Congratulations to Paul Krugman, Princeton Economist, for his Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences! The international trade expert learned he'd been honored this morning, greeting the news with only mild surprise. "To be absolutely, totally honest I thought this day might come someday, but I was absolutely convinced it wasn't going to be this day," Krugman told the New York Times, where he's been an Op-Ed columnist for years. And the prize committee claims they honored Krugman for "having shown the effects of economies of scale on trade patterns and on the location of economic activity," but we layman can all assume that Krugman won the prize for his column's years of Bush-bashing. Just like when Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace prize in 2002! Carter won supposedly for working "to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development" but everyone knew it was just because the international community hates George W. Bush and former president Carter can't stop complaining about Bush. Of course, Krugman still thinks he won this prize for his "economics," but he knows full well that the recognition won't silence the people who read his writings just to call him a communist or whatever:

"I think we've learned this when we see Joe Stiglitz writing," Mr. Krugman said, referring to the winner of the economics Nobel in 2001. "I haven't noticed him getting an easy time. People just say, ‘Sure, he's a great Nobel laureate and he's very smart, but he still doesn't know what he's talking about in this situation.' I'm sure I'll get the same thing."

Oddly, at The Corner, that hothouse of conservative self-delusion, the only response so far has been cautiously complimentary:

Let's Just Get It Out of the Way Now [Jonah Goldberg] Congratulations professor Krugman. Update: A lot of readers write in to tell me the prize must be a joke, that it's political etc. I have no idea whether, or how much, politics entered the decision - though politics often does. But I think folks need to know that Krugman really is a very serious and respected economist. I have no idea how his academic work has held up since he became a pundit. But people have been talking about him getting a Nobel for years. Look, Noam Chomsky's a great linguist. Being good at your academic specialty has never been a great indicator of your political acuity.

Expect this moderate response to be walked back as the day progresses, perhaps first with an anti-Krugman email or two (maybe from unnamed "economists"!) reprinted without comment. Eventually someone will chime in with a sarcastic Carter reference, and it will all culminate this afternoon with a ten-paragraph screed by Andy McCarthy or something. More serious (and even less serious!) conservative commentators are similarly nonplussed, as it's hard to paint the economics prize committee as an unserious political organization. Which is a sad, sad statement on the current Conservative Movement, really. When their front-line idea warriors are allowing a bunch of fruity foreigners to claim the unhinged Krugman is in some way an important and serious thinker, there's no heart left in the fight. Especially when he's an influential member of the shadow government of economists who are somehow convincing this administration to "listen to experts" instead of just doing whatever they find politically expedient! After weeks of hectoring Treasury Secretary Paulson on the benefits of socializing the banks, Krugman's basically won, with the Bush Administration pretty much signing on to the totally commie British Plan. All in all, it's a very timely Nobel Prize, as Krugman is now in a great position to lead the international conspiracy of serious economists who are trying to convince the Bush administration to do something totally antithetical to their ideology to solve this crisis before it's too late.