The core of the Erick Erickson global brand is that he is a man of the people, a conservative pundit blogging away tirelessly in a thriving red state. The problem is that the more successful the Erickson brand becomes, the more hollow it is at its core. That was exposed in a fight between Erickson and The New York Times' Paul Krugman over the price of milk and bread.

Earlier this week, at RedState, Erickson wrote that real Americans hate the Acela corridor — that's the Amtrak express route between New York and Washington, for you everymen who are not familiar with high-speed inter-city transportation on the East Coast — because the Acela corridor doesn't understand the problems real Americans face. "The rest of America is nervous about where their next meal and paycheck are coming from, how they are going to afford to bail their kids out of crumbling schools, and the price of a gallon of milk and loaf of bread that keep going up though Ben Bernanke tells them there is no inflation," Erickson said.

Erickson had to get schooled on the price of milk and bread by Krugman, an uppity bearded liberal. At right, some charts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics make that clear. Krugman writes:

So, how does Erickson know that the prices of bread and milk are soaring? Has he been carefully keeping track? Or is it just fake populism, an attempt to sound like Everyman while actually just whining?

Politico's Dylan Byers asked Erickson for comment. While it might not actually be true that milk and bread are more expensive, it feels true, he said. "Paul uses a chart to try to disprove the reality that Americans with small kids actually experience at the grocery store," Erickson emailed. He's heard a lot of moms and dads complain about grocery prices, and "sometimes the accuracy of the chart isn't as real to people as the perception they have that their grocery store bills are getting more expensive though their shopping habits haven't changed."

Note that Erickson is pointing to the unnamed masses struggling with their grocery bills for support. Erickson himself, with his radio show and his endorsements and his website and his Fox News gig and his books, probably does not have to spend a lot of time worrying about the price of milk and bread. To understand Erickson's predicament, it's important to look at the example of Jay-Z. With his earlier albums, Jay-Z's songs were fun and interesting, because he talked about his early life experiences, which included many unusual predicaments and moral quandaries that were more intense versions of the dilemmas all humans experience. However, once Jay-Z became a very wealthy rap mogul, his raps got really boring, because he is a rich person with no real problems, or at least, with problems that no one can relate to, such as, "Politicians talk about me" and "I've switched champagne brands because an executive said he didn't like seeing his product in rap videos."

Erick Erickson might have started out as a scrappy blogger, whose wife had to work even though he believes working moms damage children. But not anymore. Today, Erick Erickson is a studio gangster.

(Top photos via Gage Skidmore, The Commonwealth Club via Flickr; inset by Carolyn Kaster/AP.)