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Disciplinary peeve of the day

- September 3, 2008

I’m Irish, and one perennial cause for complaint among my country people has been the way that Irish sports celebrities and pop stars are treated by the UK press as British (until of course they start losing, become embroiled in sex and drugs scandals or whatever, when they become Paddies again). Since becoming a political scientist, I’ve observed a similar pattern in the relationship between pol-sci and economics, nicely encapsulated in this “MSNBC piece”:http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/09/03/1334964.aspx today:

bq. Obama’s focus on kitchen-table issues is designed to attract voters whose top concern is the economy. In his brief remarks at the town hall, which was billed as a “Women’s Economic Event,” he criticized McCain on taxes, the economy, health care, and other issues. He also used a book by the economist Larry Bartels — “Unequal Democracy” — to argue that Republicans had a bad track record for helping ordinary Americans.

bq. “There’s a book that’s come out right now, by prominent economist — irrefutable — looking at the evidence showing that when Democrats have been in charge of the economy, the economy has grown faster and it’s also been fairer in the sense that everybody benefits. And when the Republicans have been in charge, the economy has grown slower and there’s been greater inequality. And this is, you know, looking back over the last 80 years,” he said. “So we’ve got a good story to tell. We’ve got a good track record, we’ve gotta tell it more effectively in this election.”

It’s nice of course that Larry Bartels is getting mentioned in prominent speeches and all, but if you can find any “evidence”:http://www.princeton.edu/~bartels/vitae.pdf that he’s an economist of any description whatsoever, as opposed to a political scientist with lots to say about US political economy and its relationship to the electoral system, I’ll buy you a pint at the next APSA.