you want to talk about someone whose incompetence in economic matters is unsurpassed (as PK often points out) Ryan is your man.

Paring Ryan and Trump and Bannon, with a boost from that paragon of moral opaqueness, Mitch McConnell, gives the U.S. a leadership team on par with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
AE (France)
Those horrible people will ensure that the GOP acquires the notoriety of the Nazi Party when Trump's term is up. The Republicans are finished in the current configuration.
Sinbad (NYC)
Sounds like the GWB administration all over again -- only ten times worse.
Tolaf T (Wilm DE)
Be concerned? Yes, deeply. But be afraid? No.
I will fear no evil.
AE (France)
What will you do when another target group after the Muslims is chosen? This is the next inevitable step on the road to programmed national chaos.
Charles. Michener (Cleveland,OH)
Krugman has used that closing line - "Be afraid, be very afraid" - before. These days, it unfortunately sounds like a stock Trumpism. What he should have closed with it, "Be vigilant, be very vigilant."
patsyann0 (cookeville, TN)
Too bad that Bannon's native religion (no money for abortions for poor folks around the world) and denial of climate change, causing people in dried up farmland areas to have more kids than the land
can support and forcing those folks to head north where they are not
welcomed (for the most part). Mali, Senegal ,Niger for example.
Is this called draining the swamp.? Sounds just plain meanness or cruelty to me. These are other things to be afraid of.
AE (France)
Why are you mocking Bannon's Catholic faith? He would be deeply offended at the idea that he doesn't have a heart.
freyda (ny)
Is there a way to understand who is pushing the stock market up and why? It goes up day and night, that is, no matter where in the world it is trading, and seems to be affirming that this administration is good for business worldwide although one wouldn't think ignorance and chaos would be good for business anywhere. Is much of the world happy to share in the ignorance/lies despite the truth?
Sherry Jones (Arizona)
"Irrational exuberance" is how Alan Greenspan described the housing market before the crash.
robert grant (chapel hill)
I think most of the rise is simply the conclusion that Republicans will gut as many regulations as possible (whether they are good, bad, or indifferent) and that will result in the short term over the next several years of increased cash flow for those industries being de-regulated. Of course, sooner or later someone will have to pay to clean up the mess that will be made long term, but that is a separate story.
dre (NYC)
Krugman summed it up: for repubs ignorance is strength. Nothing is true or reflects actual knowledge anymore; what is "true" is what we want to believe, no evidence or facts needed.

Such stupidity keeps getting them elected.

If there are any actual leaders in Congress they had better do something to get rid of this incompetent. We are already afraid, and someone with some intelligence and integrity and wisdom needs to step in and remove this fool.
Yeah (IL)
A quibble: the immigration ban, or rather an immigration ban, could have put together in a way to pass legal muster. Probably the first step would have been to bring knowledgeable people into the process, then make some findings of fact relevant to legitimate goals of national security, tailor the EO to meet those goals, and then have a number of WH and admin people who do not have well published animus against Muslims and Islam sign off.

I just put more time and thought into it than the administration.
mjbarr (Murfreesboro,Tennessee)
We are afraid, very afraid.

If ignorance is bliss, then our administration is very blissful.

Unfortunately, ignorance is not really bliss, it is just plain stupid.
tdb (Berkeley, CA)
Good column on the blind leading the blind. The press needs to keep visible the mess they make, although I a not sure that will make a difference at this point. This is not about rational analysis. Conservatives are falling in line, even "serious" conservatives do not speak out and we saw what happened last week at the Wall St. Journal. In any case, to the the scariest thing of all is what you pointed out in your last op piece--what happens when the fire comes? It will not be a big fire, another 9/11. It just need be a homegrown attack like the Boston marathon (by two radicalized and misguided high school kids). Or the one by the couple in California. One "minor" event and "Rome will burn."
Dean H Hewitt (Tampa, FL)
It is really scary. Which country do we get into a shooting war with, North Korea, Iran, both.... Then there the economy which may be in trouble just because of the talk coming from the White House and Congress. The only thing for sure is they are going to give the rich more money and the middle and poor classes will pay for it with increase taxes and reduced benefits. The only thing I would like to see is the wall built so they can stop blaming the Dems for all the ills of the world. We all know it isn't going to work...
Rene (San Francisco)
Trump know how to do two things- enriching himself and how to "win" using any tactics possible. Everything else? Unimportant in his value system which was instilled in him by his crooked father from birth! We should not expect anything more from this sad and scary excuse for a human being.
Umur (Istanbul)
It would be somewhat of a rarity for a non-American to comment on Mr Krugman's not-so-brief analysis, but here you go. I think there's far more he said one feels, when you develop the big picture. Yes, I too am afraid simply because the content, scope and the quality of America's conduct in our region here in the good old Biblical Lands is vitally important, has always been, and probably will be for the unforeseeable future. Thank you Mr Paul, for scaring the hell out of me
William Mason (Fairfield, CT)
Yes we did it.
The happily ignorant and uniformed got their guy---also happily ignorant and uniformed into the White House.
We don't need any facts or analysis---bluster, insults and alternative facts will do just fine!
No thinking at all is best!
Brunella (Brooklyn)
"Raw ignorance," yes, but President Donald also feels he's superior to all and is 'above' recognizing any protocol or decorum. His slimy alpha-male handshakes towards dignitaries really drive the point home.
An autocratic, malignant narcissist buffoon.
Howard Tanenbaum,MD (Albany NY)
Ok.We who fancy ourselves less ignorant,get it. We have a government that is working in the fifth dimension and/ or an alternative universe. That being so,what's a body to do.
Protest by media or on the street? Join local political groups? In the meantime the risks of the zoo being run by the animals persists. The ultimate button resides in fantasy land,but still carries the potential for the destruction of the real world.
How prescient was "Alice in Wonderland" . But she woke up. One has to hope that each day we are still here to wake up until the 4 year term is up or America comes to its senses. Fat chance!
bongo (east coast)
The author never gets tired of fear mongering and stating falsehoods. I believe the Republicans will repeal and replace on the same day with a 2 year transition period, to prevent anyone currently on Obamacare from not having any coverage. Also, there will be a 2 year grace period for anyone with pre-existing conditions during which time they must buy health care coverage. I have not yet seen how those who cannot afford health insurance and do not qualify for medicaid will be addressed. Also, early medicare for those over 55? There are still issues but I believe the House is preparing a comprehensive program. If professor Paul is afraid, very afraid perhaps he needs another "head vacation".
MaxM46 (Philadelphia)
I’m seeing something in Dr. Krugman's columns that bothers me: the journalistic equivalent of "shooting fish in a barrel." Or perhaps "taking candy from a baby," if you’re concerned about harming the fish.
Trump's latest gonzo statement/action is seductively easy to focus on. But who gets all the press from that? If you're a Trumpist, it's a matter of glee, but if you're an opponent, it only gives you reason #267 for your opposition—and little else.
As others have pointed out, progressives/Democrats need quick, meaningful, accurate, impactful and positive messages about what we believe IN, repeated often, not just the latest scream of outrage. Some meaningful slogans with high emotional content that don't take three single-spaced pages to explain, like: "Medicare For All-Everyone In, Nobody Out. We then need additional *brief* explanations in columns, ads, and talk-shows. Most of us don't remember much more than the 3 or 4 sentence basics about a subject, and liberals huffing and puffing about ignoramuses (which is ad hominem in any case) won't change that.
There are many people who are already protesting, and their numbers will only grow as things get worse. But in 2020 we had better have been laying out a positive agenda repeatedly in digestible amounts, or there will be 4 more years of living in the Twilight Zone.
berale8 (Bethesda)
Yes, ignorance is strength. Another way of looking at it is that American voters get what hey ask for. With or without the national majority. Costs from the Nixon, Reagan and G.W. Bush administrations for the American people have been enormous, increasingly higher, and the only conceptual economic element for doing, it has been the (in)famous Laffer curve. While we should not expect that this time the costs will recede, let us maintain optimistic, relying on the strenght of American institutions and hoping that the duration of the decay process willl be shorter than expected.
Bill Wetering (Mn)
Other than the irony of the wealthy now having taken control, this take over is comparable to the cultural revolution in China or Russian revolution in some respects because the masses discounted the intellectuals and grouped them with the ruling class. In those times the dangers of climate change were not an issue needing attention and the geopolitical climate was not so integrated and international trade issues were nothing like today. The knowledge based leadership of the USA has never been more necessary. This is a very serious threat to the sustainability of Democracy and I do not think enough people contemplate it in such terms.
Tony (<br/>)
Finally, finally, finally - someone had the courage to say this. Anti-intellectualism was something that reared its ugly head in the Bush administration (and before, if we are talking frankly) - but there were always smart - even if they were devious, cunning and dishonest - people behind the scenes. Now those smart folks have been replaced by people who make no pretense at being informed. Led by the "I know everything" in chief, philosophy, science, and knowledge have become obscenities. People give the boss too much credit for being intelligent - a truly intelligent person NEVER tells you he is intelligent; a truly intelligent person always tells you how much they DON'T know, not how much they do; a truly intelligent person spends every moment trying to learn as much new information as they can, not sending tweets; and a truly intelligent person knows who around him really knows the subject. We're in a bad place when ideology totally trumps truth and intelligence. Bad. Really bad.
kathleen cairns (san luis obispo)
Anti-intellectualism isn't new in American politics. It goes all the way back to Andrew Jackson and his war on the "elite" banks. It is rooted in the "common man" theme that used the log cabin as a campaign tool. Historians such as Richard Hofstadter wrote of it long ago. The difference today: Andrew Jackson did a great deal of damage in the 1830s, but the stakes were much, much, much lower. We've never elected a president so coarse, ignorant and reckless, who has his hands on nuclear weapons.
Mountain Dragonfly (Candler NC)
Hate to say it, but our national level of ignorance is what got Trump elected, and his dearth of knowledge might be excused from having lived in a bubble from birth. Poverty precludes the luxury proper parenting (buy a newspaper when you only had a sandwich on white bread today?), and don't look to see our educational values increase any time soon when the Secretary of Education is promoting Christian bubbles and using funding that is diverted from public schools to do so. I did hear something about she thinks it should be left up to the states? So, we should have some states that have good schools, and some states that don't? Gee I wonder which ones they are. I was lucky. My Dad was in the Army, and we had the privilege of living and traveling in other countries. And I read, read, read. Our country now is going to be led by an administration that has their head in their...um...pocketbooks rather than in building a great nation for all.
N. Smith (New York City)
There is no way to dispute Mr. Krugman's contention that we have an intellectual vacuum at the top.
It's not hard to miss.
Not only because Donald Trump is coming into office after a highly intelligent and educated predecessor, but because his decisions and choices are so limited, as not to reflect a world that is so much bigger than himself.
Worst of all, Trump has also made it a crime to be smart, and makes a sport of deriding those with a higher education as though thy were the 'enemy'.
During the course of Trump's campaign he often repeated:"I love the poorly educated" -- and after all we have seen and heard from him for the past three weeks he's been in office, there's no reason to wonder why.
So far, his policies and Executive Orders have done little to advance the wealth and well-being of those outside of his sainted circles, and there's no sign of any immediate change.
It will only be a matter of time before the villagers with their pitchforks arrive.
Elizabeth (Roslyn, New York)
The only ignorant person in the Oval Office is Trump. He is stubborn in his refusal to inquire or learn. That is what his staff is there for and they are not ignorant by a long shot. Make no mistake, Bannon, Miller, Sessions, Priebus and Conway have the intellect to push their various policies upon Trump. It looks like Bannon and Miller are the ones succeeding at present with their Alt-Right/Christain agenda. Priebus and Conway and Sessions represent the GOP in all its glory and get a word in sometimes. They all know who they are dealing with and continue to refine their propaganda machine. Trump says and signs what they tell him to as long as he gets to tweet. And they willingly lie for the tweet.
What this group are having problems with is implementation. Once they get that sorted watch out! Bannon and Miller in particular are smart, shrewd, mean and calculating. Trump's and the public's ignorance is their strength. They know it and are using it towards their goals.
Len (Pennsylvania)
Agreed. I am tired of reading about the 40% of the mostly uninformed and generally uneducated people who voted this man into office.

I am proud of the work it took to get a master's degree while working full time and supporting a family, of subscribing to many news outlets among them this newspaper. I have been reading the NY Times for over 45 years and will continue to do so and not be ashamed of it!

And while the country is built on inclusion of all types, all ideas, all viewpoints, let's stop giving such great weight to ignorance, laziness and stupidity.
Aaron (Seattle)
It's difficult, if not impossible, to discern willful ignorance from incompetence. But both are as equally damaging when it comes to handling serious matters of State.
Leslie Williams (Burlington, VT)
Dear Mr. Krugman,
You've articulately captured my numerous thoughts and fears of the past month. While the Trump Administration's incompetence is galvanizing impressive resistance, we have no functioning executive branch of government. I am afraid.
David Parsons (San Francisco CA)
Ignorance is strength when you gain office through fake news, disinformation and orchestrated Kremlin help.

The single most important objective of the American people who care about democracy and freedom is to protect voting rights and access.

The GOP has been peeling back voting rights for decades, using Voter ID laws and restricting early voting in cities to create massive lines that deter and prevent turnout.

Before Roberts was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he privately represented W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount.

He was nominated to the Court after W's 537 vote margin of victory out of 6 million votes cast prevailed without a recount.

The President's brother Jeb purged voter rolls by 58,000 disproportionately African-American voters.

Roberts went on to gut the Voting Rights Act that was passed overwhelmingly by Congress. The states affected immediately passed laws restricting voter rights that targeted minorities and the poor.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina's Voter ID requirements saying its provisions “targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

There is a reason the last two Republican President's took office while losing the popular vote, and Republican congressmen gain inordinate seats relative to actual votes.

Until Democrats and Independents focus on restoring voting rights and fighting state and local efforts to restrict voting, our American democracy is in peril.
jammo1 (stony brook NY)
I hear much talk about how the democrats lost because they didn't include those "forgotten" people who have not experience the upturn in the economy. What I don't hear from the analysts and pundits is a possible solution. Should we tell these folks that the dems will bring jobs back? That the government will take care of them by giving tax breaks to the wealthy? Or, hey, don't bother trying? What do these people want the government to do? One of the proposed solutions I heard was free higher education. An opportunity to better oneself. I heard tax breaks for the working class and wealthy citizens paying their fair share. I heard jobs creation in the alternative fuel industry. Aren't all of these policy points plans to help these people? Why would they vote AGAINST their own self-interest? I know, maybe more questions than answers but I just don't like this blame game. Six months ago we were talking about the failure of the Republican Party and now, because of 70,000 votes in 3 states the dems are dead? Doesn't make sense to me.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
There are about 100 out of about 800 federal judicial seats held vacant, in addition to the the Supreme Court vacancy, that are about to be filled with antediluvian reptiles from Snakebit Holler. This will be a stain very difficult to wash out.
mgaudet (Louisiana)
All good points, and we should remember that those that voted Trump are those that want government off of their backs!
rebecca1048 (Iowa)
Neither party has been delivering for the blue collar working man. I'm pretty sure they are fed up. Wasn't Trump the anti-establishment candidate on the Republican side?
AM (U.S.)
Was it anti-intellectualism, or just plain hubris?

