Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 4, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GENERATION TRAP....If you haven't been following the ongoing brawl between Time columnist Joe Klein and the liberal blogosphere, it's probably too late to bring you completely up to speed. Let's just say that the blogosphere thinks Klein is a wanker and Klein returns the compliment in full.

Which is too bad, because I think there might be an interesting conversation to be had here if we could get past the Crossfire-style drive-by insults. Here's Klein a couple of days ago on why he's a centrist:

I've come to my views honestly, after years of watching extremists on both sides of the spectrum refuse to accept the complexities of reality with disastrous consequences -- beginning with the liberal attempt to impose court-ordered school busing to achieve integration in Boston in the 1970's (I couldn't find any black people who actually favored it) to the ridiculous supply-side aversion to taxation to the current foreign policy of the neoconservatives.

In a followup post he listed some benchmarks for identifying a "left-wing extremist," and after reading comments from liberal critics suggesting that real-life liberals didn't take any of the extreme positions he imputed to them, he replied sarcastically, "There are no lefties left. There are no socialists left....Jeez, that's a relief."

So what's gong on? The biggest clue is that the first example of lefty extremism that comes to Klein's mind is an issue that's been all but dead for over a decade, while his examples of righty extremism are alive and well right now today. And socialists? There have never been many socialists in America, but there were at least a few who pretended to be in the 60s and 70s, when Klein and his generation first became politically active. But today? Outside of Berkeley, you'd have to swing several hundred dead cats before you'd be likely to come across an actual socialist.

Still, since I became politically aware during the 70s and early 80s (a decade later than Klein), I have at least a little bit of appreciation for what's driving him. For somebody with a moderate temperament, some of the excesses of that era are bound to leave scars. In my case, though, I was only aware during that period, not active. Like most lefty bloggers, I only started following politics in a serious way in the late 90s. So for me the ghosts of school busing are just that: ghosts.

My political frame of reference is different. It's Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America; it's the insane wingnut scandal-mongering of the Clinton administration, culminating in Kenneth Starr and the Republican loonies trying to impeach a president over a blow job; it's the press beating up on Al Gore in 2000 and a conservative Supreme Court then awarding the disputed election to its favored candidate; it's a series of brazen, multi-trillion dollar tax cuts aimed at the GOP's rich donor class; it's the K Street Project; it's the 30-year stagnation of middle class wages, partly due to an unholy alliance between conservatives and neoliberals on trade and unions; it's a disastrous war in Iraq led by a president who had no clue what he was getting into (and still doesn't); and during this entire time a Democratic Party seemingly adrift and unwilling to really fight back.

Now, I sort of get the fact that, having grown up and reported on politics during the 60s and 70s, Klein still gets twitchy when he sees things that remind him of it. And his personal knowledge of the past has some pretty obvious utility, especially for a blogosphere that tends to be pretty historically myopic. But in the face of everything that's happened since 1994, does he really think his memories of school busing are germane?

This is where a genuine, non-snarky conversation might actually be interesting. Basically, I (and most of the liberal blogosphere, I assume) think that Klein is living in the past. He just hasn't completely internalized the vast changes of the past decade: namely that right-wing extremism is now light years more dangerous than any chimerical revival of the New Left. With apologies to Bernie Sanders, there aren't any socialists left in national politics, and a spotty dedication to national healthcare is about the most radical position held among mainstream liberals today.

I imagine Klein would say I'm wrong. He'd say he gets it just fine, and I'm the one being naive. But it would be worth having an inter-generational conversation that tries to unpack the assumptions behind the name calling. You never know. We might all learn something.

Kevin Drum 12:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (186)

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Comments

I'm Klein's generation and he's nuts if he thinks he's battling anything other than demons inside his head.

Posted by: QrazyQat on March 4, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

That's the problem though, Kevin. Klein's too insulated now. He doesn't have to worry about the problems within the current political sphere. He's IN the political sphere right now. That tends to color his world. We're just little mental midgets on the outside looking in. How could WE ever truly understand how the world works from the outside, when he, a privelidged member of the press, can see it for himself!

