"Do you have a degree in economics?"

Matt Lewis flags this must-see moment from MSNBC, admittedly a phrase heard only slightly more often than “the good judgment of Anthony Weiner.”  Contessa Brewer gets into an argument over economic policy with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and tries to talk him down by snidely asking him whether he has a degree in economics … which, to Brewer’s embarrassment, Brooks does:

Brooks actually has three degrees: political science, economics, and law. As a lawyer, Brooks would have been experienced enough not to make Brewer’s mistake in a cross-examination, which is to ask a question without first knowing the answer. Not only that, but Brewer was being flat-out rude as well as foolish; MSNBC invited Brooks to appear to get his perspective on the issues. If their hosts respond by belittling them (whether it backfires or not), what does that say about MSNBC, its management, and the kind of invitations they make?

Since Brewer made an issue out of having an economics degree before engaging in economics debates, she must have a doctorate in the subject herself, right? Not exactly. According to her Wikipedia entry, Brewer has a baccalaureate in broadcast journalism (magna cum laude). Apparently they didn’t teach interviewing skills at Syracuse, or logic either, as a requisite for the degree.

As it happens, I don’t have a degree in economics (or journalism), either.  I think that it’s entirely possible that the 2008 collapse could have triggered a deflationary spiral that would have created a depression instead of a sharp recession absent the interventions in the fall of that year; it’s at least an arguable point.  I don’t have an issue with Brewer discussing economics without a degree, except that she doesn’t seem sharp enough to grasp the issues on her own — as demonstrated by demanding a level of expertise for the debate that she herself doesn’t meet.