The Dunning Kruger effect says the less we know about a subject, the more we think we know.

It seems that a significant portion of voters identified with Trump because they, like Trump, overrate their own knowledge and underestimate the skill required to be President.
HT (New York City)
It is not ignorance which is lack of knowledge. It is stupidity. Not having a solution and making things worse with the expectation that someone else will fix it. If you discount the possibility that worse will be the failure of the economy or war or wide spread chaos, perhaps that is not implausible.
berale8 (Bethesda)
Yes, ignorance is strength. Another way of looking at it is that American voters get what hey ask for. With or without the national majority. Costs from the Nixon, Reagan and G.W. Bush for the American people have been enormous, increasingly higher, and the only conceptual economic element for doing, it has been the (in)famous Laffer curve. While we should not expect that this time the costs will recede, let us maintain optimistic, relying on the strenght of American institutions and hoping that the duration of the decay process willl be shorter than expected.
FW Armstrong (Seattle WA)
Call it what it is, Fascism.

He is delusional, and all circumstantial evidence indicates he has committed treason.

Lie detector tests for all white-house personnel, and show us the tax returns.
miriam (Astoria, Queens)
Polygraph ("lie-detector") tests are unreliable. People frightened of being falsely accused produce false positives; cool and accomplished liars produce false negatives.
Hazel (<br/>)
Can we stop blaming the fossil fuel industry for global warming?

If you don't like what their products do to the environment, stop using them!

It's us, PEOPLE in the first world countries, who have created global warming. It's so much more satisfying to blame the evil oil companies, but in fact it is us, the user of their products, who have created global warming. The problem, and the solution, rests with us.
gdanmitchell (SF Bay Area, California, USA)
"Mr. Abe did not, as far as we know, respond by calling his host President Donald."

Actually, in the live translation of the event that I listened to, Abe did refer to "Donald." I distinctly recall thinking how odd that was.
John M (Providence, RI)
So many troubling comments and actions from the Trump administration. What worries me the most is the constant reference to "Fake News". I see this as an attempt get out in front of the really bad revelations that will surely come to light in the coming months.
Chris Parel (McLean, VA)
Vacums are notorously filled by hot air. The inconpetent and ideologes buble to the top. Meritocrasy is replaced by family and loyale minons. Experts and expertis is mistrusted because it is malunderstood. Bad speling is a red flag of a democrasy in troble.
dee (Lexington, VA)
I live in rural Virginia, so let me keep this simple, as that really works around here. If you are smart, or from some place else, you are bad. If you purposefully shun intellect, and have calloused hands you are great. It's that black and white. The rural "hard working man" (although I believe that any work is hard) is better than everyone else, period.

When I first moved here from a large urban area, a local farmer asked me if I thought being raised in the country was better than being raised in the city. I surprised him with my answer of, "No". I said neither is better, they are just different, and both with some good points and some bad points.

I don't buy the argument that rural American has been left out, and the result was revenge by electing Trump. They want to be left out, and left alone. Most who are unemployed won't leave the area for work, many hold on to an obsolete idea that jobs will come to them. And nearly everyone believes that educated outsiders have taken something away from them, instead of bringing something to them, like work.

The worse part, this "you are better" ideology is played out in the local fundamental churches. It is approved by god and validated by some self-anointed right-wing "theologian".

We are being duped by a dangerous intersection of religion and regional identity. Looking at our new Twitter in chief, we just got the worst manifestation of this ideology.

Make rural America rule, and screw everyone else, is more like it.
wanderer (Boston, MA)
In the mid-2000s I lived in Charlottesville, VA , and I noticed that there were a lot of Hispanic workers in the area. So, I assume that your good rural folks have been displaced by the good rural land and business owning folks in favor of the good rural foreign workers.
Zander1948 (upstateny)
Despite the fact that Trump kept saying that he's "a very smart person, smarter than the generals," his followers disdain educated people, mainly because those people realize that climate change is real, that coal is no longer king, and that WEB DuBois is DU BOIS and not DE BOIS, and that Fredrick Douglass is no longer of this earth. Educated people know about this country's historical facts, and that those matter. Educated people have a concept that trickle-down economics do not work, and that people who hold cabinet-level positions should hold even a modicum of qualifications in order to do a job. Educated people realize that the experience of long-time civil servants can be valuable to an incoming administration, even if for a short time of transition, so that the new administration can learn how things work (I'm reminded of Jared Kushner's question at the White House of how many of the Obama administration's staff would be staying on after January 20, and, when the response was "None," he was simply incredulous). Educated people realize that someone who says he carries a copy of "The U.S.S. Constitution" in his pocket to a reporter is actually referring to Old Ironsides, docked in Charlestown, MA. Educated people read books, such as Malcolm Nance's "The Plot to Hack America," published before the 2016 election, that outline in great detail Russia's involvement in getting Trump elected. And, of course, educated people only live on the coasts. And read the NYT.
just Robert (Colorado)
In the old Keystone Cops moviese incompetence was glorified and funny mainly because everyone knew that this was a satire. But when satire becomes the norm it is no longer funny but terrifying. We still try to laugh, but deep down we are building bomb shelters.
Andrew G. Bjelland, Sr. (Salt Lake City, Utah)
"But let me not be too hard on the Tweeter-in-chief: disdain for expertise is general in his party. For example, the most influential Republican economists aren’t serious academics with a conservative bent, of whom there are many; they’re known hacks who literally can’t get a number right."

Rose Friedman, Milton Friedman's wife, herself completed an ABD in Economics and held a bachelors degree in philosophy from Reed College. Her comments with respect to economists and economic theories are particularly instructive:

"I have always been impressed by the ability to predict an economist's positive (meaning economically scientific ) view from my knowledge of his political orientation, and I have never been able to persuade myself that the political orientation was the consequence of the positive views. My husband continues to resist this conclusion, no doubt because of his unwillingness to believe that his own positive views can be so explained, and his characteristic generosity in being unwilling to attribute different motives to others than himself." From: Milton and Rose Friedman, "Two Lucky People" (University of Chicago Press, 1998) pp. 217-218.
Andy W (Chicago, Il)
A crude and simple man with a crude and simple mind. A broken mind addicted exclusively to self gratification. A mind not made for leadership, only for gorging itself exclusively on pseudo-worship. Trump acts exactly like any heroin addict, desperate for his next fix. Only now the drug is made from America's blood, treasure and very soul.
Freeman101 (Hendersonville, NC)
I suppose I am one of the “elites” since I have degrees from Johns Hopkins and Yale, but I am not ashamed of the label. While I did learn about ideas and theories and even some facts, my most import learning was how to go to the library and look things up (long before the internet). I learned how to see things from various points of view and come to my own conclusions. I learned that starting from a position of humility rather than arrogance made it possible to learn, grow, and sometimes change – even radically.

I will stipulate that DJT and many of the the people around him are smart. Unfortunately, they totally lack the humility required to learn anything. They make one mistake after another out of ignorance and defend their foolishness rather than learning from it. They are generating crises all on their own that are unnecessary, and God only knows what they will do with an external crisis requiring clear-eyed, non-partisan leadership. That’s where my fear is coming from today.
Sue (New York)
I agree and we've seen this characteristic before - think Sarah Palin, GWB. It's one thing not to have knowledge, but when you can't be bothered to learn, it's unacceptably arrogant.
kcbob (Kansas City, MO)
Sadly, the evidence grows that we have a truly mentally ill President of the United States. His ignoring of reality is pathological. It suggests he has his own reality in which he dwells.

This is called psychosis. There is also an overabundance of paranoia.

And there is a denial of reality thus far from the Republicans.

This is a volatile situation. It is unparalleled in American history. It's a test we cannot afford to fail.
Sylvia Henry (Danville, VA)
Mr. Abe did not end the weekend in ignorance. He now knows that a big show of wealth and an contrived intimacy are this President's answers for lack of knowledge and willingness to learn. I imagine he returned to Japan resolved to form alliances and develop programs that will make Japan much more able to defend its own interests.
ALALEXANDER HARRISON (New York City)
I am sure that the vast majority of the millions of TRUMP'S supporters could not care less whether the Pres. Elect calls the Japanese p.m. by his first name or last. They r too busy trying to find work in an economy that is still suffering from the mistakes made by the previous admin.\ which increased the national debt by trillions, drove many to seek welfare, and followed policies which cheapened the labor pool with a flood of undocumented immigrant labor.Also not advisable to commence a column by telling us about your foreign travels, professor Krugman. Its like rubbing it in to those of us who can barely put together enough part time work to feed our families. Maintain that a number of you at the paper have it in for Trump because he is a wasp. Saw a lot of anti wasp rancor when I was at the Board of Ed., and if u were not part of the inner sanctum of the elite within the department, you were excluded from being given a good program. Not always, but often,
rebecca1048 (Iowa)
Reminds me of our local college. Put a referendum before the people as they could not maintain computers and whatnot, and the next year the English department was headed to Greece.
Wally Wolf (Texas)
There are some in this country who are too ignorant to be afraid. I have absolutely no trust in the Trump Administration and think they are capable of anything that will benefit Donald Trump, his brand and Putin. The republicans are going along with Trump because they hope they can now push through their one-percent-backed agenda if they let Trump get his way. The American people are the last consideration of either Trump or the republicans. It’s inconceivable to me that there are any citizens left in this country who cannot or will not see the truth and are still pliable victims.
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
Ignorance is bliss. Now Prof. Krugman is telling me its strength. Educators like you and me have a continuing responsibility to educate our president and his cabinet of whats right and what is just. Valuable lessons from history should be learned and future should be planned in an appropriate manner. The presidents before Trump in this century made mistakes but Bush made enormous blunders. Ignorance in knowing those mistakes and repeating them will not be a strength.
Purvis (New York)
The opening anecdote about the president referring to the Prime Minister incorrectly is very telling, and likely a window into The Donald's mindset. It belittles the Japanese state by treating their leader the way one would say.... address their caddy.

Unless of course it is an attempt to transition into a royal form of address used in countries with monarchies, such as King Donald.
kay (new york)
What we are witnessing is a group of cons who's soul purpose is to blow up the government for the benefit of themselves, a rich class that is so utterly corrupt and sprinkle slave wage jobs on the peasants that elected them while they fleece the country dry. It's the deals we don't know about that are we have to fear. This cabal has no allegiance to this country whatsoever. It's about more money and power for the most corrupt and nothing more. Hopefully the sane that are inside will wake up shortly and do what is necessary to save the Republic.
Aaron Drake (Chicago)
Thanks Mr. Paul,
As a taxi driver, I learned something new today.
The line you're taking, which 99% of people would -better word here- "frown" at, is that bureaucracy matters
In a civilization of 7 billion people there is certainly room for technical experts.
Bureaucracy is not the enemy, it just needs to be better.
In the days of the Babylonian kings they aspired to be remembered as great gardeners . . . such a deceptively simple thing.
This country is run by barbarians. If only they could see themselves.
Larry (Miami Beach)
How did we get here? How can it be that the upper echelons of our government actually revel in their anti-intellectualism?

Look no further than our high schools and universities. Most Americans care a lot more about Friday night football games than Friday morning exams. Likewise, next month we'll incessantly talk about "March Madness" and root for our alma mater institutions with great pride and vigor. But, how many of us will speak (or even know) of recent academic achievements and discoveries?

And so, China and India continue to laugh and laugh and laugh, while we wave our big foam fingers.

Except, now it isn't so funny, because the anti-intellectuals are in charge. And as Dr. Krugman notes, they "have no idea what they're doing, on any front."
rebecca1048 (Iowa)
Don't knock the sports, it has kept many a young kid out of trouble!
j. von hettlingen (switzerland)
Trump is alarmingly ignorant to be POTUS. But then in the last 16 years, except for Obama, Americans had voted two Republican presidents who went to the best schools but were totally ignorant of history, philosophy, science, geography, languages etc. The country was run by neocons under Bush, and Svengalis and Rasputins under Trump.
Unlike Bush, who had the decency to not even try to understand geopolitics and what's written in the Washington Post or the NYT, Trump reads InfoWars, Breitbart etc. and makes up his own stories. Critics never freaked out about Bush the way they do about Trump. They say "Bush was their moron, while Trump is his own moron." Bush can only hope that Trump would succeed him as the worst president in recent history.
common sense advocate (CT)
"Malevolence may indeed be tempered by incompetence" is the only hopeful thing to hold onto about Trump to-date. Those who pray for a Trump impeachment may get something far worse: an extremely productive Christian Shariah presidency.
Mark Guzewski (Ottawa, Ontario)
"malevolence tempered by incompetence"
After reading that line it was the 1st time that I was slightly relieved that trump is such an idiot. Imagine if that malevolence was acted on by someone really smart. That could cause serious damage.
Etienne (Los angeles)
The short-running reality play, "Trump: Hyperbole in Motion" is running out of gas. Soon there will be a made-in-Hollywood movie: "Trump: Redux" or perhaps "Trump vs Godzilla". In any case I would much prefer the Hollywood version to this "Theatre of the Absurd" we are presently living through.

On a serious note: How can anyone be surprised at the total lack of competency exhibited by the Trump administration? We saw exactly what we were in for during the campaign. I hope the supporters of this buffoon are happy with "change" that both he and they have wrought to our country. I no longer have any sympathy for the right wing whiners of the "fly-over" states...who, by the way, are the recipients of more federal funds than they contribute. As someone once said: "Let them twist in the wind".
CWC (NY)
Are we witnessing the beginning of end of American exceptionalism. A Civil society? The revenge and rise of the intolerant?
A national mental breakdown?
Two of the most interesting explanations I've heard from Trump voters.
To paraphrase, "Trump says the things that the voices in my head are screaming." Steven Colbert
The other? "Trump says things I agree with but can't I say at home in front of my family or at work in front of my co-workers."
Andrew G. Bjelland, Sr. (Salt Lake City, Utah)
As long as the incompetent bumbling distracts us from the Trump clan's and friends' efficient kleptocratic restructuring of the economy, society and politics, the President-Don, his avaricious family, his plutocratic friends and his enablers, especially Speaker Ryan, will all be exceedingly pleased.
hoosier lifer (johnson co IN)
Trump seems to have a learning disability which he confabulates to hide. And at his age possibly some early stage dementia. He maybe unable to remember details well and panic then default to his extreme confidence which has served him well all his life.
Whatever the cause he is unfit to be President.
Terrifyingly it also makes him easily used by the evil creeps who have manipulated him to gain power. They are moving so swiftly to enact their dark plans because they know what a house of cards he is. They are dark revolutionaries and in no way Conservative.
Marge (near Seattle)
I am puzzled by the comments equating former Secretary of State Clinton and ignorance. I can only guess that these commentors didn't listen to any of her many hearings or the debates. In those Secretary Clinton should in depth knowledge of world affairs, world leaders and US concerns around the world; the complete opposite of what we see in the Trump administration
Laady in Green (Bellevue, Wa)
Don't pay attention to Trump, oay attention to where the real damage to our country will be done, in the house of representativs. Under boy Ryan 100 years of prop citizen legislation will be ovreturmed. We could see the end of the New Deal as republican move to privatize and profitize government.
Bob (SE PA)
Prof. Krugman, thanks but my fear level maxed out at DEFCON 5 on Election Night. The needle is stuck and it cannot go higher.

