Some of you know about Bob Murphy’s debate challenge. If you don’t — and heck, even if you do — visit KrugmanDebate.com. Make sure you understand the specifics before saying, “Krugman will never do it.” Murphy has made it hard for Krugman to say no, given the money that would go to charity if it occurred.
I talked to Gary North, a marketing genius, about this over the weekend. He already knew about the debate challenge, but as we were talking he came up with a great idea. I am not sure Bob will do it. I hope he does. It would inflict pain on Krugman, week after week. It would do so humorously. It may inflict so much pain as to force Krugman to debate. As a pleasant side effect, it would put Bob on the map in a way far beyond what he has already achieved, which is itself considerable.
Here’s an excerpt from North’s members-only article today:
The trick for Murphy is to smoke Krugman out. He must inflict so much humiliation on Krugman for not debating him that Krugman will be forced to take him on.
I have a plan. It is risk-free for Murphy and could be permanently disastrous for Krugman. It involves the use of YouTube. It involves the strategic use of ridicule. But the form of ridicule will leave Murphy untouchable. That’s because it will involve humor.
I will not spell it out here. I will say only this. First, Murphy can pull it off, cheap. All it will take is time. Second, it will inflict more pain on Krugman than he can possibly imagine. Third, the pain will escalate weekly. There will be only one way to stop the pain from increasing: hold the debate.
If Murphy then beats him, the pain will then remain on a permanent basis, visible to all. If Krugman beats him, or gets a draw, Murphy loses. But how much does Murphy have to lose?
That’s the price of being a nationally known columnist. Little people, risking nothing, can call your bluff at any time. The preferred defensive strategy — silence — does not work if the challenger is media-savvy. Murphy works with people in a professional comedy troupe who are media-savvy. They can help him produce the kind of videos I suggest.
Murphy is a good debater. Krugman is not an effective performer on camera. He is easily flustered.
Murphy really will clean his clock. But given the Chinese water torture method I have devised, I hope Krugman adopts the old standby: “Murphy? Who’s Murphy?” The pain will escalate weekly.