April 29, 2006

Joe Klein hearts Bush

Last Thursday, Michael Krazny had Joe Klein on to talk about his new book. And one thing I found out from Klein was the Clinton was a really cool president and he really likes Bush too.

Although I couldn't listen to it during the actual broadcast (where I would have asked one of my own questions), I listened to the replay because I wanted to hear if anyone would challenge him on his recent statements. Although there were some questions that challenged Klein, I would have liked some more pointed questions that would have made him actually answer why he thinks Bush is so authentic and what it says about him that he hasn't reconsidered his positions now that he knows the extent of Bush's lies and incompetence. What follows is what I transcribed from the interview.

Question: There's a large number of committed Democrats that despise Joe Klein. How can you, Michael Krazny, let him get away with his sleazy trashing of Bill Clinton in Primary Colors. He accepts no responsibility for his writings.

Joe Klein: I don't know, if it was a sleazy trashing of Bill Clinton in Primary Colors, why did Bill Clinton spend so much time giving me interviews before he left office? You know there is a section of the left, and I will not call them liberals, of the left, who don't like me. You know, I'm not an extremist. And I do believe that what passes for liberalism and populism in the industrial age is going to have to change drastically in the information age. Also, there's a segment of the left that believes that any time the United States uses military force in the world, it is an act of immorality and that we are a malignant force in the world. I disagree with that. I'm in favor of the use of force, but only when it's with the imprimatur of the UN or NATO and so I favored the first Gulf War, I favored Kosovo, I favored Afghanistan, and I was opposed to the war in Iraq.

There's an intemperateness, as you said before, Michael, on both sides, on the left and on the right, and I try and mediate between those two.

Question: Please ask Mr. Klein, why the Democratic party runs away from its liberal base while the Republican party embraces its base?

Klein: Well, what I think we've seen in the Republican Party is that George W. Bush has tried to govern from the right over the last six years and look where it's got him. It's gotten him into a disastrous situation. And my feeling is, that Bill Clinton, when he governed best, tried to govern from the middle. And if you want to make big changes in this country, my mentor, Daniel Patrick Monahan, who I dedicated this book to, once said to me that if you want to get something like health insurance, universal health care, through the Senate, it has to pass with 75 votes or it won't pass. You have to have a consensus, you have to govern from the middle if you really want to get things done.

Here's Klein on why John Kerry didn't win because he wasn't authentic.

Klein: I do believe, on the other hand, that Americans are pretty good judges of character and in the 2004 election, they are not going to vote for someone who says I voted for it before I voted against it. You know, in the lesser of two evils, they're going to take someone they disagree with go with but they know where he stands. Now that was on John Kerry, by the way. After he said that, by the way, and after it became the heart of the Republican advertising campaign, he said it to camera. John Kerry had a responsibility as a politician and as a candidate to go to the places where Americans don't watch politics, to go on the Tonight Show, and to make jokes about how stupid a statement it was, the way that Bill Clinton did after he gave that long boring speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention. You know, creativity is not forbidden in Politics, and also, self-deprecating humor will get you a long distance. You have to be able to communicate with people in ways that doesn't involve dental drilling. You know, you have to try and make yourself entertaining, because you are going to be living in their kitchens, as I said before.

Not discussed was why Bush's character is so good when we all now know that Bush lied to take us into a war and then totally screwed it up and he lied about his spying on Americans. Americans did a great job of judging Bush's character in the 2004 election. I guess in Mr. Klein's world, "character" is just a facade and the American public are really looking for who puts on the best act.

The discussion moved to why some people can pull off "authenticity" and why Bush's brothers don't have the twang he has and what does that say about Bush's authenticity.

Klein: ... I don't know either, I suspect that that is closer to who, the rebel that George W. Bush was when he was growing up than the other kids. You know, this would be a great novel. You have a guy with a double oedipal bind. You have the straight laced Northeastern dad, who he's rebelling against, and then you have the brother, Jeb, who the dad always thought was going to be the president. It's a fascinating human drama.

This was followed by a discussion about what Klein thought about Jeb and Hillary's chances for becoming President. Klein pontificated that there was something about who is selected to be worthy for our most precious institution: the presidency. Silly me. I always thought that the president wasn't as important as that thing called the Constitution. Now I know.

Here's Joe Klein on immigration: a questioner asserted that there shouldn't be any question about Bush's immigration policy because Bush and Cheney are totally in sync with big business. Note how Klein uses this to show that just because he doesn't agree with Bush, it doesn't mean that Bush is a bad guy. Unlike that John Kerry, who should be condemned for being inauthentic.