Posted by: Kryptik on March 4, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Of course that's the problem. No one wants to learn anything anymore. It's all about confirming and expanding the reach of what you think you already know.

Posted by: Cranky on March 4, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I think the real difficulty is that Klein is using static definitions that don't make much sense today, and I would argue never make much sense. Political activity is not on a continuum between right and left (does anybody know where that came from anyway?), but I would argue is a bifurcation between authoritarian and generative (without making value judgments about either, because sometimes maintenance is just as important as exploration). So where the hell is the center in that? Either you are inclined to follow traditions and/or what other people tell you, or you are inclined to explore new ways of doing things. I think Klein, and much of our "liberal" pundit class is in the midst of an ongoing identity crisis. They want to believe they are generative, this is the mythology they have built up about themselves, but in the end they have personalities that lean in the direction of authoritarian - they are prone to want to listen and want to believe what their betters tell them, and they are terrified of those who do not. I don't think you can reach a position of influence in the MSM, which in the end is very conservative (small c), if you are prone to look for new ideas.

So Klein's problem is he wants to tell the world he has a generative perspective when he actually has an authoritarian personality. I think this is difficult even for him to handle.

Posted by: Wilbur on March 4, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I dont think that an intergenerational conversation woudl neccessarily have much value. Klein is moored in the past; that makes him an enabler of the excesses of teh Right today because he gives them "balanced, objective" cover. If hecan be convinced of the error of his ways, great. But if not, then theres little point in debating whether the 60s era lefties or modern righties are the worse bogeymen. Its a purely academic discussion.

heres a useful metric to investigate baout teh utility of debate: what did Klein have to say about the Starr report at the time?

Posted by: Aziz Poonawalla on March 4, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with actually engaging Klein over any of this is that he likes to argue in generalities. When asked to name names, he demurs. As long as he doesn't have to connect his claims to observable reality, he can't be proven wrong.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on March 4, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

klein's over-estimation of his own intelligence, and his dismissal of the apparently unhinged online progressive community, is also probably a reflection of age. he's been reduced to some old coot yelling "get off my lawn" to some punk kids.

whether this is simply age, or a combination of age with political insider-ship, is debatable.

ultimately, however, the value has been transferred from the old wise white men to actual product, and this is where klein is considerably lacking. on the salient issue of the day, he was wrong, and for whatever reason (whether it be his insider status, his age, or his supposed convictions) he cannot defend his action (or inaction, to be charitable).

he thinks he is somehow owed respect for his age and status, while somehow managing to avoid dealing with the consequences of his work.

Posted by: Nads on March 4, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Wilbur,

Bingo!

They are authoritarians that enjoy porn and dope and they think that makes them Liberals.

Almost like most Libertarians...who think they are "Anti-State" when they are actually "Right-Wing Statists."

Posted by: SomeOtherDude on March 4, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein wrote:

A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes: . . . doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best liberal idea in human history.
I can think of several profoundly American liberal ideas that trump mere capitalism. For example:
  • All men [and women] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
  • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . .
  • No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury . . .
I could continue at length, of course, but I think this brief list of liberal ideas coming from the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights demolishes Klein's suggestion that only a left wing extremist would reject the idea that regulated capitalism is the best liberal idea in human history.
 

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 4, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Klein reminds me of my cloth-coat Republican dad (in his early 70s, thus a generation older than Klein): whenever my dad and I get into a political disagreement and I ask him to name the policy sins of the Democratic Party, he always, always refers to something that happened in the 60s or earlier. When pressed for an example that isn't 40 years old, he simply can't do it, and it doesn't matter to him. The last few decades' reality just don't matter to people like Klein and my dad.

Sad, really. I hope that doesn't happen to me as I age.

Posted by: pdp on March 4, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Klein is complete in his cluelessness, a creature entirely of a dated perspective.