I beg to differ with your point about incompetence. It's not a bug in this wildly successful confidence man's game: It's the key ingredient, his 'secret sauce'! For what would have happened if, after convincing suckers to invest in his AC casino, he had allowed it to be run with a modicum of ability? Would he have been able to extract millions and millions of dollars out of a business not careening toward hopeless failure, and then declare bankruptcy on the resulting disaster to capture the losses (incurred by others) for tax purposes? And to think, this allowed him to avoid paying taxes on his real estate profits (and his Apprentice earnings) over the subsequent 18 years!
He will absolutely plunder America the way he plundered Atlantic City. And as you rightly label his running of the Executive branch to be incompetent, his net worth will double and then double again.
Bob (SE PA)
The key question: It won't be the tax code that yields his profits from plundering America, but what will produce his payday? I think it might be his favorite thing in the world, gold. He puts gold on everything; Surely he is a goldbug! And while goldbugs are almost always wrong about the future price of the metal, he may be the first one who is right, because he now controls its fate! The Fed chairman will be his appointee, he has the ability to ruin the U.S. and the world financially, and even go back to some variant of the gold standard if he wishes. After 40 years of mocking goldbugs, I am about to become one for the first time in my life!
JAM (Florida)
Did anyone ever doubt that the Trump Administration was going to have a very tough first year governing this country? Trump himself has never been elected to public office and therefore has no real experience with government. His staff is predominately outsiders with little experience in even prior Republican administrations. His cabinet is still being held up in the Senate. He was elected as an outlier who was going to shake up Washington and bring a new attitude to the Federal Government. His opposition is vehement and determined to obstruct his policies anyway that it can. So, why the surprise & shock at the mistakes thus far?

Every new administration needs some time to put itself in order and implement its policies, The Trump Administration needed to prove itself immediately to its constituents and began implementing polices with great haste and in a somewhat slipshod manner. It remains to be seen whether this administration will be able to produce substantive polices that will benefit the United States. Even then, Paul Krugman and other liberals will not be happy with those results.
jmc (Stamford)
Four years of Trumpian ignorance and stupidity will feature eruptions of idiocy.

It would be laughable as bad politics but the proclamations of huuuge success at the WhiteHouse are dangerous with the pipsqueak trying to establish the Big Lie as truth.

The crackpots who shape economic policy of this unhinged bunch are dangerous ideologues with the advantage of inheriting a strong economy on the upswing.

Those few voters who gave Trump the presidency will continue to suffer from the leadership vacuum and the throes of change that will have occur.
Michael McCord (Exeter, NH)
As Mr. Krugman is aware, this political trend by the GOP Taliban towards full-scale ignorance and worshiping of incompetence has been evolving over the years but had become formalized by conspiracy theorist/hysteria whipping Trump. As a former political editor & reporter I saw this coming drip by drip, step by step (especially since the Tea Party uprising in 2009: birtherism, death panels, etc.) I made it as essential part of my 2013 political satire (http://www.the-execution-channel.com) about a Real America gone bonkers. This nonsense from my main (incoherent) leader is adored by few citizens still allowed to vote: “Real men, Real Americans ignore the facts and pay homage to their gut instincts, which they know are right. I don’t believe in history, I don’t believe there is a real history that the liberal cowards and moocher takers would have you believe. There is no history, only the glory of Real American faith.” Or as this wonderfully corrupt Governor also noted: "The taller the tale, the easier the sale."
We are in for ride that combines Alice in Wonderland, 1984, Kafka and Marx Brothers. Not for the faint of heart.
Petey tonei (MA)
Mr Paul, you are fooling yourself thinking that policy wonks and intellectuals at the top make America work, function. No. Its Big Money. The monied are the ones who run America. They buy politicians, they decide who gets a tax break, they decide which of their cronies get business contracts. It has always been the case, whether democrats or republicans. The Clintons raised so much money in the name of Hillary Victory Fund which supposedly bought the loyalties of 30 democratic state parties. Who donated so much money to the Clintons? It certainly wasn't little people. George Clooney said it was an obscene amount of money. Raised by Wall Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Entertainment industry. Each one of these had interests in democrats winning. That is how it works. Those in power (our humble law makers) exploit big money because they do not have to go far, just step from their offices into the Capitol Hill lobby lined up with special interests, willing to grease palms. Whether it is Big Pharma, Auto, IT, Oil and gas, aviation....name it..big money flows from big deep pockets to our country's capital. So please don't pretend that intellectuals run the country.
Gerard (PA)
My wife commented when she did hear the prime minister refer to the president as Donald, without even a -san. Sounded strange to us, but this article explains the cause. This subtle, comic rebuke will have been understood in Japan.
Nadim Salomon (NY)
Indeed. He was going to repeal and replace Obamacare on day 1 and replace it quite wonderful health insurance. It is easy. He knows how to do it. What about his taxes? What about infrastructure? He will start a war before he releases his taxes.
Nancy (New York)
I begin to wonder if Trump is as terrified as we are. He has absolutely no idea how to do this job.

Trump's business philosophy was always 'sue the contractor'. It's clear now he plans to use the same approach to government. Soon the man may be grateful to be impeached.
Tuvw Xyz (Evanston, Illinois)
You are right: it is not at all trivial to confuse the forename with the surname, and it is a sign of cultural ignorance and lack of courtesy. Apart the Far-eastern custom of placing the surname first, this is also the practice in Iceland. The tendency in the US to address people by their forename makes everybody look like pets.
Russell Ekin (Greensboro, NC)
Part of the answer to the question, "how come they won?" is voters did not trust Hillary Clinton. Its is a great disservice to this debate that the politically motivated investigations into her emails has been ignored post election.
Karen Porter, Indivisible Chapelboro (Carrboro, NC)
Stephen Miller should move to North Korea, where he would fit right in - as would most of the Obnoxious One's staff.
Jon (Alabama)
Donald Trump and his administration are making me want for the Good Ol' Bush days, when at least there was some attempt to bring in folks with a simblance of competence ("Doing a great job, Brownie" aside). If the Republicans really think our illustrious leader is "Making America Great again" I think they need to really evaluate their criteria. America has become the laughing stock of the world. World leader such as Putin and Xi Jinping are sleeping pretty good at night. I wish I could.
Or, Is Ignorance Bliss? (Michigan)
But why is the so-called President always telling us how smart he is, and that no one understands things better than he does?
Bob (My President Tweets)
Trump reminds me of Winston's next door neighbor's awful, violent stupid kid in '1984'.

Read '1984.
Commrade trump's zoo keeper's bannon and miller sure have.
Sterling (Brooklyn)
Are you surprised that the leader of the GOP is ignorant? Most people in the GOP believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs lived together. Ignorance is a virtue among the intolerant religious zealots that form the backbone of the party of Hate.
Lake Woebegoner (MN)
Ignorance is Krugman. So, is malevoncy.
Jim Buttle (Lakefield, ON)
"Ignorance is Krugman. So, is malevoncy."
Irony is not dead.
Rea Tarr (Malone, NY)
A distinguished professor, a Novel prize winner, a revered columnist for one of the best-of-maybe-five newspapers ever published in this world. This is, to you Lake Woebegoner (you, who fails to come up with an original nom de plume) is ignorance, sir?

You might consider a new tag. "Chutzpah," maybe.
Marty Rolnick (Scarsdale, NY)
Unfortunately I've lost most of the respect I have for Paul Krugman. If he looked into the mirror and was intellectually honest with himself, he would admit and then ask for forgiveness for contributing to our current situation. The people wanted Bernie Sanders! Every poll confirmed this. But Paul and his elite media colleagues marginalized Bernie to support Hillary. The people didn't want Hillary. So they chose Trump. Now Paul wants to be taken seriously? Really? Are you so smug Paul that you don't see how you've lost credibility among a huge segment of our society because of your betrayal? We trusted you and needed you to be objective. When you ask for forgiveness, only then will you begin to rebuild our trust and be a critical part of the solution to help navigate us through this scary time!
BDS (NYC)
If the people truly wanted Bernie, millions more wouldn't have voted for Hillary in the primary.

3 million more people wanted Hillary over Trump.
ZS (Los Angeles)
I wanted Hillary.
LH (Beaver, OR)
We are facing a grand test of our democracy. Will the balance-of-powers function as designed? Are democrats going to wake up to the fact that business-as-usual is out of step with the electorate? Are we supposed to be afraid and continually vote against sheer stupidity or do we vote for candidates who are honest and genuinely share our principles and beliefs?
Stacy (Manhattan)
For the past several years I taught as an adjunct professor at a non-selective private college. My class was open to juniors and seniors who were either majoring or minoring in the subject area, and most of my students were final semester seniors, all of whom were of traditional college age (21-23 years old). In addition to a handful of foreign students, the students came from around the country (NJ, Long Island, CT, TX, CA, PA, FL), with a handful from the city. Virtually all the Americans were educated in public schools.

They were really nice kids. They were also so woefully uneducated it was hard to comprehend. Many (about half) could not read fluently. Ordinary words flummoxed them. Their writing skills ranged from about a 6th grade level to 11th. As I was trying to work them through a discussion of an assigned article it became clear that a reference to WWI was confusing them. Not one student out of the class of 20 knew the basics - when and where it occurred, and who fought. Never mind why. As for the American Civil War, I had students positing that it must have been fought in France. Not one of them had ever heard of Emerson, and while they did know Whitman was a writer, none had ever read his poetry - including one young lady who ruefully admitted she had attended the high school named after him. And these examples are only skimming the surface.

This was a wake up call for me. It places the Trump phenomenon in some context.
Joe A (Bloomington, IN)
O, and I'm sure we can expect MUCH better results now that Sec. DeVos is ruining...sorry, running the Dept. of Education.
The fact that we couldn't find ONE MORE Republican with a conscience or a sense of dignity to have kept this foolish woman away from the children of this country says all I need to know about the GOP---Greed Over People.
DM Bekus (Skillma NJ)
Never being a big trump fan I tend to agree with 1/2 of the complaints about trump. But what makes me give up on the other side is when I hear "toward “elites who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought.". The hypocrisy, the unbelievable foreign policy incompetence, and awful economic pogroms of the last regime and their elites with 'careful thought' lets me deal with a bunch who is fast knowing they know not- then the last crew who did not know they knew not- and quite frankly are still clueless (see house, senate, governors, state legislative elections over the last 9 years)
JMM. (Ballston Lake, NY)
This anti-intellectualism has been promoted by the GOP, along with bigotry and xenophobia, as a means to entice voters to vote against their own interests for years. Bush. Palin. Reagan. The terms "out of touch," "real America," "common sense solutions," "intellectual elites," "coastal elites," etc. are winks to the uniformed to let them know that the GOP has their backs. No need for these fancy ivy league degrees. No need for data!
At least Trump put it out there: "I love the poorly educated." Yep - and they love him back.
Tom White (Pelham, NY)
Paul, I get your desire to explain the seriousness of the gestalt to the core opposition to Trump, but where you could add real value is by coming up with a core policy that will give the Democrats an ability to address the economic issues that decided this election and gave us this awful situation.
Matt (Ohio)
Mockery and outright ridicule are likely to be the best methods for exposing the sheer incompetence and idiocy of this president, "administration" and it's spokespeople to its supporters. They may not get a lot, but when outright laughter starts regularly greeting Trump's pronouncements and "policies", they'll at the very least have to start questioning why. Well, maybe, but one can only hope.
L. F. File (North Carolina)
Well, a reasoned approach to public policy has long been a bug and not a feature of good government for the GOP's most steadfast supporters. The evangelicals know that as critical thinking creeps into public education that old time religion seeps out. As long as things are carefully categorized as either good or evil and flip-flopping is held to a minimum they will be happy.

Reality need not intrude.

lff
Mark Smith (Fairport NY)
As incompetent as I thought that GWB was going to be, it still took six years before the rest of the country caught on. We are still living with that debacle to today as we have a structural deficit based on the his tax cutting principals.

Given a reasonable job market, the people may never catch on. His die-hards will die-hard. A Republican has to nearly destroy the country before his base turns on him.
Serge Choquette (Quebec)
While all this is entirely true, it might have helped prevent the popular furor that elected Trump if the Democrats had addressed income inequality more aggressively under Obama and hadn't allowed the 1% dabble uncontrollably in the honey pot like Winnie the Pooh. Just a thought for the next democratic policy platform.
Allan Leedy (Portland, Oregon)
This is not new. According to sources on line, Galileo "was brought to Rome to face charges of heresy on this date in 1633. He had been arguing with the Roman Catholic Church for some time about astronomical matters. Church doctrine taught that the Earth was the center of the universe, with the sun, moon, and stars all revolving around it. The Church pointed to the writings of Aristotle and Ptolemy, as well as the Bible, to support this view. To suggest anything else would imply that we did not enjoy a central place in God's creation."
rebecca1048 (Iowa)
Isn't he the guy that told the church the earth was round, because the mast arose from the sea?
tbs (detroit)
Krugman is correct in the many criticisms of the ridiculous occupation of the White House.
The fusillade of negative critiques are well warranted from across the spectrum of disciplines.
However, I sadly note the absence of one voice that not too long ago sought to lead this country. A voice that one would imagine would be heard by a great many, but remains silent. Where is Hillary Clinton? Why has she not spoken?
Nancy (Northwest WA)
What could she possibly say that hasn't already been said? And she would become once again, the target of nasty tweets from he who must not be named.
Rea Tarr (Malone, NY)
Because even the finest person only can take just so much crap, tbs.