Klein: I think that that's part of the answer, that certainly Bush and Cheney have run a big business oriented presidency, to their detriment. But also, you know, I spent time with George Bush when he was governor of Texas and he spent an awful lot of time talking about [and with poor people] and there were a lot of times that I saw him in 2000 him go into country-club Republican audiences and get tough questions about all these wetbacks and he would go right up into the face of those audiences, which was kind of like Newt Gingrich going into the face of the Evangelical Christians on Intelligent Design. I think that he truly believes that the people who are coming across the border, as I believe, are just coming over for the best of all possible reasons: to support their families, to work hard. [....]Every last motive that George W. Bush has isn't a malign one. You know, there are sometimes that the guy acts for what he considers to be the very best and the most moral of reasons. A lot of times I'll disagree with him, like going to war in Iraq, but, you know, I take him at face value in those things.

Krasney: Well, there's a good deal of consensus that seems to thing that he's going to go to war in Iran or at least some action against Iran, considering going nuclear, Sy Hersh, your former colleague, has made that pretty plain in the New Yorker. You've got Dick Cheney, suddenly backing away from this and supposedly, according to some political analyses, Cheney in a different position now, because he's not saying what they want to hear, and why aren't the Democrats capitalizing on this, why aren't they saying, let's do something about this, but let's not go to Iran. They don't want to appear weak?

Klein: Well, I think that Iran is a very complicated case and as I've said before, all options should be on the table. But, I don't think that an option on the table for the Bush administration at this point, is preemptive, unilateral action, they don't have the credibility in the world. When we do that, as we did in Iraq, it is always to our detriment. You need to have the world on your side. I've spent time in Iran. I know how angry the people there are about that government. I think that there are ways to negotiate this. I in my column for the last 12 years have been in favor of recognizing them.

Of course, we can all be as naive as Joe Klein and believe that Bush wouldn't do anything as silly as trying to start a war with Iran. After all, he's proven he gets all the facts before making a decision.

As this interview shows, Joe Klein really doesn't like liberals and is convinced that he is the embodiment of sensible (centrist) thinking. He's willing to give the benefit of doubt to Bush, but can't stand the left who are evil people. No wonder he is the guy FOX puts on to represent the Democrats.

See also, Tom Frank's take on Joe Klein and his hatred of all things "left".

Then check out the interview with Robert Scheer about his realization that nothing in interviewing and studying every president since Nixon prepared him for Bush.

And don't miss Avedon's fine posts about this same Joe Klein: here and here. He truly is a wanker.

Update: Jonathan Chait, editor at TNR, has a review of Klein's newest work and his complete obliviousness of the disaster that is Bush:

Yet nothing could shake Klein from his theory. Not even Bush's decision to bring on non-compassionate conservative Dick Cheney. "Anybody who tries to take a really strong position on [Cheney] from the left or from the right seems kind of silly," Klein said of Bush's vice presidential selection on a "Meet the Press" panel. "We're all Clintonians now. Everybody is a Third Way Democrat or Republican, you know, and I think that that's one of the central problems that politicians in both parties face right now, is that there are no huge differences, or at least very few."

And then, after the election, Klein predicted that the result would be "a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship," with no big tax cuts or Supreme Court ideologues. Klein suggested helpfully, "Bush could easily retain Lawrence Summers at Treasury and Richard Holbrooke at the United Nations." And this scenario could have easily come to pass, provided every other Cabinet-eligible American citizen had been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust.

...There are also Klein's ideological prejudices, which pop up throughout his book. Like other centrist pundits, he has a disdain for populism. Unlike the others, he makes his disdain explicit rather than simply assuming it as an unquestionable truth. "The least successful form of populism," writes Klein in his book, "is [Bob] Shrum's economic class warfare, which has only received majority support during tough times, like the Great Depression." (Harry Truman? Lyndon Johnson? Al Gore plus Ralph Nader?) Klein argues that Democrats would win more elections if they focused on gun control and global warming, favored issues of the latte set. I'm tempted to suggest that the set of issues Klein derides in the book as "jobs, health-care, and blah-blah-blah" has some resonance with the segment of the voting public that doesn't lead the privileged lifestyle of a multimillionaire author and TV pundit. But that would sound populist.

The fact that Klein continues to believe in the inherent goodness of Bush is enough to show how completely cut off he himself is from reality. As Chait says: He is Karl Rove's ideal mark.

Posted by Mary at April 29, 2006 10:37 AM | Media | Technorati links |