Krugman’s unanswered critique

I got to wondering why the voices raised in opposition to Paul Krugman’s series of columns about the Bush presidency always seem to go for the ad hom argument, at times resorting to coordinated smearing and so rarely seem to engage with the substance of his (coherent, by way of contrast) lines of argument.
When I saw the URL for Krugman’s column today on the political opportunism of the administration team in a friends’s IM status message, we had this conversation:

xi: have you noticed that right-wing talking points always attack krugman personally, or question his biases, or nitpick about some fact-checking or matter of tone…
xi: but they never address the underlying “emperor has no clothes” analysis
btb: yeah…i like him…he is left leaning, but my god…i just can’t get over how blatantly and patently stupid the bush plan (for everything) is
btb: it’s embarrassing…for bush, and for us citizens that this can go on
btb: i mean, at least with reagan, love him or hate him, there was some underlying cohesive concept (supply side) behind his madness
btb: with bush, it’s just grotesque pandering passed off as compassionate conservatism (aptly described by robin williams as being like a volvo with a gunrack)
xi: he leans left given these times, sure, but he has very traditional economic viewpoints about trade, macroeconomics, etc.
xi: what is the saying about “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce”?
btb: i would argue that krugman is slightly left regardless of the times…which is ok…actually, left and right really don’t apply to economists i suppose, there are schools of thought (fix/float; monetary/fiscal; demand side/supply side) that get taken up by pol parties at any given time to sharpen the ax in need of grinding at the moment, so then, yes, i guess you’re right, at this time krugman’s pov seems left cuz the right is so f-in dumb
xi: yeah. it’s not like he’s for socialism or collectivism or even protectionism. i’d say he is a “Libera
xi: l”
xi: oops
btb: yeah, but in today’s bizzarro world a lot of bush’s policies — huge farm subsidies and steel tariffs– seem like out-dated lefty protectionism, but so much so that post-clinton not even leftists would dare stand up in favor of tariffs and subsidies for dying industries..strange then that rove, uh, i mean bush, got those things thru
xi: yup. it’s the ascendancy of marketing and PR. The salesmen have taken over.