She'll be there for the next one to come to bat for us, I'd say.
David (Brooklyn)
What Trump is aiming for is war. Excellent for business, they say. Textiles do well and as LBJ found, it is also a good way to fight the war on poverty.
“I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one,the most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages," Teddy Roosevelt penned, rather that Tweeted to a friend. In Trump's business plan, savages would be our Muslims brothers and sisters. I'm feeling very cynical today.
The Observer (Pennsylvania)
Democrats and all reasonable people must fight, obstruct, resist and demonstrate in every non-violent way possible all the dumb and extreme Trump and Republican agenda.
We have no option left but to educate, and inform all the trump voters how they have been conned.

Tell them how they might lose their Healthcare, face cut in their Medicare and Social Security.

Ask them whether they see those good paying jobs that were promised during the campaign beginning to come back?
Davide (Pittsburgh)
If ignorance is strength, then this is looking to be the Paul Bunyan of presidencies. This trickles down to the most mundane levels, as Dr. Krugman noted. After following links to sources of several official memos, I'm struck by their junior-high-level (to be charitable) mishmash of typos, punctuation salad, random capitalization, bad grammar, malapropisms, stilted langage and just plain awkward and unnatural phraseology.

You'd think that a Trump adminstration would have within its ranks some level of competence in the mother tongue, given its unapologetically nativist proclivities.
Bruce (Pippin)
I was having a tough time trying to figure out how the working class white voter felt a connection with Trump. Other than the fact he is a white man, he has never done a days work of manual labor in his life, he goes to the bathroom on a toilet that costs more the houses or cars of the people who voted for him, and he has never had a boss. He is the total opposite of the people who voter for him other than the most one very important quality, his intellect. The uneducated white working class voter relates to Trump's lack of intelligence, they feel a connection with his ignorance. Obama was too smart, Hillary was too smart Trump is just dumb enough.
Madeleine215 (The Bronx)
This is an excellent column by Mr. Krugman. Not only did 45 and his cronies butcher the simplest of things regarding what should've been handled as a formal State Visit complete with a state dinner at the White House but they conducted foreign policy in full view of regular people in the dining room of his private club while waiters served food and someone was singing in the background! 45 then proceeded to ignore the statement that was prepared for him and basically say after Mr Abe spoke "what he said". These are scary times for this country. Ignorance and arrogance are never a good combination.

But hey, her emails!
dgt (Detroit)
He is unfit for office. Unfit to lead.
flak catcher (New Hampshire)
A case of the insane running the asylum and the brain-dead doing the neurosurgery.
flak catcher (New Hampshire)
Our ignorance is Trump's strength, my fellow fools. I know how the GOP managed it: by cutting taxes and starving our public school children of knowledge and healthy food.
It's truly evil what the GOP has done through deception and posturing as Christian. Open the Bible. Greed doesn't earn you an "A", friends. Lying doesn't win you a place in Heaven.
But it sure gets you fancy cars and nice homes and vacations in the Caribbean...AND your children in fancy private schools where they're either taught how to make a trillion or how superior they are to others.
z;lk135uffa;s (USA)
Two classic books to read on this subject, after everyone finishes "1984," are by Richard Hofstadter and still in print: "Anti-intellectualism in American Life" and "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." Who better than Orwell and Hofstadter could've scripted Trump's victory and the first weeks of his administration? Or, rather, maybe they could've forewarned and saved us by scripting a better outcome for the 2016 election!
Uncle Tony (Somewhere in Arizona)
Paul, you're a brillian man, but once again you blew it. He won NOT because of "anti-intellectualism" and hatred of the "elites". He won because the Press started out simply parroting everything that clown said (ie, "Trump will make Mexico Pay for the Wall" rather than "Who Does Trump Think He's Fooling") and the majority of American votership is so incuriously simple that they believed it. Any other analysis is denial that you guys failed at journalism 101. I have the headlines from NYT, WP, and everyone else and it was pathetic the wide berth you gave him during the primary. The Press was so fixated on destroying Fox that you actually seemed to support Trump when he went after Megyn Kelly. Journalism isn't parroting what the liars want us to believe. Journalism is supposed to be a public service to help the public understand whether or not they are bad guys in the first place. Otherwise, you're just another propaganda wing for the political agenda du jour. Where were you when the media was predicing a 98.5% chance of a Hillary win? You can't possibly believe Trump won despite an objective Press analysis of his claims and lies. Please do continue your economic analysis of the fine mess that Trump is getting us into, but please stop your rewriting history. The record is clear that the Press led the lemmings to their vote, pure and simple, and now it's too cowardly to accept responsibility and atone for their sins.
Robert (KY)
Biggest mistake the electorate can make, giving both Houses of Congress to the same political party.
ted (portland)
Just curious Paul, why no mention of the real elephants in the room? No mention of David Friedman, The Pro Settlement Right Wing Ambassador to Israel, Mnunchin and Cohen around the money and Trump B.F.F. schwartzmann at The Presidents right hand during the first economic conference? Could the reason be that it approximates who would have been at the table with Clinton, so what's the difference? I know it's early days but it would appear that we already have Government by Goldman(Sachs) and A.I.P.A,C. so it hardly matters who won as long as there was continum for the gang really in charge and with this crew running the show I expect War with Iran is imminent (they are the last serious threat to Israel not currently being decimated) and the fleecing of the The World to accelerate. You mentioned infrastructure Paul, surely an economist such as yourself can see where this is headed, the same place Schwartzmann took Southern Cross(nursing homes) in the U.K. and Cohen and Blankfein took Greece, privatization, cook the books, load with debt the taxpayer will backstop, strip mine the assets, make big $! The Post office has already started, Schwartzmann neighbor Jeff Greene got the beautiful Palm Beach P.O. for a pittance as they (we) rent two facilities in generic buildings for an amount that makes no sense whatsoever given what the P.O. was sold for, of course that was under the previous administration, so no mention. Expect more bankers feasting at the public trough and a draft!
Karekin (USA)
This incredible display of outright ignorance, of which they're all very proud, should be something they're embarrassed by, but clearly they're not. So, we must ask ourselves, why not? Any reasonable person, when told the iron is hot - DON'T TOUCH IT! - will quickly listen and learn, but if not they're certain to get burned at some point. My guess is, we've not reached that point, yet. And, maybe that is the point? The people behind Trump who are pulling the strings, know exactly what they're doing. Trump and his crowd are just willing accomplices to the destruction of our form of government from the inside. They don't want anyone to look behind the curtain, that's for sure, so everyone in the Trump administration works very hard, especially Mr. Trump, creating distractions, causing us and the media to look elsewhere, at the most obvious flubs. While some citizens might protest, the real digging must be done by those on the inside, who have the power to reveal , uncover and stop this internal coup of American democracy. They owe it to us.
Peter S (Narberth, PA)
To Mr. Krugman and the Editors of the NY Times:

Please, please, please stop putting Donald Trumps photograph on top of every article or column that mentions him. By making his image as omnipresent and ubiquitous as that of Big Brother in Orwell's "1984", you are only serving his agenda.

I am a longtime devoted reader of Mr. Krugman. I often post a link to his columns on my Facebook feed to share with my friends and colleagues. I am a subscriber to the New York Times, and I encourage others to do the same. This, supposedly, brings more readers and ad revenue to the New York Times itself.

But I refuse anymore to be part of sharing his smirking mug on social media platforms! When I can, I simply excise the photo from the link to the article. When I can not, I copy and paste the text of the article into my post. I do not want to share his face, his image, his propaganda. I want to remove his power over us, not build it.

I ask Mr. Krugman to please speak to the photo editors of the online New York Times. There are so many other images that can accompany this article. Don't just default to displaying an image of Donald Trump because it draws attention. This kind of media laziness is what got us into this trouble in the first place.

Thank you.
Ken (My Vernon, NH)
"the most influential Republican economists aren’t serious academics". You mean, like you?

Paul is feeling sad that he will be ignored for the next four or eight years by anyone in power. It is so unfair. He prostituted himself over and over again, only to lose. To a loser.

He had those visions of sugar plums dancing around his head, and all he had to do was write nonsense in support of Hillary. That prestigious government job was in the bag.

And then... Trump!

Life is so unfair. It is everyone else's fault.
Sabrina (San Francisco)
Yeah, heaven forbid Trump hire Nobel Prize winners in economics who teach at Princeton to inform policy.
dearpru (vermont)
Anyone who has worked in special education has seen the likes of Trump before. He is physically imposing bully who claims the biggest table in study hall for himself and maybe--if they act as his amplifiers--a few of his male companions may join him where they tip back their seats and dare the monitoring teacher to make them do their homework. He is the ADD, reading comprehension-challenged boy in every classroom who sits in the back of the room and disrupts the teacher and other students to the point where classroom management becomes the teacher's focus instead of the subject she is trying to teach. He is the kid who gets himself kicked out of class on purpose, and then swaggers all the way to the detention room, promising all school administrators, teachers and anyone with power over him that--when he gets out from under their thumbs--he'll get even. You'll see.
August west (Portland, Oregon)
"Mr. Abe did not, as far as we know, respond by calling his host President Donald." Did you even listen to their press conference? The Japanese translator repeatedly referred to the President as "Donald", much like Clinton did during the first debate.
caps florida (trinity,fl)
Although I voted twice for Obama and think that history will give him high marks, I also think that he made a big mistake by ignoring GWB and Pres. Cheney for their lies and deception resulting in the catastrophic Iraqi War. I'm not suggesting a direct connection to today's problems, but had Obama acted in the interests of fairness, justice and responsibility of the prior administration, would the state of our democracy be any worse than it is today? If you can prove that a crime has been committed, prosecute it!
Steve Bolger (New York City)
This is a very tricky issue because nobody who thinks things through wants to make themselves vulnerable to the charges they lodge against others, and I am sure that President Obama was aware that his race would automatically disqualify him to prosecute in the eyes of many excitable people.
froggy (CA)
I find myself enjoying these articles, pointing out the failures of this administration, perhaps some sort of Schadenfreude. But, I also feel, this is not enough. What can we do to change this situation? What did we do wrong, to allow this situation to occur?

There was a wonderful article in the Sunday Times, about how the Arab Spring petered out in Egypt. There was the government overthrow, and then, right back to an authoritarian regime. Societal values proved to overwhelm the possibilities of change. We had something like that happen here, with the Occupy movements. And now, we have all this angst, with protests, and articles, snarky or otherwise, about the current administration. Does a majority of this country really want change, and what are we willing to do, to enable it?
Ed (Austin)
Money.

If it pays to pretend ignorance, then you can be sure that someone will do it. Right now, it pays the GOP to pretend to be or actually be ignorant on any number of scientific fronts.

I don't think this would be tolerated in Northern Europe. I'm left trying to figure out what country is the level of the U.S. politics. Italy? Nigeria? I'm really not sure.
dbl06 (Blanchard, OK)
Vince Lombardi famously said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all". I say, "Fear makes cowards of Republicans all". From the leadership, in congress who are afraid to stand up to their constituents because they will get primaried to the voters who are afraid of anyone who is different. It's beyond belief that in the 21st century in supposedly the most advanced society in the history of Mankind that such tribalism exists. The fear that turned to hatred in the Trump campaign rallies didn't start with Trump. He just capitalized on what the Republican party had started in the 80's. Republican politicians know all too well that their voters are much less concerned with facts than faith and raw emotion. And now a madman is the most powerful individual in the world carrying around the "Biscuit" that can end civilization.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Government was invented to mitigate fear, not exacerbate it.

No wonder Republicans don't like the government they deliver.
Northsider (St. Paul, MN)
The greatest social problem of our era is, not to put too fine a point on it, what to do about the unintelligent half of the population. It used to be, back in the day, that unintelligent kids who failed in school could get repetitive, easy to learn blue collar jobs that paid enough to enable them to hold their heads up high as “middle class.” No more. The remaining blue collar jobs that pay well demand skills and the intelligence to obtain them. Democrats talk about job retraining programs as if it is a panacea for job loss by the incompetent, but that’s a fantasy. These are C, D and F students, remember? The only answer is to figure out how to raise wages for unskilled jobs, and to provide enough of them to employ the 50% of the population that has an IQ below 100. If we don’t do this, the right wing will employ these people as this era’s Brownshirts and concentration camp guards.
Robert FL (Palmetto, FL.)
Now would be an excellent opportunity for Democrats to hold town hall meetings!
Listen to the people, reply with measured thought-through proposals that actually address actual problems.
Demonstrate the value of true representative government versus huckster-populism.
Seize the moment, steer the ship of state away from the rocks!
Salman (Fairfax, VA)
Facts and reason are the enemy of the scoundrel. At some point, the disdain for both becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for whomever perpetuates the war against knowledge. And the entire nation will suffer as a result.

But my God, the emails!
Wind Surfer (Florida)
Outside of the US, "the idiots chose an Idiot," is often mentioned. "I thought it was Obamacare to be repealed, not my Affordable care Act," is the honest surprise by many Trump supporters that presumed Obamacare is different from Affordable Care Act. According to a reliable survey, nearly one thirds of Americans think this way.
soxin11 (Cary, NC)
Until Trump can be associated with the deaths of hundreds of thousands
of innocent civilians, including elderly, women and children, It might be best
to hold off on the hysterical response to Trumps first few weeks in office.
Jason (San Diego)
Many on the left keep saying the sky is falling, but so far nothing has happened of much consequence. Controversial orders are likely to continue to be upended by the courts, leaving many Obama-era policies have in place. It is likely that incompetence will rule the next four years. That's not the worst thing in the world.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Opportunity cost is still immeasurable, even if these village idiots avoid a crash and burn.
Paula (East Lansing, Michigan)
Trump voters seem to want all the benefits of an education without having to spend all that boring time reading and studying, and without having to pay for the education. Remember the Republican mantra that was so effective in dismissing any scientific issues: "I'm not a scientist, so I can't say whether climate change is real." Meanwhile, though not being women or doctors, they had no problem opining and making laws about abortion and women's rights.

And Trump doesn't want to know about protocol or other things--although I'm sure he's read up on the deference he is due as president--it's so much simpler to just make noise and ignore the rules. He is, after all, the Donald, and rules don't apply to him.
Banicki (Michigan)
Not everyone yet sees what brought Trump to power. It was the non college educated whites living in the inner city suburbs who were very frustrated.

These citizens who see themselves working very hard and barely any better off than those on welfare. From their vantage point these folks are mostly black. They are tired of seeing their hard earned money taken ftom them and given to those "lazy black people".

Meanwhile the rich are clamoring for tax cuts. They believe the government is bloated and needs to get more efficient. They see congress pass laws signed by the president and no one with any authority interested in efficiently implementing those laws.

We need a COO in government. .. http://lstrn.us/2jLx28y
Marv Raps (NYC)
Don't forget Nikki Haley, our new representative to the United Nations, warning delegates that she will "take names" of allies who do not support the United States. Didn't someone tell her she was not appointed head first grade teacher?

Incompetence is often admired by the incompetent. They see themselves spelling potato wrong or thinking 7% of 70% is 7. That is perhaps why some people feel the President ought to be able to overrule the Courts.

