From the "War Room" at salon.com:
"Although Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan frequently spouts the Republican party line, he still gets the Oracle of Delphi treatment from members of Congress and the mainstream media. Greenspan has gravitas like most of us have breakfast, and when he pronounces judgment on something -- the economy, unemployment, Social Security -- his views are treated more often than not as the indisputable truth from on high.
"Is that starting to change? It's hard not to think so after reading what Harry Reid had to say about the Fed chairman yesterday. Appearing on CNN, Reid -- who is usually a killing-them-with-kindness kind of guy -- called Greenspan 'one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington.'"
UPDATE: I guess I should add that I don't object to what Greenspan said, since I also favor a consumption tax, albeit preferably as a replacement to the income tax and with probably much greater progressivity than he prefers. But there certainly is no reason why either his position or his talents (admittedly significant, it seems, in terms of sensing macroeconomic trends) would lead his view on this to have any special weight. And he really has undermined himself with his increasingly clear partisan and ideological set of preferences, which I think he tries to hide behind the mask of the great Oz.
As a practical matter, Paul Krugman probably deserves credit (or blame) as the person who has licensed politicians such as Harry Reid to start attacking Greenspan as a partisan hack. And so long as these attacks are on Greenspan's broader political ruminations and interventions, not on his running Fed policy independently of direct political control, there's nothing wrong with it. A lesson to Greenspan and to future Fed chiefs that you should watch your partisan interventions if you want to preserve your reputation and independence would be very much in order.