Much to the disappointment of liberal fans from Hollywood to Europe — and the instant ire of conservatives everywhere — Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist and "world's best-known economist," has officially announced he's not up for replacing Timothy Geithner at the Treasury Department. Though "flattered," Krugman writes in a blog post this morning, "an administrative job requires making hiring and firing decisions, it means keeping track of many things, and that, to say the least, is not my forte."
Krugman goes on to explains why he's pre-emptively turning down a job he probably was never actually up for, but for which 188,000 petitioners — and counting — believe he is more than qualified to helm:
The New York Times isn’t just some newspaper somewhere, it’s the nation’s paper of record. As a result, being an op-ed columnist at the Times is a pretty big deal — one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted — and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators.
"Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?" Krugman asks, rhetorically. And a bit later, in an impressive display of self-awareness: "An administration job, no matter how senior, would actually reduce my influence."
Well, not everyone was so impressed with lines like those, as the haughty police quickly took to Twitter:
Ego run amuck -- Paul Krugman, in the NYT, passes on a Treasury Secretary job he was never offered.Floats his own nomination.— Michael Freeman (@michaelpfreeman) January 7, 2013
Paul Krugman humbly declines to lead Treasury: "Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?" bit.ly/UvNkMr— Ryu Spaeth (@RyuSpaeth) January 7, 2013
Krugman, of course, still has his fans. Over the weekend, Mark Weisbrot of The Guardian nominated "the world's best-known economist" for the job, which Geithner will leave later this month, citing Krugman's uncommon foresight "about the major problems facing our economy, where many other economists and much of the business press have been wrong." Today actor Danny Glover threw in his support, with the help of MoveOn.org, in the form of a petition urging Obama to consider Krugman as a possible replacement. But all signs point to Obama looking internally at Jack Lew, his current chief of staff, and for Krugman sticking in Princeton.