He doesn't even mention Identity Politics, which I regard as the real differentiator of what I'd regard as the extreme left and the more moderate left. That's where all the psychic energy of left wing fanatics goes these days, instead of such pedestrian things as economic justice for the poor and middle class. Marxism really is dead, but Identity politics is still revving up.

Want to see leftist ideology in full exercise of an absurd agenda? Go to academe and stir up an Identity Politics issue -- any issue. The nuts will fall from the sky like raindrops in Seattle. And forget about the uncool poor -- I mean, aren't a lot of them white trash? Eww. Look at the course offerings and the many "Identity" departments, and you'll see the movement just finding its stride. Marxist critics, once the darlings of leftist academics, are now quite passe. The baton has been passed.

That's one reason I worry about an Obama run as Democratic nominee for President; all the Identity politics crowd seem to be finding a very comfortable place to roost there.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 4, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Try this:

A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes: . . . doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is one of the grandest liberal ideas in human history.

Better?

Posted by: buford on March 4, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

We're bad because we swear. Sorry, I mean fuckin' swear. Or fuck and swear. Oh, that messy life and all its complexity. Bring in Rudy to clean it up!

It seems they all go Woodward eventually—and not 'towards the wood', either. It's soft timber in Little Joe's case.

Posted by: Kenji on March 4, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Living in the past" ... isn't that one way to define a conservative?

Posted by: ahlanwasahlan on March 4, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Want to see leftist ideology in full exercise of an absurd agenda? Go to academe and stir up an Identity Politics issue -- any issue. The nuts will fall from the sky like raindrops in Seattle.
Posted by: frankly0

This is a vague enough generalization to be meaningless as written. ... and, I am actually curious as to what you are trying to say.

mind clarifying?

Posted by: Nads on March 4, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"pursuit of happiness" ~ self-interest in capitalism

"freedom of speech" ~ *marketplace* of ideas

4th amendment ~ *private* property

Bounded capitalism "promotes the general welfare and secures the blessings of liberty" better than any other alternatives that have been tried so far.

Posted by: Mark on March 4, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

One way to think of Klein's dated list of leftist excesses is that virtually ALL of them can be subsumed under Marxist critiques.

But even in academe, Marxist critiques are out of style.

The problem today, according to the leftist segments of academe, is not the imperialist capitalists. It is the patriarchy, and always was.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 4, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's naive to assume that professional pundits, particularly those who are well known and well paid, assume the positions they do for any reason other than a desire to continue to be well known and well paid. Naturally they have to continue to defend whatever positions they assumed when they became well known. Those few who became well known because they switched from left to right or vice versa became well paid by continuing to attack their former positions and can't possibly change their minds again.
The real point is that these fools have no particular expertise that makes their point of view any more valid than anyone else's; they are pundits because someone paid them to become pundits and enough people agreed with their initial position to keep them promoting it no matter how often reality intervened.
Since journalism today has become the art of filling the spaces between ads with words, somebody has to provide the words no matter how silly the words may be. If the reader glances from the words to the ad the pundit's real mission is accomplished.

Posted by: fyreflye on March 4, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein says "It would be wildly stupid for me to get into a pissing match..."

But into one he gets.

Any reasonable person can tell this piece is divisive crap and it is so stereotypic and demeaning that I bet he was out of ideas for discourse and put this in as a filler.
Journalistic crap.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

All but dead for decades?

A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes:
--believes the United States is a fundamentally negative force in the world.

Consider Ward Churchill and his comments on the people who worked in the WTC. And the people who backed him for tenure and defended him against charges of incompetence. How about the people at A.N.S.W.E.R. who think that N. Korea is better governed, and better for world pwace, than the U.S.? Or the people who still think that the Khmer Rouge were not murderers until they had been attacked by the U.S. Such people continue to think that the U.S. is a fundamentally negative influence in the world.

I don't know how many such extreme leftists there are, but "all but dead" is not accurate.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 4, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

No one wants to learn anything anymore. It's all about confirming and expanding the reach of what you think you already know.

That's about it.

Posted by: fiat lux on March 4, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Potemkin Issue, anyone?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Political activity is not on a continuum between right and left (does anybody know where that came from anyway?)

