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The latest Twitter spat: Estonia vs. Paul Krugman?

June 6, 2012 |  6:39 pm

Twitter went atwitter Wednesday over a somewhat surprising spat: The President of Estonia apparently slamming New York Times columnist Paul Krugman as “smug, overbearing & patronizing.”

Estonia enjoys a budget surplus after enduring harsh austerity measures, which have been deeply unpopular across the Eurozone. Wednesday, Krugman argued in a short blog that Estonia, “the poster child for austerity defenders,” had only achieved an incomplete recovery.

"Better than no recovery at all, obviously -- but this is what passes for economic triumph?" he concluded.

In response, the Twitter account used by Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves snapped that Krugman was indulging in “smug & snide gloating” at Estonians' expense. One tweet dropped a profane word to sarcastically say Eastern Europeans could be insulted because "their English is bad, won't respond & actually do what they've agreed to & reelect govts that are responsible.”

"But yes, what do we know? We're just dumb & silly East Europeans. Unenlightened. Someday we too will understand. Nostra culpa,“ another tweet said.

The @IlvesToomas Twitter account was not officially verified, but Ilves had linked to it on his Facebook page in March and appears to have used it frequently in the past. As the infuriated tweets rapidly picked up attention online, the Twitter user argued he was “not conserv. or leftist. Just can’t fathom why following agreed upon EU fiscal rules justifies smug & snide gloating re: my country.”

The Twitter account then linked to a lengthy March essay by Ilves to explain “why we might be a bit peeved.” In the essay, called “I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday,” Ilves argues, “The bankrolling of Southern Europe has already and ever-increasingly threatened the fiscally responsible countries, the ones who have shown solidarity and voted to commit to bailing out those better off than we.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Krugman hadn’t responded on Twitter.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

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