Newsweek editor Jon Meacham clearly does not like this week's cover-boy Paul Krugman. He wrote a cover letter (From the Editor's Desk) to the cover story in which he hurls two epithets at the Nobel laureate. He calls him a "chatterer" and a "Cassandra."
It seems to us that he ran the story just so he could undermine the subject with erudite sounding left handed insults.
Meacham sounds off first with this twisted descriptive,
Every once in a while, though, a critic emerges who is more than a chatterer—a critic with credibility whose views seem more than a little plausible and who manages to rankle those in power in more than passing ways.Boy does that rub me the wrong way. "More than a chatterer..." means the subject is more than a person we automatically ignore, more than teeth that click together automatically on a cold day. (We think that Meacham meant to use the classic Spiro Agnew put-down, "Nattering nabob" but got cold feet and switched it to the less effusive "chatterer".)
Another pompous entity posing as a writer used the term "chattering" recently. And there again it raised our hackles. Daphne Merkin, writing her bizarre defense of her brother in the Times, threw in this little turn of a phrase, which we have not taken out of any meaningful context,
Meanwhile, the animus against the rich continues to thrive, especially among the chattering classes (has anyone ever been among a group of artsy types who had anything positive to say about the wealthy?), even as they are held up as exemplars of initiative and drive.So putting together these two contemporaneous uses of the insults, "chatterer" and "chattering classes" we come to the conclusion that Meacham nearly choked when he realized he had to spit out that "More than a chatterer..." compliment-wrapped-in-an-insult about his cover-man Krugman.
Meacham is no slouch. He recouped quickly to wind up his introductory devaluatory prefatory remarks to his cover story with this unquestionable derogatory,
...a lot of people have a "creeping feeling" that the Cassandra from Princeton may just be right. After all, the original Cassandra was.Hurrah. The Newsweek editor got the names "chatterer," "creeping" and "Cassandra" pinned on Paul Krugman.
Now which should it be? Hurrah? Do we applaud or do we cringe?