France.

Posted by: DonBoy on March 4, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

My political frame of reference is different. It's Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America;

You do live in California. And which, exactly, of the ten items in the Contract with America did you positively dislike?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 4, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein did a follow up on the piece titled "Right-Wing Extremists".

It's a one line link to Ann Coulter's CPAC screed.

Yes, it's nice he recognizes Ann Coulter is an extremist, but he equates Atrios with her in that sense, and seems to balk at any sort of extended explanation of such while he was all too damn willing to go on a screed about left-wing extremists, virtually all of whom have no real political and media power.

Posted by: Kryptik on March 4, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein wrote:

A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes: . . . believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not an individual case of monumental stupidity, but a consequence of America’s fundamental imperialistic nature.
I don't know if America is "fundamentally imperialistic," but neither was the war in Iraq the only example of a foreign war or interference that, rather than served to protect America from attack, served to promote a private economic or political interest. If you want to call that "imperialistic" that's fine with me. Examples:
  • The Spanish-American War, 1898, on the false pretext that the Spanish were responsible for the Maine explosion
  • CIA overthrow of Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953
  • U.S. involvement in the overthrow of Chile's democratically elected President Allende in 1973, leading to the profoundly illiberal regime of Pinochet
I could list dozens and dozens of additional examples of (gasp) American imperialist misadventures, which demolishes Klein's suggestion that only a left wing extremist would reject the idea that the Rove-Cheney-Bush mis-Administration's mis-adventure in Iraq is a mere "individual case."
 

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 4, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I would point out that Klein discovering trolling is not all that interesting a story. I believe the next step is sock puppetry.

Posted by: jhe on March 4, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm inclined to think that no productive conversation will be possible with Klein until he learns to drop the smug and dismissive pose of the tenured elite pundit. (There haven't been any really negative consequences for him from anything he's gotten badly wrong, right? Well, that must mean he's gotten everything right, and anybody who disagrees with him is wrong!)

In the last week or so, we've already seen some ebidence that he might be going through some of the growing pains of giving up that non-responsive smugness--e.g., his exchange with the non-wanker Klein--so maybe there's hope for him yet. But in the meantime, what's the point of trying to change the mind if someone so self-satisfied in what he knows he knows?

Posted by: Scott E. on March 4, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Klein's got it right. Millions of Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan after the disastrous decade of the 1960's when leftists tore the country apart and when race riots rocked US cities, pot-head students sat in at universities and their teachers left their classrooms to march in the streets. While Reagan was applying the pressure on the USSR which resulted in the disappearance of that tyranny, liberals attacked Reagan as a war-monger and "peace-lovers" demonstrated world-wide and in the US. Reagan won the Cold War. Liberals have that same defeatist attitude now- they blamed the US for 9/11 and now they attack the US military and not the religious fanatics in Iraq for the killings of innocent civilians that occur there every day. Democrats want a US surrender in Iraq but they lack the political courage to withdraw its funding. The reason you liberals can't identify the "extremists" among you is that the extremists are now the leaders of the party, Pelosi, Murtha, Dean, Kerry et al. I was a Democrat for years and the only real Democrat around today is Joe Lieberman. I voted for Carter and Mondale and Dukakis and Clinton- man, was I wrong.

Posted by: m on March 4, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say that Joe Klein is suffering the following phenomema:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his SALARY depends on his NOT UNDERSTANDING IT." - Upton Sinclair

Joe Klein has his bully pulpit because he is so good at bashing Democrats, why would he put that to risk by looking at reality?

Nevertheless, I for one am tired of his incessant good-will for the authentic Bush while constantly seeing only hypocrisy on the part of the inauthentic Democrats like John Kerry. IMO, he's not worth trying to talking to.

Posted by: Mary on March 4, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you are giving far too much credence to poor Joe's "scars"; his positions have, in my opinion, little to do with actual ideology, and everything to do with pragmatism and good old-fashioned careerism.