Democracy only works well with an informed and competent electorate. Rather than worrying about non-existent voter fraud, the President ought to worry about low information voters and ask his new Secretary of Education to encourage the reinstatement of Civics classes.
Marie (Boston)
Mr. Trump wrote that “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

In other words he rationalizes lying. Truthful hyperbole is an oxymoron. Lying is built into Trump's character, his style, and his very way of thinking.

Lying like that requires a willful ignorance.

He used it to effectively seal the deal of the campaign as he did his business deals.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Trump's empire may be no more substantial than Bernie Madoff's. Nobody bothered to investigate its financial structure.
S.D.Keith (Birmigham, AL)
I'd rather be governed by the first 1000 names in the Boston voter's rolls than by the faculty at Harvard University. (paraphrasing Buckley).

How utterly amazing. An academic bemoaning the rejection of academia in governance. What's next? A progressive decrying governance by people whose ideas of progress differ from theirs?

If the headline whine of the day is that Trump got the Prime Minister's name wrong--and to be fair, a great many Asians in the US adopt our practice of putting family names last--there must not be much to whine about.
Fritz Basset (Washington State)
SD, It's the symptom, not the disease, and if you can't see that I'm sorry. Turn on Fox News or go over to Breitbart where everyone revels in the arrogance of ignorance. That's not a saying, it's a fact, as much a fact as "leaders" that cannot write or speak a grammatically correct sentence.
Michael Kennedy (Portland, Oregon)
We should avoid making long comments here. Trump won't read them. Keep it short. Trump needs to go, his posse needs to go, we need to get back to being a country with a real leader. Impeach asap.
Z_i_am (New Jersey)
The problem is that the ignorance is learned. Especially from FOX news which has been the dominant news source for way too long. Rupert Murdoch's tentacles now are so deep that he has become the James Boand villain who actually makes the news. So you now have a President who watches fabricated news and then tweets the fabrication to his minions watching the same show- all they hear is affirmation.

It isn't just Trump who must be resisted. There has to be resistance to the endless lies perpetrated by FOX news and the rest of right wing media. I was particualrly dismayed recently on a trip to North Carolina where the hotel cable service offered Russia Today. The propaganda machine is starting to bend reality. I wonder if we can recover.
Ed (Oklahoma City)
Meanwhile, the deplorables wait by their mailboxes for checks from the government they are sure The Don will be sending to them, then they can get on with their miserable lives, dreaming dreams of bringing back buggy whip manufacturing plants and Ozzie and Harriet TV reruns.
BobJ (IN)
Most of the machinists who work in the shop that supports my physics lab are very good at their jobs, but beyond their technical training are relatively uneducated. And vocally proud of the fact (♪♫ We don't need no education... ♪♫). They care nothing about events outside their daily lives and yet have great disdain for those who do. The problem is—and I've been saying this for forty years—they're outbreeding the rest of us by a large margin; it was inevitable that the dumb would eventually take over.
John (Upstate NY)
I used to really enjoy the movie "Idiocracy," but now I find it a little too uncomfortably real. Your comment made me think of it.
Haitch76 (Watertown)
Create a parallel presidency with Sanders/Warren/Clinton. This triumphant will function in a similar fashion as the British shadow government. There needs to be a voice for sanity in the Era of Trump.
Ann B (MI)
Actually, Mr. Krugman just answered a question I had. When I heard Shinzo Abe's talk translated on the radio, he kept calling the President "Donald". So at least one translator did make exactly the mistake he describes.
Tom (Show Low, AZ)
The sad thing is that those who supported Trump still do. The bumbling and stumbling does not matter to them. Walking away from TPP doesn't matter to them even though it will put many farmers out of business (reported by the WSJ). And all the other goofy stuff he proposes may never happen because of the bureaucracy, checks and balances and the way Washington works. Trump may turn out to be a do nothing president except for empowering Wall Street to cheat the little guy and cause another crash.
steve cleaves (lima)
"This is especially true when the news media spend far more time obsessing over your opponent’s pseudo-scandals than they do on all actual policy issues combined." hints at the core of the problem. Anti intellectualism infects the elites and media moguls who top journalistic concern is how many eyeballs are viewing , listening or reading. The quality of TV journalism and its talking head readers demonstrates that priority clearly.
John M (Montana)
The real question is, how to we improve the educational and informational status of red-state citizens?
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Ks)
Can't be done. But, Darwin.
Bismarck (North Dakota)
Just would like to take a moment to remind everyone this is because someone used a private email server. I'm thinking this seems small potatoes now since we have a direct link to the the Kremlin, no hacking required. Let me also remind everyone the private email server was never hacked.....
Allce (Allentown)
“If they’re so dumb, how come they won?”
Because their voters love dumb people to run the country. Why? I don't know but they surely are enjoying this "incompetency" mistaken it for "bucking the establishment."
barbarra (Los Angeles)
The most frightening report of the weekend was that reporters were isolated in a basement room with blackout plastic. Did they have a bathroom? Were there men and women? Did they have water or food? What is even more frightening is that they allowed this to happen. I would have removed the plastic and asked for a lawyer. This was imprisonment. Why is no one outraged? Why do reporters pander to this man? Trump's distain for women showed in the lack of courtesy for Mrs. Abe. Certainly Mrs. Pence could have escorted Mrs. Abe. Just curious - where is Barron on these weekend junkets? Who is running the country while Trump shows off? I was shocked to see Trump's early Twitter messages about President Obama - shocking! And the press never reported this. Now we are paying the price of your ignorance.
salvatore spizzirri (long island)
the translator speaking on npr did refer the president as Donald.
October (New York)
And please don't forget sexism. Clearly this group has incredible disdain for women. It was obvious during the campaign, but Mrs. Clinton (more than anyone else) could take him on point for point. Because of the Electoral College (which really should have protected us from this monster), Mr. Trump and his vitriol won by the smallest of margins. Most Americans -- even the ones who voted for him did not and will not (I hope) continue to accept this -- he is a discredit to this country and its great history.
Mr. Anderson (Pennsylvania)
The economically oppressed in the middle and lower classes voted for a king – someone who could make things better by decree. He promptly handed over the keys to the oppressors.

Will voters allow themselves to be duped yet again into voting against their own interests?

Will our voting system allow a minority to once again choose the architects of our destiny?

Will the oppression continue and the winners of cutthroat capitalism dwindle in number?

If the answers are yes, then rule by oligarchs will be our future.
russ (St. Paul)
Krugman is excellent, as always, I just want to add that on election eve Stuart Stevens pointed out that those red state know-nothings, who supposedly hated the elites, had no problem sending their own "elites" back to the US Congress and to their own statehouses.
Stevens made his point in the context of pointing out that racism was very likely an issue in Trump's success with those voters.
Krugman's general point, peddling ignorance works, is as valid as ever. The GOP has mastered the art.
Susan (Maine)
Why do we applaud non-professionalism in our elected figures while appreciating it in our doctors, lawyers, roofers, gardeners? Our politicians awkwardly dress as lumberjacks when talking to "us people" when custom suits are clearly their natural plumage.

Even if Trump ---who famously told a college audience to surround yourself with less successful people so you could monopolize talk at the table---were actually surrounded by competent people, would he listen? The incompetence comes from the top. The love of chaos also reflects the President's internal mental chaos.

Visual: The picture of Abe, Trump et al around the table last weekend shows Abe speaking with everyone around the table focussed on him--except Trump who apparently is also speaking and gesturing (and ignored.)
mariamsaunders (Toronto, Canada)
Interesting comment. I've also noticed that even though he loves to be the centre of things, he's almost always isolated within a crowd, other than his rallies. I remember seeing Hillary Clinton at the 9/11 remembrance last year - and at the Archbishop's event - surrounded by people, engaging with everyone, whereas trump looked extremely ill at ease - no one wanted to talk to him.
carl bumba (mo-ozarks)
Krugman advises us to 'be afraid, be very afraid'. From my limited grasp of history, inciting public fear does not have a good track record.
While he may know cultural etiquette well, Krugman doesn't seem to know his own countrymen too well. He had no clue about the vast public support for Bernie or for Trump (or in the the UK, for Brexit). Krugman refuses to recognize that the democratic support for Trump over Hillary would be even greater if the other half of voting age Americans, who feel highly disenfranchised and tend to poll "Independent" (American largest political affiliation), actually participated in the election.
Most Americans do not own a passport and have never had valet service at a restaurant, much less an airport. If Trump understood the American public, he would know that the criticism of an unpolished administration is minor, at best, given their desire for breaking up a highly professional political establishment that they feel has benefited others, like Krugman. But once again, he is preaching to his own choir, who are continuously dumb-founded.
Anthony (Texas)
The anti-intellectualism echoes a claim from Katherine Cramer's "The Politics of Resentment"--- a study of attitudes of rural Wisconsin residents. They dismissed her and other U. of Wisconsin (an excellent public university) professors as not really working, just sitting behind a desk all day.
It is one thing to critique the ideas coming from experts (there are plenty of mistakes made). It is another to dismiss intellectual work altogether.
Bravo David (New York City)
I've been saying for years that "divided government does not work". So, as if riding to the rescue, America answered the call and handed Republicans the first almost seamless power position in decades. Admittedly, they lost the popular vote but our founders gave us a "rigged system". Now my fear is that Trump and the GOP will give unified government a bad name, ending any hope for real progress in the years ahead. Elections have consequences and we always get the government we deserve. My question is: what did we do to deserve this?
Ken L (Atlanta)
The display of ignorance is rooted in a set of attitudes: Washington is a swamp to be drained (Trump). The Federal government is a set of institutions that should be destroyed (Bannon). I'm, you know, a really smart guy and I don't need daily briefings (Trump). They came in as outsiders, hence understandably ignorant, but don't think learning the ropes is important. Bulls in china shops don't read signs about breakage. Until the attitudes change, the ignorance will continue.
KR (Long Island, NY)
Trump’s ace-in-a-hole is his colossal ineptitude, corruption on a scale never seen before. Every day amounts to a Constitutional crisis, but no one will stand up. Can you imagine if Hillary Clinton had entered office with any one of these issues, even in miniature? Look at how every tiny turn of phrase was turned into a mountain of controversy, but for this incompetent, derives a snicker and an excuse. It is the Karl Rove, Bush/Cheney strategy compounded.
Mitch Gitman (Seattle)
Yeah, and if it were up to Paul Krugman, instead of the executive branch being run by a bunch of ignoramuses who aren't looking out for the best interests of the American people, the executive branch would be run now by a corps of the "best and brightest" who are out of touch with the economic challenges facing the American people.

We now have a Democratic establishment that is perfectly comfortable pandering to identity politics just so long as they don't have to deliver a unifying economic agenda that improves the lives of all American citizens.
BRothman (NYC)
I am absolutely amazed that Mr. Krugman didn't mention long term and ingrained social misogyny and twenty years of personal attacks on the Democratic candidate as well as Russian interference and last minute alarms of James Comey as reasons for her loss. I am amazed that HC still won the popular vote and by a sizable amount. I can't think of any candidate, including Bernie Sanders, who would have survived let alone won the popular vote despite such long term and concerted attack by the opposition and by society's unspoken social biases.
mawickline (U.S.)
This will be the column that defines the era. Thank you Paul Krugman.

Our new methods of communicating have sped up and enabled the ability of anyone to broadcast their stupidity, so now we have a twit for a president. Twitter is the electronic bumper sticker. Our president uses it to shout and to avoid honest examination and debate of important issues. Bullies always think talking louder means they won.

Hopefully by 2020, the popular vote for a qualified candidate will be strong enough to carry even the electoral college machinations. After that, we must have nonpartisan redistricting that follows natural, sensible boundaries and reflects the vote of the electorate instead of the manipulations of fearful, angry rich white men who don't even recognize that the people did NOT choose them.
Paul Adams (Stony Brook)
The hallmark of any proper expert is doubt, but of course any expression of uncertainty makes an expert less likely to be believed. This is one reason why small-c conservatism itself is often a good political principle: don't put all one's eggs in one basket. But Bannon/Trump are Radical Conservatives: they want sudden massive change, expertise be damned.
Cynthia (San Marcos, TX)
"Republican ignorance has turned what was supposed to be a blitzkrieg against Obamacare into a quagmire, to the great benefit of millions."

While true that the ruling Republicans have nothing with which to replace the ACA, their threats to repeal it have caused uncertainty, which is destabilizing the market just as insurance companies are deciding whether or not to offer ACA plans for the next year and at what rates.

Republican blustering is undermining the health insurance market, which will result in more expensive health insurance for all. How does this benefit millions?
John M (Montana)
So timely!

Was just having an argument with Trump supporters whether guns contribute to my home state's epidemic-level suicide rates.

So everyone has an opinion, but where's their multivariate analysis? Congress has tried to thwart at every turn thorough investigation into gun-related issued.

But why challenge a generations-long belief that having lots of guns around only results in good things.
Ed Bloom (Columbia, SC)
Mr. Paul,

It could be worse. You could called Mr. Ed like I sometimes am. (Ohhh, Wilbur.)

It was often stated we need good businessman in the White House to run the nation like a business. But the businessmen I know about would never make mistakes such as those made by Mr. Donald because they would hire good people to inform them of foreign customs and curtesies. This is even more puzzling when you consider that he has world wide business interests.

I believe he has gotten away with it in the business world because he was too rich, powerful and famous. The people he is dealing with couldn't afford to be offended. Can he continue to get away with it as President? Probably. The nation he leads is, well, too rich, powerful and famous. But as you said, it is a troubling sign that he seems to not even care about getting these things right.
Tom Connor (Chicopee)
I wonder how well the Patriots would have done over the years without reviewing film and studying their opponents. The greatest football intellect of all time, Bill Belichick, is rightly praised for his encyclopedic knowledge of football. Yet he, his star quarterback and his boss are all ardent Trump supporters.

Intellectual rigor is praised when applied to a sport that has no material impact on the lives of Americans, but when it’s applied to the economy, education or climate threats, it’s viewed as an insult to the intelligence of the people.
Billy (Out in the woods.)
Why did he win? Because throughout the campaign the press and the pundits fixated on him in order to mainline profits. The more outrageous his behavior was, the greater the fixation (and the profits).

Now the press and the pundits lecture on how ignorant the administration is along with the voters that put them there. All the while the the media corporations continue to rake it in.

And you wonder where the cynicism comes from? Look in the mirror.

This whole thing is nothing more than a massive corporate sell out and the never ending fear mongering is only to perpetuate your own revenue stream.
Hudson Valley Girl (Rockland County, NY)
Two points:
1. We're surprised that Trump disparages the Central Intelligence Agency? They've got to get rid of that middle word. It plays so badly on reality TV. What to call it? Central Ignorance Agency? That's not Orwellian enough. Ideas?

