Popular economist and New York Times opinion writer Paul Krugman insists in his latest piece that the intellectual right is dead. He has issued this declaration with some regularity for quite a while, in part, because he never lacks for material. The intellectual right is inconveniently prone to insist upon its own existence.

The condition that compelled Krugman to issue another dispatch in this long-running series is Kevin Williamson’s dismissal following his brief tenure at the Atlantic. The Times economist’s claim that Williamson was let go for a rhetorically inflammatory articulation of a point of view that he might not even hold represents a damning indictment of the right’s collective intellect. “[M]edia organizations are looking for unicorns,” he writes, “serious, honest, conservative intellectuals with real influence.”

Krugman goes on from there to talk about what he ostensibly knows: economics. There, too, the American right is, in his estimation, cognitively deficient. By way of example, Krugman cites Donald Trump’s new head of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, who is “basically a TV personality.” That is, of course, nonsense. Kudlow was the chief economist for Bear Stearns in the 1980s and the associate director for the Office of Management and Budget during Ronald Reagan’s first term, as well as being a prolific writer, thinker, and, yes, on-camera personality on CNBC (as though that was a career negative). Kudlow’s crime is that the views to which he adheres are discredited in Krugman’s eyes. This is an assertion he seems to believe is unquestionable and intuitively understood. Maddeningly, the world around Paul Krugman stubbornly refuses to conform to his prejudices.

Krugman has made an admission against interest, albeit one that he is not predisposed to recognize. Over the last several years, the right has become one of the most vibrant spaces in American intellectual life. By writing off the intellectual right as a moribund enterprise, Krugman is missing out on a lot.

Take Krugman’s own example: economics. The Times columnist rags on Kudlow and Stephen Moore—the policy analyst, writer, Heritage Foundation visiting fellow, and former president of Club for Growth—as empty suits whose rote occupation is to preach the gospel of tax cuts. Kudlow, Moore, and other like minds are the economic advisors that enjoy a hearing at the Trump White House, sure, but Krugman does a disservice to his readers to say they constitute the breadth of the political economy on the right.

Today, there is a vital debate on the right over basic economic precepts that Republicans had once taken for granted: the necessity of international free-trade regimes and the value of protectionism, the efficacy of deficit-financed tax cuts as a means of stimulating growth, the virtue of deficits and the vice of debt, and the usefulness of Keynesian simulative public-sector spending to “prime the pump,” as the president is fond of saying. Much of this debate was prompted by Donald Trump’s ascension to lead the GOP. Trump’s challenge to supply-side orthodoxy won him some converts among conservatives, but it also forced dissenters to revisit the literature and sharpen their arguments. It’s difficult to know how Krugman managed to avoid the fierce internecine feud among Republicans over even basic economic assumptions that long ago spilled out of polite, private conservative salons and into the streets.

This is hardly the only area in which the right’s intellectual firmament is teeming with activity. Trump’s rise has led to intramural fissures over the necessity of coercive governmental “nudging” in social and economic policy. It has prompted a bracing debate over the conduct of American affairs abroad that renders the traditional divide between neo-and paleo-conservative inoperative. It has inspired paradigmatic debates over American immigration policy, the social safety net, and the superiority of incrementalism over revolutionary change.

Conservative intellectuals are engaged in a regular debate over the most fundamental concepts relating to national cohesion. What is nationalism? Can its excesses be contained? Does creedal American patriotism proscribe populist tribalism? Can these philosophies marry into a coherent political philosophy?

As for individuals, the right is not short on intellectuals. George Mason University Economics Professor Bryan Caplan is doing fascinating work examining the market and social value of degrees from institutions of higher learning. Arthur Brooks, the outgoing president of the American Enterprise Institute, is on a mission to popularize heightened social consciousness and racial and economic justice among conservatives. AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt is doing some of the most innovative work on inequality at home and threats abroad of anyone on either end of the American political spectrum. Ramesh Ponnuru, Reihan Salam, Steve Hayward, Rich Lowry, Matt Continetti, George Will, Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson; all have unique disciplines and are engaged in an almost daily public debate over policy and politics. The right even has its own Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the bookish conservative political philosopher, former university president, and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse. His frequent willingness to criticize the Republican president and his party should at least render him an interesting specimen to the intellectually curious.

This is to say nothing of the hundreds of intellectually capable conservative writers who contribute regularly to the pages of major daily newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and LA Times, or conservative opinion journals such as COMMENTARY, National Review, National Affairs, the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, and many more. To name even one would be to shortchange hundreds more. The intellectual crucible into which the right’s ideological combatants descend every day is fractious, energetic, stimulating, and never boring.

Even if you don’t agree with some or all of these opinion makers, to insist that this environment simply doesn’t exist is bizarre. You can say one thing about these writers, authors, and public intellectuals: At least they’re not turning in the same column every month.

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