Those swingin' dead cats would have to fly further and do their centrifugal best to find a bona fide "Leftie" (to hell with "socialist"!) in the D.C. Beltway. Along comes a careerist pundit, who realizes that the period when he "came up" simply had an influence on him that he can't shake. It precludes his having become a rabid right-winger, or being able to to play the part effectively. Despite the obvious marketability of such a political bent, in mainstream punditry.

But Joe was not born content to be a byline, at best. He wants to be the Brad Pitt of his world. He wants nothing less than to be the face of TIME, and all over Sunday morning TV like a rash. Thus, to be accepted among the power elite of Washington, Klein must necessarily find ways to sup with AEI fellows and Federalist Society types. He must also do a precarious balancing act of achieving print space, TV face time, and celebrity, in a field dominated by the right.

And with red meat conservative pundits a dime a dozen anyway, what better character to create, than that of a token, nominal "liberal", upon whom they can count to accede to the Republican narratives about liberal inadequacy, and bash all the people the right-leaning pundits bash? Bill Clinton had a zipper problem. Liberals are "extremists". You can just hear the sighs of approval from Frank Luntz and Karl Rove. And Chris Matthews. And Tim Russert. Can we book you next week, too?

Bonus: much like the "Oreo cookie" in racial conflict, the power elite can shine a Klieg light on Joe Klein, turn on the red light and go, "Look! A 'GOOD" liberal! We don't mind talking to HIM, because he represents MAINSTREAM LIBERALS!"

And of course, this brands his Republican-friendly narratives as being from the bosom of Liberal America. Effectively, using up the parking space grudgingly reserved for the actual liberal point of view (or, God forbid, that of the serious Left). Fiendish.

But, in the immortal words of Mel Brooks in "High Anxiety", it provides "... 'a nice living'!"

Posted by: Barry Champlain on March 4, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

John Dean wrote a wonderful book "Conservatives Without Conscience"
Glenn Greenwald summarized this back on 7/23/06:
'Dean contends, and amply documents, that the "conservative" movement has become, at its core, an authoritarian movement composed of those with a psychological and emotional need to follow a strong authority figure which provides them a sense of moral clarity and a feeling of individual power, the absence of which creates fear and insecurity in the individuals who crave it. By definition, its followers' devotion to authority and the movement's own power is supreme, thereby overriding the consciences of its individual members and removing any intellectual and moral limits on what will be justified in defense of their movement.

Dean relies on substantial social science data to illustrate the personality type that seeks out authoritarian movements. But his case is made much more persuasively by what one can visibly see unfolding before one's own eyes.

As Iraq collapses into all-out civil war and new, tragic levels of violence, Bush supporters continue to insist that things are going well there and our invasion was a success. As the Middle East spirals into all-out regional war, Bush supporters insist that this repulsive violence is actually good for the region -- wars are encouraging "birth pangs" on the road to progress, as the Secretary of State put it yesterday -- and they are now actively involving the U.S. in this escalated conflict, even while Iraq rapidly falls apart.'

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Reagan won the Cold War.

The Airmen and Officers of SAC will be shocked to learn this.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Joel, spot on comment.

One of Klein's sillier statements that I heard (and wrote about) was when he was opining on KQED's Forum:

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.

Posted by: Mary on March 4, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin I agree with you on almost everything you write in this post. I would add that pundits like Klein, who rail against the mythical "socialist" left, ignore the fact that the political spectrum has gotten skewed so far to the right that anyone just slightly to the left of George Will is framed as a "liberal", for Chrissake. I even watched a talking heads show where Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal was characterized as balancing out the hard right views of Fred Barnes. If FoxNews really was "fair and balanced", they would have a representative from the American Communist Party on to offset Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter's neofascist views.

Click here for a nice clip of Klein getting dressed down for his illiberal views.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on March 4, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, it's like reading something from Bill O'Reilly. And it's not as though all of those claims which 'liberals' supposedly make are even unfair assertions, so long as they are backed up by something rational, and neutral language is used (ugh... 'evil' is so Fox News).

If anything, Klein is stoking the ideological fire by making such claims.