2. Good to connect the ignorance epidemic to the Republicans in general For eight years GOP leaders have been denying science, negating history, distorting reality, ignoring facts. Trump is an extension of this mindset--on steroids. The more this or any story for that matter isn't about Trump the better off we are. He thrives on publicity, even bad publicity. Can we start with media not running his picture every 10 seconds? People often just read photos with captions. This piece would have been much stronger with a shot of McConnell or Ryan with a negative caption. Or um a picture of Putin, the master of fake news and ignorance.
P Taco (Iowa)
I doubt that Republican, or any political ignorance, will benefit millions in the long run.

Our survival depends upon knowledge and competent counsel. But our so-called leaders are running amok in pursuit of ideological zealotry and genuine stupidity.

How big must our crises become? The Atlantic Ocean lapping the gilded columns of Trump Tower and Mar-A-Lago? Human-influenced oceanic and atmospheric currents steering unprecedented (based on our short history) weather systems over the Polar caps or the Oroville Dam? Maybe we can build a wall and get our neighbors to pay for it?

There's more than just infirmity that seems to permeate our so-called political system.

Our so-called leaders seem to be delusional or lack the intelligence to discern whether it's raining or if the sun is shining. I'm not very hopeful even if our Constitution has a 25th Amendment.
mshea29120 (Boston, MA)
I think his supporters' tolerance for this guy's crude vision of the world is coming from their own idea of the way political power is exercised - particularly in the most troubled parts of the world.

In the Middle East, in the turbulent countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa, the people at the center of their country's turmoil are bull-headed individuals who use physical violence and intimidation to maintain their dominance. In short, these guys (overwhelmingly guys) are destructive jerks, wrecking their societies and squirting their population into more attractive parts of the world.

Having run out of patience with the measured diplomatic actions the U.S. has taken to deal with these international problems, a large number of voters have now offered someone who looks, talks and feels like one of the leaders of these problem countries. We're presenting our own destructive jerk to wade into the fracas and come up with the prize. He's got the biggest army, the strongest currency and even meaner, Sun Tsu primed business entities and he's gonna kick the hell out of everybody and win the day. Just like the movies. Just like the comic books and the television shows and the vigilante beach novels.......

Only those popular entertainments never delve into what it looks like after the battle. Maybe just a little, just to squeeze a little sentimental tear and put a human interest, family-values kind of glow on all that exciting action. But too much is kinda boring.
Joseph Thomas (Reston, VA)
I agree with your statement that this lack of competence extends to the Republicans in Congress. The obvious subject is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

For six years, the Republicans have been arguing that this law is a job killer and that it needed to be repealed as soon as possible. For six years, they ranted and raved and blamed it for all sorts of mischief. And, for six years, they failed to develop an alternative that would allow tens of millions of Americans to keep their insurance coverage.

Their are many other examples. The attempt to water down the Ethics Office. The silencing of Elizabeth Warren. The approval of obviously unqualified individuals to Cabinet positions.

I used to believe that the Republicans were pandering to the anti-intellectualism of a certain portion of the population. Now I realize that what's really happening is that they themselves are incompetent and are only appealing to their own kind.
Sunitha (Los Gatos, CA)
I am reminded of a headline I saw on nytimes.com yesterday, 'Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down'. I believe that this headline doesn't apply to just the National Security Council, but to all of Government. It is shocking to see how the voices of reason - be it the media, experts in various fields, even the opposition party, are treated like the non-competent minorities who were taking this country on a path of danger and turmoil. It is rather painful to see anyone who raised their voice against autocracy being b bullied and abused by the people in charge. I already feel as if we are in a autocracy. I am afraid. Very afraid. But didn't the voters get a taste of the impending turmoil, if they elected Trump to power, even before the elections? Does the results of the election (even if he won by a mere technicality) show that the electorate now believe in such leadership? Beats me.
David Paquette (Cerritos, CA)
The very real situation that Mr. Krugman describes mirrors a strong trend of the public to obtain all information from social media, Twitter and Facebook. This is terrifying. Anyone who wants to compete had better find a way to condense a winning plan into 144 characters, or else you lose to a near majority of the electorate. People would complain bitterly and sue for massive awards if their physicians treated them with information limited to 144 characters or if your car failed because the mechanic used a Tweet for instructions. Yet we elected a President of the US on little more than Tweets and his supporters continue to rave at his success based on the same limited depth of information.
Joan (California)
They never should have broken the congressional $99K pay limit in the 1980's. Obviously it had to go higher eventually, but boosting the pay seems to have attracted the folks who are only in it for the money. They also never should have created term limits based on a special law. There already was one in place. It's call an election. Consequently, we have congress members from some states who can earn more in two years than they might make in five to ten back home. It takes more than one or two terms in the House to get onto important committees. The fact that an apparent group of contentious short timers who don't understand team work have seats in congress might help us to understand why the folks back home aren't alarmed by malevolence tempered by incompetence and cheerfully would vote it in rather than one of those slick big city people. Oh right! He is one of those slick city people, which proves your point. :-)
Sabrina (San Francisco)
I completely agree that anti-intellectualism is its own form of bigotry. Moreover, the word "elite" has pretty much lost all meaning when uttered by the professional right-wing pot-stirrers. Anyone with a college degree who lives in a city is "elite", by their reckoning. And that's really not OK, especially when one considers that education is essential to the future fortunes of the Trump base. If education is maligned in a misguided attempt to foster tribalism, then the people doing the maligning are setting up the country to allow scapegoating others for their misfortunes. Far easier to blame someone else for their problems then to take a hard look in the mirror. Trump is exploiting them. They don't seem to realize how badly they have miscalculated, as long as the POTUS signals he's "one of them" by eschewing facts in favor of assertions, or being a tough guy who cares nothing for diplomacy.
Jacques Triplett (Cannes, France)
It does indeed seem that too great a number of Americans are comfortable with and less threatened by mediocrity. Witness John Kerry who speaks French fluently. Early in his campaign it became evident to him and his advisors that such an asset needed to be hidden from the public, or, at the very least, remain unemphasized. Karl Rove successfully used quick, short sound bites built on a foundation of fear and slur aimed at an electorate too tired at the end of their working day to take the time to delve deeply into issues by lending their eye or ear to responsible written or televised journalism. The contemptuous disdain for facts, ethics and protocol of this reality show (shamefully buttressed and defended by McConnell and Ryan) - otherwise known as the current Administration - should come as no surprise. The months leading up to the election were nothing more than a frightening preview of coming attractions. We the people should be very afraid. Disaster looms.
onhold (idaho falls, id)
The readers of Dr. Krugman's op-eds, as well as Dr. Krugman himself, provide an excellent analysis of both the mess that we're now in and how we got here. I have to pose a question, since I don't know the answer already: How do we stop (or at least minimize the damage from) this slow-motion train wreck in the shortest, most direct fashion? Amongst all the readers, what are the pressure points in the administration and legislative branches that we can use to change the direction of this doomsday machine of a government we've watched being created over the last 30-plus years? Is it most effective to camp on our representative's door steps and protest loudly? Bury them in email, actual letters and phone calls? Use social media? All of the above? I'm pretty sure that the air-castle-bubble-enclosed administration can't be reached, but apparently can occasionally be shamed. How do we, the populace of this country, take back our government, other than waiting for the next election cycle? If there are no pressure points, are we left with using sheer mass to make a change in our course?
Matt (NYC)
"Trivial? Well, it would be if it were an isolated instance. But it isn’t."

This is the point Trump apologists purposefully avoid. Almost any mistake, whether as POTUS or as a private citizen, can be explained away or forgiven. We all say things we regret. No one is totally without their private biases. Sometimes we say stupid, ignorant or insulting things. Being elevated to a position of power does not immunize anyone to human fallibility.

But with Trump we are not discussing isolated instances of ignorance or belligerence. During his 18 month campaign and his fledgling administration, not a week has gone by without his surrogates asking that the most powerful man on the planet to be given more and more slack. I routinely see fans of football teams hold their coaches more accountable than this President. How many offenses are we to absorb before we acknowledge Trump is offensive? How many exaggerations, fabrications, "alternative facts" and lies are we to overlook before we acknowledge that Trump is untruthful? How many ways must Trump unapologetically use his office to enrich himself or his family before we acknowledge his is unethical? How many times must Trump demonstrate his near total lack of understanding of even basic legal processes or military matters before we acknowledge he is, in fact, incompetent?
Chad (Florida)
There you have the reason for nearly all of modern American society's problems Ignorance and its ugly child, Anti-intellectualism, the defense of ignorance.
The dumbing down of America has been achieved and it worked well to bring the Right Wing to dominance.
Anti-intellectualism puts up its fists in defense of ignorance whenever it is challenged.
The big flaw in Democracy is that it also empowers the ignorant, the uninformed and the incompetent. But to exclude anyone really changes the meaning of Democracy.
In these times, the best recourse is Intelligent Resistance, quite literally. Ignorance has to be defeated with cleverness, subtle education and persistence. Silence in the face of ignorance just won't do.
David Baumgarten (Portland, OR)
It is inevitable that the Trump administration will be incompetent and ignorant. Ignorance and incompetence have been the defining characteristics of Mr. Trump throughout his life.

The numerous bankruptcies, business failures, and squandering of his father's inheritance attest to Trump's incompetence. That he said during the campaign that judges sign laws, murder rates are soaring, that a trade deficit means America is "losing" with that trading partner, or that he might consider the debt of the United States as negotiable, like he considered debt of his businesses (apparently unaware that a default of US debt would create an immediate global financial crisis), attests to his ignorance.

The past is prologue.
J. Barrett (North Providence, RI)
I have not been unclear, since before the election, what this president represented. And yet, I have only a high school education. I'm not a member of the intellectual elite. On the other hand, my mother didn't produce any idiots so, yeah, I saw the handwriting on the wall, and can't understand why all those Trump supporters didn't.

The incompetence is so glaring in this administration, we are becoming a laughing stock. This is not an internal phenomenon; this is going on all over the world. The Alternative Right is surging everywhere and democracy is on the decline. France, Germany, the UK....

The angst of the lower classes is understandable. Corporations have ruled roughshod over our lives for a few decades now, and we're tired of it. But the truth of the matter is, there is no political party out there standing up for the 99%. We had -still have- no political party in government representing the average citizen/tax payer. Unless and until the democrats start focusing their attention on us, we see only two republican parties. And it doesn't matter which of them we elect. They don't care about us except on election day.

Maybe we do need a third party. Or maybe the democrats need to remember what their core mission is: the support and advancement of the working class.
O'Brien (NorCal)
It is curious where intellectualism is shunned and where it is honored. My guess is that except for devout Christian Scientists, when a medical doctor says that based on the most current evidence, you (or your loved one) are suffering from X, the GOP patient will more than likely follow the doctor's advice. That means taking medication that might make you sicker in the short run (in the case of cancer). So, in that instance at least, being smart is being strong. I guess being hypocritical is a willful choice that the the GOP in political power uses to its advantage. Even (especially) medical doctors do it--see Tom Price Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Daedalus (Rochester, NY)
If Mr. Trump delights in ignorance he has about 50 years of precedent in US education and politics. The elevation of knowing nothing to a virtue has been happening since at least the 60's and possibly earlier. The current wish for college for all (actually lifetime debt for all) relies on the reduction of learning to showing up with a pulse and a checkbook. Knowledge is optional.
OzarkOrc (Rogers, Arkansas)
The problem remains that this Republican preference for ignorance and disdain for Governance and the rule of law extends to multiple Federal agencies (like the Border Patrol and FBI Management?) that have been captured/infiltrated by members of their base electorate.

And Congress. (see "Freedom Caucasus")

The rest of us have to live in this swamp they have created, Republicans greatest act of malfeasance is their failure to convey to their base voters just how dependent they (and their local economic ecosystems) are on Federal transfer payments.

When I try and explain these realities, it is dismissed as the alternative reality of a pointy headed liberal intellectual. While I am serving them at the local soup kitchen.
Sky (CO)
I believe the GOP is enjoying the incompetency as they systematically destroy our government and our democracy. It has been their intent since they lost the Civil War, and certainly since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Remember "drown government in the bathtub?" That's what they are gleefully doing, while planning detention camps, the end to literacy, and the creation of a vast underclass (boot out the immigrants who do the menial work now; then use the illiterate white people to clean the bathrooms and pick the vegetables). We are poised to become the most oppressed and oppressive nation in the world, possibly in a matter of months. The malevolence is clear in the sociopaths who make up the GOP at this point. The incompetence is a cover for the real goal. We should be very afraid, very vigilant, and willing to act daily.
JLR (Victoria, BC)
The Trump voters will only wake up when their incomes and health care are being negatively impacted by the lies, deceit and fraud that is the marrow of Trump's election promises. It's most encouraging to see Republican town hall meetings where their representatives are being attacked for trying to replace Obamacare with no alternative health care plan.
Trump is the quintessential Ugly American. His Presidency is viewed all around the world as a shameful national embarrassment. Perhaps the United States needed this disaster to finally wake up to the reality that giving to the rich does not benefit those less fortunate.
AH (OK)
Might makes right, ignorance is strength, nepotism is virtuous, etc. These are old enemies, best exemplified by the ancien regimists now in charge. What's amazing is not that these creeps are now in charge, but that the peasants put them there.
Billybob (MA)
Mentally unstable, super sensitive, bloated ego, bullyism, ignorance, arrogance, narcissism, worships loyalty above competence, vengeance as a hobby, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism and disdain for women in general. This is the portrait of an American President - because it is a mirror reflection of America itself. It's a horror show from a badly scripted, badly acted movie.
Persist. Resist. Impeach.
Yelof (ILM VT)
My mother would always say, "be careful what you wish for". I think we Democrats need to back off for a while, rebuild our own house and let Swampy give the people we forgot to include in our campaign what they want. Keeping our fingers crossed that we can "Make America Great Again" after four years of Swampy.
karen (bay area)
dems need to start winning in the states. Period. If more states were led by dems-- IE NY and CA-- our country would be in far better shape. NO waiting to win the presidency in 4 more years. Holding that single office didn't work out so great for Obama and to be honest, for the nation.
John (Boston)
It's the Wizard of Oz... Our president is the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion, all rolled into one - no brains, no heart, and no courage. His administration is the band of flying monkeys. And his chief strategist is the phony wizard behind the curtain. That movie scared the bejesus out of me as a kid. This is so much scarier. Too bad we can't click our heels three times and wish our way out of this.
Dave....Just Dave (Somewhere in Florida)
Stripped down to its simplest terms, when one is devoid of facts, truths or realities, that's "ignorance." When one doesn't care, that's "stupidity."
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Ks)
Ignorant stupidity.
Gipper (Ithaca, NY)
The Unqualified Appointment Index or UNAI (in honor of the Central American sloth)

One’s UNAI score = (Ideology + Money) / (Competence + Integrity)

The highest possible score for each variable of 10 = best ever, huge.
The lowest possible of 1 = disastrous, sad.

