Paul Krugman vs. Jon Stewart: The grudge match over a $1 trillion coin

For liberals, it's the ideological equivalent of watching your parents fight

Jon Stewart
(Image credit: Comedy Central, screen shot)

During the Bush administration, perhaps no two personalities captured the torment of the liberal psyche better than Paul Krugman and Jon Stewart. Writing in The New York Times, the Nobel Prize-winning economist represented the kind of ardent, white-knuckled fury that resulted in outbursts — "This world is going crazy!" — at the breakfast table. The comedian, on the other hand, used satire and a can-you-believe-this stare to induce amused head-shaking — "The world is going crazy!" — in the television den. They were the alpha and omega, the yin and the yang, of the liberal coping mechanism.

So the past week has been tough for liberals. Stewart and Krugman have been going after each other with their respective weapons of choice (a lot of righteous fire on one side, a lot of irreverent ribbing on the other), which for liberals is the ideological equivalent of watching your parents fight. It all began, as so many arguments do these days, with the $1 trillion coin. On The Daily Show last Thursday, Stewart fell firmly on the side of the argument that thinks the $1 trillion coin is a pretty ridiculous idea. "I’m not an economist, but if we're just going to make shit up, I say go big or go home," he said. "How about a $20 trillion coin?"

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