Posted by: Everblue Stater on March 4, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

as we observed over at skippy's place this morning:

"bottom line, most corporate media hacks are perry como and dean martin to atrios’ beatles and skippy's traffic. joe thinks he’s cool because he’s got a blog. but the kids think he’s pat boone. give him a couple of years and he’ll be putting out a disco lp."

Posted by: Pudentilla on March 4, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe discussion of the past 30+ years of the issues driving American politics and separating liberals and conservatives and the word "abortion" wasn't mentioned once

Posted by: Amdy on March 4, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I guess you could consider me a left wing extremist, since I would fight and die for that most liberal of documents, the Constitution of the United states.

As to my temperament?

Well, one tends to get just a little cranky and pitch the niceties when on has been absolutely right about absolutely everything for six fucking years.

And what did we get for being right? We had general threats made against our safety, our patriotism questioned. We have been mocked and ridiculed. All for the egregious affront of being thoughtful, deliberative, careful and right.

Fuck yes we are angry.

Who the hell wouldn't be? (try being right some time and maybe you will understand.)

Get over it. Grow a callous on that thin skin, whiff the smelling salts, and deal, for fucks sake.

We are all grownups and we have known those words since 4th grade, so don't act like their infliction on your virgin ears will just up and give you the vapors!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

"bottom line, most corporate media hacks are perry como and dean martin to atrios’ beatles and skippy's traffic. joe thinks he’s cool because he’s got a blog. but the kids think he’s pat boone. give him a couple of years and he’ll be putting out a disco lp."

Okay - I get to be Michelle Shocked.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Klein is using the busing in Boston as his main example of how extremist 'liberals' 'refuse to accept the complexity of reality', but it's altogether unclear to me how he derives that point from that example. It's not just that he's using an example from decades ago (and in a completely different political environment), but I'm not sure it means what he thinks it means.

What would someone fully 'accepting of the complexities of reality' suggest be done about the segregation of education in Boston? Ignore it? Or try something to fix it, knowing that nothing will work overnight and every option has flaws? I don't think that the people behind the busing that Klein sees as unrealistic liberalism were as naive or as unrealistic as he seems to believe.

Rather, I think it is Klein who finds it easier to deny the complexities of reality, clinging to an imagined 'centrist' moderation between phantasmagorical 'extremist' positions of his own creation.

Posted by: biggerbox on March 4, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

On the whole, I think Joe Klein pretty much nailed it.

I especially like his qualification at the outset.

Lack of qualification is a major indice of extremism, left or right. This seems a subtext of most of his points and rightfully so. To the extremist it's "my way or no way." Always.

Is his critique all-encompassing? Of course not. He's not writing a book on the subject and makes that plain, too. (Perhaps he should expand his thinking into a new book. Each of his interesting points probably could be a chapter in and of itself.)

As for Klein being old-fashioned, I think not -- not any more than many accomplished people who have observed much, listened, thought deeply, occasionally changed their minds and, in general, matured.

A word:

Changing your mind once in awhile is important and it is something with which extremists have little experience. And young folks.

Posted by: tom t on March 4, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

According to Joe Klein the most dangerous figures on American political scene are Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, people without much power.

He is not worried about Bush, Cheney, Scalia.....people with real power who are doing real damage to the country.

Kevin Drum makes an interesting argument about the generational aspect of this. Most liberal columnists/bloggers I like are in their 20s, 30s and early 40s. I can't relate to the Richard Cohens of punditry who are obsessed with busing and hippies. It is like they are stuck in a time warp.

Posted by: Nan on March 4, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think this analysis really rings a bell.

It's one reason I am fairly excited about Obama. He seems presidential and he isn't a boomer. Frankly I am sick of 60s feuds coloring our political races today.

Somehow the fact that Obama tried this or that twenty years ago is not relevant to anybody...even though the fact that Clinton hedged on whether he had doobies twenty-five years in the past did really bug a lot of people. Yes, it did. His indulgence was interpreted as his pronouncement that he was no square, and boy did a whole bunch of squares hate that.