A White House of perfect 10s!
Ron (Ontario)
There was an article, I believe in the NY Times, citing a former operations manager in the Trump Organization who to Paraphrase said "We couldn't let Donald do anything on the operations side, any actual project management, he would just mess everything up".

Guess he was right. Expect more of the same until Donald figures out that the job is beyond him and he throws in the towel.

Let us hope sooner than later.
Blue Moon (Where Nenes Fly)
Trump decimated the Republican field in the primaries. The Democrats should have been very afraid in the general election. I remember watching one of the debates where Clinton made astute comments, then Trump zinged her with a juvenile taunting one-liner at the end. I thought to myself, come on Hillary, don't let this go. Give a good retort. And then she did not, and the debate just went on. That really worried me. Did she really think she should just let that go? Was she unhealthy and didn't want to over-exert herself on national TV? And then the 9/11 memorial fainting episode. That got me worried about her health. I feared what others thought, and for the general election.

The Democrats must fight on a level playing field, fight fire with fire. It's great that they have held the Presidency for 16 of the last 24 years, but they have to be able to adapt to new strategies from their opponents. They just did not evolve quickly enough to counter what unfolded during the general election. They have the best ideas, but ideas will not sell themselves. They have to get down in the mud and wrestle, fight harder, not succumb to complacency, arrogance, and superciliousness. "When they go low, you go high," unfortunately, didn't work for them in the election. Also, as a sports metaphor, their bench does not seem to be deep enough. Who will take on the Republicans now?

These Republicans are fools, but they are cunning fools. Please, get it together, Democrats!
gene (Florida)
The Republicans will not turn their backs on Trump until the taxes for the people who own them are cut.
They may wait until Social Security is given to Wall Street to play with also but the Corporate rate will be at 15% then they will move to get rid of him. They hate him just as much as the dems do. Funny thing is 90% of the Democrats in Congress will vote for the tax cuts also.
mary (Phoenix)
And the Republicans in Congress, out of fear of upsetting the Trump base, allow the ignorance to go unchecked.
mike mcgloin (bg, ky)
what happened: 90 million USA citizens weren't registered to vote, 55% of registered voters voted, 46.6%(25.6%) voted for Rump spelt with a T, 47.8%(26.3%) voted for Clinton, 1.0% voted for Johnson, 0.6% voted for Stein, and 0.7% voted for other. Numbers in () are of total of registered voters. Sooo what happened is that Democrats and a lot of independence didn't vote and this is what you get.
KL (Matthews, NC)
Every new administration goes thru growing pains. But the current president's administration looks like the inmates are running the insanely insane asylum.

Is there no one in this current administration that checks facts or even spell checks?

Basic information PAID for by US citizens has disappeared from government websites. For instance, the "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act"has disappeared from the Department of Education website. People looking for this information are told to find it on alternative websites. This is shameful!

Does not this current administration and president realize that he is working for us?
Living in liberal la la land (Tiburon, CA)
Krugman needs to stick his head back into the spreadsheets of the dark science.

I don't see the doom and gloom he predicted. The value of my stock portfolio is up, way up.
Lord Bromwell (<br/>)
The rise of our current state of anti-intellectualism originated with Reagan, skipped Bush41 and Clinton42 then roared back with W43. After the last 8 years of a thoughtful, intellectually curious commander-in-chief, the seeds of ignorance, nurtured by racism, were ready to be harvested with DT45.

The appointment of Betsy Devos is 45's embrace of this strategy, to accelerate this trend, thereby making the barrage of shiny objects ever more effective to distracting and thereby manipulating this ripe, bumper crop of ignorant hoi polloi.

#sad
MPB (NJ)
We have always had an anti-intellectual faction in the United States. It has grown and the dumbing down of America has reached its fruition in the Trump voter and Trump administration.

Ignorance is now on par and as valid as knowledge.

Betsy Davos is the prism through which this acceptable ignorance can be viewed daily
JohnW (Berkeley)
Do not underestimate Donald. He may be ignorant but he is not an idiot. We have a serious fight on our hands. As for his economic advisors I've confidence in what you see and report.
Dick Gaffney (New York)
We are seeing the utter ignorance of governing of Ayn Rand. She knew all about the greed of the takers and the supreme ability of the makers to create the world. Paul Ryan drank the heady potion of Randianism. We see now, with health care, he only knows what Rand taught him---beware the takers of health care. He may learn in the hard knocks of reality that these takers are voters.
marty (DC)
Over the past 25 years, the Republicans have cultivated "ignorance" as an identity group, one that believes it is oppressed. As Mr. Krugman implies, this group is proud of its "identity" and rallies around its leaders. Before dismissing this as outlandish, please consider this "Movement of the 'Ignorant'" -- organized around the internet, Fox News, and the "Alt-White" media -- as it compares to the organzing efforts of other 'identity groups'.
Activist Bill (Mount Vernon, NY)
Ignorance is just what the Democrats want for the people, to keep the people divided and oppressed. Then they are easily conquered.
DW (In the shadow of Monticello)
Ignorance is not only strength, it is a long time coming. Fox News has been diligently feeding falsehoods for 20+ years, and their audience has been mesmerized into their 'truth'. But they had recent support from the "mainstream" media. How easy it was to rake in the cash from advertisers who 'loved' the expanded audiences for news 'shows' when they focused on The Donald, showed split screen of his venues for hours while waiting excitedly for him to pitch his unrealistic, bigotry-tinged promises to thousands in the arena - and to millions more via these 'serious' shows (certainly not news 'programs'). Shills for The Donald were lined up in the green rooms just waiting to add their memorized talking points to the 'he said, she said' style of low-cost programming. And it was not 'he said, she said' at all. It was 'he said, she did', followed by millions in the mainstream home audiences hearing the 'lock her up' chants. Hillary Clinton never had a chance, and now we may not either.
toomanycrayons (today)
"And Mr. Trump’s imploding job approval might help slow the march to autocracy."

On the other hand, autocracy might be a species default and liberal democracy simply a Humanist, secularist fantasy?
Michael Radowitz (Newburgh, NY)
In other words, Republicans are ignorant.

And ignorance is what ignorance does.

Let the so-called religious ones in that group judge me by the same measure as I judge them. That would be interesting...
Earl (Cary, NC)
Regarding Mr. Abe's name, Trump could have contacted a protocol officer in the State Department to get it right. Or he could have simply consulted Wikipedia. Another option he had was to call Frederick Douglass and ask him.
rebecca1048 (Iowa)
Paul, darn it, don't you realize, guys like mine, who have have made a living with their hands, crawling around in crawl spaces at the age of 50 are fed up. They could care less how one might address a dignitary from another country. They are flat out sick and tired of paying for retirement plans they cannot afford for themselves -- and not one, their wife piles on for her share too!
Rich from SOP (Staten Island)
Of course Donald Trump was a terrible GOP nominee and is or will be a terrible President - but so too was Hillary Clinton for the DEMs - the congenital liar, ultra progressive, obtuse (see cold-miner story, "deplorables", etc), Foundation (yes, they do good) personal aggrandizement of $100 million plus, sense of entitlement, lust for glory + power + esteem ... and so a personal dilemma, at least mine, and so I wrote-in Evan McMullin (Gov. John Kasich not in play) and hoped for the extreme long-shot the selection of President went per the Constitution / amendment, to the House of Reps. Krugman - ever the liberal DEM, bash the conservatives and GOP in general - got some things correct and some wrong, e.g. Govt statistics & reports document tax cuts DO usually work, and the Iran agreement does NOT make sense, etc. It's sad & dangerous "the Donald" is President, and thankful the "hill-billy" team of Hillary & Bill are not in the White House.
g.i. (l.a.)
There is a collective ignorance for sure in the White House. As well as an arrogance and superiority that they are smarter than the average John Doe. But their worst attribute is their disdain and contempt for people not like them. Whoever raised them did a horrible job. There is not a shred of humanity among them. They are haters. Myopic misanthropes. They are the swamp.
P Palmer (America)
No, Paul.

Ignorance is just that: Ignorance.

It is not unusual not to 'have all the answers'. No man does.

But cloaking his every statement as a "fact" and embroidering it with euphemisms and platitudes to cover up his lack of knowledge (rather than learn the true facts of a matter) is rank hypocrisy.
Babs (Richmond)
It has been reported--in the NYT and elsewhere--that Priebus is in over his head. Sadly, it has become apparent that the entire administration is in over its head.

Unfortunately, the mistakes, missteps, and sheer, unabashed, bold-faced lies that roll out of the unending clown car of chaos that is the White House make it almost impossible to give each indiscretion the amount of scrutiny and coverage it deserves.
timesrgood10 (United States)
Liberals still have not gotten the message(s) of the 2016 election and may be doomed to eight years in the wilderness (maybe longer), as the GOP was.

For a party that presents itself as inclusive and compassionate, why is there an endless spew of hate, anger, bitterness and superiority? Has hate-writing become just another job?
LeoK (San Dimas, CA)
Kindly tell us what exactly in this article is hateful and why.

Krugman is just calling a spade a spade!
FT (San Francisco)
Truth and competence are not signs of superiority. They are signs that some people are ethically capable of making informed decision.

I sincerely doubt any Trump voter that says stupidity is good actually sees a doctor with a degree from TrumpU. Do Trump voters look for healers when they are sick? Do Trump voters go see a priest for a medical advice directly from god?

I'm sure there are a few that do, but that doesn't make stupidity a good thing.

Did your doctor graduate from Trump University? Would you see a doctor if you knew he graduated from TrumpU? If you answer is "no", then you don't get it.
Nick C (Montana)
If you think you are feeling hate, anger, bitterness, and superiority from liberals, now you have a taste of what your fellow Americans who are not white feel and have felt for most our country's history.
Mungu (Kansas City)
"Bigotry wasn’t the only dark force at work in the election; so was anti-intellectualism, hostility toward “elites” who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought." Well written Mr. Krugman. At the end of the day, the attacks that were launched against America's intellectuals and elites in the run-up to the election would recede for one good reason: Those who voted for Donald Trump, out of sheer bigotry, would see the colossal error that such a trait amounts to.
And when that happens, would you, Mr. Krugman, kindly write another beautiful column—like you did in "The Return of Depression Economics"— titled "The Return of American Intellectuals on the Political Scene"? I guess that would be a good read.
Howard Bass (Arlington, Virginia)
With all due respect, Professor, it seems that Abe is a surname, not a first name. So it follows that Mr. Abe, or Prime Minister Abe, is the correct way to address the gentleman. Possibly one of the few things the so-called President has gotten right.
Black Cat (California)
Please read Mr. Krugman's article more carefully. DT referred to Mr. Abe as Prime Minister Shinzo.
Jimh (Vero Beach)
You missed Krugman's point. Trump addressed the Japanese PM as Prime Minister "Shinzo", using Mr. Abe's first name, not his surname "Abe."
Susan H (SC)
But he didn't address him as prime Minister Abe, he called him prime Minister Shinzo! That is the whole point of the first paragraph.
chogan (Virginia)
If you aren't worried enough about economic issues, realize that two seats are open on the Fed's board of governors, and Janet Yellen's term is up on 2/3/2018. There's no better way to screw up the country than to crash the banking system.
commenter (RI)
Why is it always republicans? Remember Jerry Bremer, viceroy of Iraq, who fired the army and so created a insurgency which ruined the country? Ignorance by a republican president and a vice president with an agenda caused that. A whole country which is still in ruins. How many lives were lost accomplishing that. Yes, we did 'get him'. Remember also that he (Saddam) had nothing to do with 9/11.

Ignorance is a wonderful thing.
Stan Continople (Brooklyn)
This is a country that has a deep disdain for elites, so what do the Democrats do, but run a candidate absolutely marinated in elitism. The "rubes" could smell it a mile away and so, we ended up with Trump. There were other alternatives - remember? No, that would spoil the narrative.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
And Democrats ran the queen of globalism. And globalism is dead. Everywhere.
Barry Frauman (Chicago)
How nice that the morons of this country finally have a president of their own.
JSK (Crozet)
"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

Mr. Krugman, you've been using this line for years, even before the current president: http://www.post-gazette.com/Op-Ed/2010/10/30/Paul-Krugman-This-Halloween... . And you have argued on both sides: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/opinion/fearing-fear-itself.html .

I understand the value of fear in the political arena. It has been used for millennia, long before Pogo. I do not doubt that there is much to be afraid of with this president, but it is exhausting and arguably mind-numbing as incessant bipartisan chant.

Do all arguments have to rely on their own versions of mushroom clouds? Perhaps that is the only way the public's attention can be focused. Does that help to strengthen the intellectual value of your arguments? Maybe not.

Do not misunderstand. I dislike this president more than any other that I can recall during my 50 years of voting. I do fear his ignorance. Since the use of fear will be bipartisan sport going far into the future, I hope we can find something else to say along with it.

There are signs of serious resistance, particularly with respect to health care and the public's views of the ACA, abortion rights, and Planned Parenthood. I suspect other concerns will gain strength, not the least of which are his business conflicts of interest with respect to his presidential role.

I just wonder about the value of one more line of "be afraid, be very afraid."
Tony (New York)
Every time Krugman criticizes President Trump, I am forced to write President Hillary. Then I know why we have President Trump.

Krugman's 18 month rant against Donald Trump proved that ignorance is NOT strength. The ignorance of Krugman and his ilk to what the voters in flyover country were thinking was not Krugman's strength, but his undoing. The ignorance of the Democratic pollsters and their assurances that Hillary was a lock to win the presidency was not strength, but was their undoing. The ignorance of people to what people outside of their bubble are thinking and saying is not strength, but simple ignorance.
sftechwriter (Mountain View, CA)
Of major concern early this morning was a CNN political analyst, David Gregory, who felt the need to compliment the Trump administration for showing "restraint" with respect to the missile test by the North Koreans. Really? You're using the word "restraint" and "Trump" in the same sentence? And then there was a bevy of CNN commentators explaining what Trump and Team must be thinking by constantly talking about voter fraud. Uh, folks, did it ever occur to you that you could simply use the word "lying"? Until news organizations stop pretending that all of this is normal and honorable, the media is simply acting as a public relations arm.
barry (puget's sound)
No shortage of people beating up on ill informed voters here. Those making comment might want to inform themselves. "physician heal thyself". The voters, by a considerable margin voted for, wait for this, Hillary.
Julie (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio)
The Trump administration needs professional help -- amateur hour is over. The reckless incompetence demonstrated by the White House is a threat to our national security period. It doesn't matter who you voted for -- no one could have imagined this debacle.
Hair Bear (Norman OK)
And Paul did not even mention the Secretary of Energy who didn't realize his stewardship of the nations nuclear weapons until being briefed as to exactly what the DoE does.
DTB (Greensboro, NC)
Anti-intellectualism? In 2017 can we apply that anymore? Where are the nuanced arguments and critical thinking of the intellectual? What people are rebelling against on the left and right isn't intellectualism but name calling and self congratulation. Mr. Krugman is an economist who seldom writes about the economy. There is a world which exists outside of politics and partisanship. An intellectual would know that.
LiberalTexan (Fort Worth, Texas)
If ignorance is bliss, Trump and those around him must be in a truly enviable place.
rebecca1048 (Iowa)
And my all time favorite --- it wouldn't be enough for the taxpayer to provide one of these excellent jobs per household, oh hell no, we'd have Hillary right in there after her lot. And, Republicans, why am I paying retirement plans for both Mitch and Elaine? When I cannot afford one of my own? The State Representative from my area puts his wife on the payroll? No end, Paul. No one is home to watch the kids -- that's where I spent the last 18 yrs., after paying to put our daughter through college. The youngest will start school in two years. I hope you have a job waiting for me!
JohnK (Durham)
Trump never articulated much of anything during his campaign. Obamacare was a disaster, the Iran deal was a disaster, NAFTA was a disaster, Syria was a disaster, the economy was a disaster. Trump was going to fix all of these disasters. But labeling something isn't a coherent critique and doesn't lead toward any positive improvement. There are Republican-friendly approaches to our problems (I'm not endorsing them), but you don't get to those ideas without some careful thought. Trump won the election by posing as a plain-spoken man of action. But someone who acts without thinking is not going to be a success in the White House.
Harley Leiber (233 SE 22nd Ave Portland,OR)
I wake up every morning and wonder what mischief Tweety Bird has been up to. He is three hours ahead of us and that gives him ample time to rattle the west coast with his special brand of ignorant blather, baseless claims, lies, combined with shallow and ignorant pronouncements. I read the NYT, Washington Post and check CNN. It's like peering out from a foxhole. I flip over to my emails ( brother in NYC, nieces and nephews west and east coast, son in LA...) we have it all covered and they report in any suspicious activity.

Then I wait for the inevitable and he never let's me down. It is only going to get worse. Trump is immune to criticism, has no respect for the office he holds, is thin skinned and impulsive and averse to solid, educated, skilled and experienced guidance and input. So, yes I am afraid...very very afraid.
R (Mill Valley)
What resonates with Trumps so called base is exactly what they voted for: ignorance, bigotry, and fear, which is why in their eyes everything is just going along fine in the new American era of Trumpism.
BJL (central Massachusetts)
Too stupid to be president, and too vain to hire people he can learn from. It's almost inconceivable that we went from the Obamas to this.
CLA (Windsor, CT)
You read my mind. "If they’re so dumb, how come they won?" Part of the answer is disdain for experts. Another part is that his opponent's incompetent advisors gave their email passwords to the Russians. Yet another part is you have been misunderestimating Trump for many months. It began when he announced his candidacy and spoke of Mexican rapists, etc. “What ignorance to begin a campaign by insulting a major voting bloc,” the NY Times said. It was incompetent journalism to report that as some off-the-cuff remark. He had been planning to run for president for decades. I suspect it was a well-researched, focus-group-tested remark that had exactly the effect he intended. You have continued to make the same mistake right up to and including the Muslim ban. I personally disagree with the Mexican comments and the Muslim ban. But, I would wager that the Muslim ban is playing out as intended. He disrupted some refugees lives for a few days and will get credit for being tough on Muslim terrorists for years.
Mark Schlemmer (Portland, Ore.)
In the words of one famous school principal "Fat, Drunk (on Power), and Stupid is no way to go through life." It does seem to be Trump's life plan however.
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
Clinton lost because of Clinton. Trump is bad. He's "bigley" bad but the DNC will never learn if it continues to hear it had nothing to do with the loss. It's willful blindness not only helped Trump win but it destroyed the under ticket. As a result we have a Republican Congress!

By the way, is it ok for a Paul Kirgman to go after the media? Just checking.
Robert Pohlman (Alton Illinois)
Issac Asimov said it best about US culture..."There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
-Issac Asimov
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
When Asimov said that, you could argue that the intellectual base of America was at its zenith. Intellectuals today run only in a narrow band of politically correct ideals.
hen3ry (New York)
Yes, but he was an immigrant. Trump supporters could argue that he didn't really know America. I always liked H. L. Mencken's bit about not going broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. He was right.
Jim Newman (Bayfield, CO)
Mr. Krugman, I enjoy every insightful article you write. However, let's quit perpetuating the myth that Trump won the election. Let's be accurate in the future that when we refer to the election of 2016, we stipulate that Trump won the presidency, but lost the election. Accuracy is important.
Jon (Ohio)
I wonder how much computers and Google have affected people's attitudes toward experts. Before there was much information that was hard to know unless you talked to an "expert" or did a tremendous amount of research yourself. Now we can just Google. Anyone can do it.

Another point is that Trump said he loves the uneducated. So anti-intellectualism is what he's all about. Enter his education secretary and her own lack of expertise.

After writing this I feel sorry for all of us.
AB (Maryland)
Progress in America has always been stymied by white American fear. And that fear has brought us to this point.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
Well, and black America's laziness?

Obviously you don't get the point.
eyein the sky (Winston-Salem)
The republicans who support DJT have believed that they can talk him through the executive actions that will bring about cultural changes for which they lust. It appears to them now that it is becoming more difficult than they imagined. It is like talking an apprentice car mechanic through a heart or brain operation.
James (Brooklyn)
I wonder how many Americans realize that there is already direct evidence that Trump colluded with Russia throughout the 2016 campaign?

The Kremlin offered the release of Hillary Clinton's emails via Wiki leaks if Trump agreed to soften the U.S. policy on Russian policy regarding Ukraine - if he were to be elected. And Trump agreed! That sure explains his bizarre defense of Putin, and the criticism of NATO.

How much longer do we have to wait before Trump is indicted, arrested, and prosecuted? He should be in jail! Wake up America!
rowoldy (Seattle)
Ironically, the DT administration may, through malfeasance, convince many people that " Big Government " is worthless and that Reagan was correct to denigrate everything Federal!

This Op- Ed is one of Krugman's best, offering a complete concise summary of every corner of mismanagement. Punctuating the comments with the need to "be very afraid" is right on the mark!
Veritas 128 (Wall, NJ)
Krugman-san, seems you are ignorant of Japanese custom. Japanese are addressed by their last names and generally with the suffix “-san". Young Japanese may select a U.S nickname. If you become familiar, then you may use their first name. Next, it neither a travel nor a Muslim ban. It was a temporary pause to review our procedures that only affected 7% of Muslims. Stop fanning flames. You Question the executive order, yet constitutional scholars criticized the Ninth Circuit for legislating from the bench. You have no proof about Bannon so you incite the left by saying what he “appears” to be doing with Russia. DeVos canlearn on the job. She was selected for her past successes in another proven approach to education. Clinton and Obama had a lot to learn on the job. Trump has accomplished more in 3 weeks than any prior president. You’re complaining that he hasn’t implemented infrastructure yet. But your own ignorance prevents you from understanding that congress must enact such legislation and it should be properly planned. It is incendiary to call Trump “Tweeter in Chief”. It is fake news from so-called pundits like you that forces him to by-pass you with Twitter. The GOP isn’t panicking over healthcare. They are moving carefully to avoid another disaster, a major favor for the Dems and the country. I could go on to prove how easy it is to make someone look ignorant like you did. Nice prediction on 11/9/17 of a major plunge in the world stock markets.
C.C. Kegel,Ph.D. (Planet Earth)
We have neglected our schools, and widespread ignorance is the result.
Kathy (Minneapolis)
Spelling a person's name correctly or referring to them in the correct manner are signs that "the other" matters. Why is everyone so shocked at the transgressions of Trump as he interacts with leaders of the world? He already told us he is going to put America first. He is simply carrying out his mission in the only manner he knows, as a supremely narcissistic person.
Independent (the South)
Another reason Trump won was because Hillary's negatives were artificially high after years of misinformation by Republicans and the right-wing media.
liberalvoice (New York, NY)
As events require you to return to this theme, please consider adjusting your phrasing to reach some of those deluded by Mr. Trump during the election. The audience for sneering at "pointy headed intellectuals" will be quite happy about "an intellectual vacuum at the top."

How about "a brains vacuum at the top" or "the Trump (administration) brains deficit"?
Country Squiress (Hudson Valley)
"On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." H. L. Menken, July 26, 1920.

That day has arrived.
Tom (France)
What can one expect from such an un-professional and un-statesmen like people such as Mr Trump and his cronies?
KO (Vancouver, Canada)
Sadly, when I think of Trump I turn to that Seinfeld buffoon he parallels: George Costanza. This is unfortunately not funny, because the joke's on all of us.
Bill Lance (Ridgefield, CT)
I think you're being really hard on George. At least he was funny.
Beth (L.I., NY)
When I look at this administration, and the forces that brought it to power, I am increasingly reminded of the Cultural Revolution in China. We are looking at a group of people who truly value ideological purity over knowledge, expertise, or critical thinking. Their thought process seems to be, "We've gotta get rid of all these people who know what they're doing! The people who have no idea what they're doing, now *they're* the ones who know what they're doing!"
Big Text (Dallas)
The Mad Hatter makes Warpresident Bush look like a genius. We have had small men in the White House before, but never one this mean, this petty, this absolutely clueless about basic facts and reality. Anyone who tells you that he's "very, very smart" is anything but. Someone who's "very, very smart" recognizes the limits of his own intelligence and recognizes uncertainty. Any man who would say "I, alone, can fix these problems" is a fool. Given the arrogant ignorance of our leader, a global financial collapse is inevitable. You can already see the makings of a credit freeze, as global trade is hostage to the mood of the Mad Hatter. What bank would extend credit to a U.S. cotton farmer who exports to Mexico? Just as Warpresident Bush did, the Mad Hatter is declaring the whole world our enemy. A nation without a government is not a nation at all.
Ker (Upstate ny)
"Senior advisor" Stephen Miller is the new face of this bizarre mix of malevolence and incompetence. How is it that in a country of 300 million people, this obnoxious kid gets a chair in the Oval Office? He's the kind of guy who claims a long list of major accomplishments on his resume for the six months he worked as an intern.
ivehadit (massachusetts)
incredible that approval is still at 40%. People reluctant to accept they were wrong?
j. (Wisconsin)
Mr. Charles is right, Pres. Donald, his staff and supporters are mostly ignorant of basic ettiquete, but worse, they could care less because in their "America First" world, everyone should know US and abide by our rules. Trump and his crew disdain what they don't know or understand and believe that is strength. Ignorance is never strength, ultimately. If may have gotten Donald elected, but it won't make him great.
JMD (Fort-Lauderdale. FL)
All I can say Mr Krugman about this, one of your best, op-ed, is, please don't end it with "be afraid, be very afraid". The imposter-in-chief is already doing all he can to spread panic throughout the country. And there's a reason for that!
Encouraging fierce resistance, refusal to give in, sharpening our fighting spirit are of the utmost importance in this truly dangerous political climate.
KB (Brewster,NY)
Trump is a clear reflection of those who put him in office. The goal of Trump supporters has always been to elect "someone like themselves." Someone who will "cut to the chafe" . Educated thinking is for the "elite" who never get anything done ( i.e. help US). Emotions are what count. Express anger, rage and disdain for all of our institutions and then tear them down. Once they are down, we'll figure it out from there.

Trump's election is tantamount to giving the delinquent the keys to car . Let him take us on a " joyride " and see how far we can get without crashing. After all, it could be fun and will at least shake everyone, who hasn't helped us, up.

So careening we go, down a road with an ever changing landscape hoping it all turns out well. God help anybody whose in the way.

As usual, while everyone watches the careening car, the reliable republicans will be looting the economy. We can only hope that his supporters will have had enough after two years. Perhaps, as the republicans roll out their "non replacement" for the ADA, or their plan to cut Social Security, or their intention to reduce Medicare benefits, the Trumpites will get the message: help is Not on the way.......or maybe it just doesn't matter to them. Maybe they just really want a joyride.
Martin Daly (San Diego, California)
When you rant about incompetence, you'd better get your own facts right. Theresa May did not pay a "State Visit" to the USA. You can call it an "official visit" if you like, but only a Head of State (properly) pays a State Visit. In the UK's case that would be The Queen. And this is why there is such an uproar in the UK these days about Trump's wanting to pay a State Visit to the UK - it must involve the Royall Family. An "official visit", one that actually involves work instead of pomp, would be easy to arrange.
Palm lover (Florida)
I AM very afraid! I wonder how and for how long we can deal with this intolerable situation. Sure it's irresistible to check Twitter every few minutes for the latest horror. But we're talking about real lives and the realities of governing. To be honest, I think I need anti-depressants.
sirdanielm (Columbia, SC)
The scariest thing is that you're both right, and that it doesn't matter. Through repetitive lying and a blizzard of dark money, they have seized power. At this point, their rank incompetence won't stop them from doing serious, deep, long-term damage to our country. They already have: the Muslim ban has made us less safe, and the immigration raids are the first step down a much darker road. The only hope for us lies 631 days ahead, on election day 2018.
Ron Mitchell (Dubin, CA)
The GOP believes government is the problem not the solution. Sabotage and incompetence is their way of making that belief come true.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
Look at the picture here. The man is spreading outwards towards the east and the west and bears a worried look.

God's mills grind slowly, but exceedingly
fine.
Russell (Florida)
Let's throw out another word - gullibility. When I first heard Trump speak I'm sure I was like many in thinking how in the world can people believe anything the guy says. But, the fact that they do believe, or at least pretend to, does that say anything about them? Are they angry because they are constantly taken advantage of? Are their lives in upheaval because they lack logical reasoning?
I think Trump, who has a very limited vocabulary and is rumored to be a very poor reader does have one attribute - the ability to see the gullibility in his admirers.
bnc (Lowell, Ma)
It is ironic that Trump supporters believe there is a Democrat conspiracy to destroy our government. Donald Trump is doing just that.
J. Dow (Maine)
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” _Big Brother

This one phrase perfectly describes why Trump will never, ever admit to making a mistake, and constantly rewrites history to fit his narrative of the moment.
Don Smith (phoenix)
Great call. Yet it's is not just the evil circus in the White House, but the somewhat more competent malevolence in Congress that lurks in the shadows while dismantling so much of our greatness. The press largely chases the latest childish Donald antic, while Ryan/McConnell push through bills and rules to solidify their power to do harm. Granted, DJT will only pour gasoline on any upcoming crisis, and does have the nuclear codes, but meanwhile Congress is succeeding daily in codifying ugly laws that portend a dark future.
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