Sorry Boomers. You blazed the way for many many issues and just now we are reaping the harvest - witness the growing support among us young 'uns for gay marriage. Time for you to get out of the way. Declare victory and go home!

Love, Young 'uns

Posted by: BoulderDuck on March 4, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

As I sem to fall in the gap between Klein and Drum, I offer my self as a bridge.

However, I feel impelled to point out that the necessary evil of busing arose from a far greater and incidious evil that Klein seems to have forgotten.

Equally, as shown by your previous post re creative charts, the present administration points up its inherent evil that is far more dangerous than incompetence alone, although it has that, too -- a disastrous combination. There is a deliberate campaign to advance an agenda as far below the political radar and in secret as possible. This is not how democracy works.

Also, the US has been marching slowly but surely to the right the last 30 years, becoming ever richer in total but with less inclination to deal with disadvantage or social immobility.

Klein is looking through his privilige-tinted glasses without, it seems, a clear understanding of what he speaks.

Oh, and I have never yet met a real US socialist although I have met a few that have said some pretty fascistic things.

Posted by: notthere on March 4, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

"I even watched a talking heads show where Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal was characterized as balancing out the hard right views of Fred Barnes."

This is the world Joe Klein lives in.

In Joe Klein's view Atrios "balances" Ann Coulter. The fact that Atrios has mainstream views and does not advocate violence against those he disagrees with means little to Klein.

Sunday gasbag shows routinely pair foaming at the mouth right wing partisans with objective, non ideological journalists and call it "balance".

It is not unusual to see David Broder "balancing" Bob Novak.

It is a twisted view of the world and Joe Klein is a product of this Media Establishment.

Posted by: Nan on March 4, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, is it really beyond the pale to support school desegregation now?

Posted by: Tom on March 4, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, left-wing viciousness isn't quite as passe as Drum or Klein thinks. Nationally, it's been awhile but don't forget the bad old days of college-campus PC which didn't really start to fall from grace until the early 90s. And the stuff going on was even loonier than the Clinton scandals and more personally insulting. Take the multiple-personality/Satanic Ritual Absue hysteria which was fostered by a nefarious coalition of feminists, Freudians and born-again Christains. It actually used to be taught in some college classes by feminist professors that there was a national epidemic of incest (according to the book "The Courage to Heal" 50% of all women had been sexually assaulted by a close relative) which was causing millions of women to lead a Sybil-like or worse existence. Some were, unbeknownst to their own selves, members Satanic cults engaging in human sacrifice and such. And you thought the Vincent Foster conspiracy theorists were nuts. The price for openly doubting this story was to be accused to siding with the mostly non-existent abusers (Kinsey put the incest rate at a far more believeable 2% w/o bringing in devotees of Lucifer). That's an exceptionally gaudy but hardly isolated example of feminist delusional belligerence. Imaging being a straight male and being expected to swallow this stuff and being chastized for not doing so. That'll leave a mark.

Then there was the Tawana Brawley fiasco led by Al Sharpton, whose 2004 presidential campaign was bought and paid for by Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone. He we had another preposterous rape story, which, if you understandably didn't believe it, would get you accused of racism (a grand jury found that Brawley had made the story up to keep from being punished by her disgustingly abusive parents).

Being accused of racism and approving of sexual assault against women was far more offensive than anything levelled against those who found the chargers against the Clintons dubious. People would think you were a reality-denying jerk but they wouldn't accuse you of approving the murder of Vincent Foster. During the run-up to the war in Iraq a lot of us were offended by accusations of being part of a fifth column or objectively pro-Saddam but those were a minority and there were plenty of people on our side who were together on the idea that the accusaions were unfair. Standing up to the PC onslaught of chracter assassination was, at that time, a far more brutal and lonely affair.

I tell you in those days the PC police were driving millions of white straight males and a not insubstanial percentage of women into the arms of Rush Limbaugh. It was ghastly. And that's why the period continues, for some of us, to have so much power.

Put succinctly, the left was guilty of some serious witch hunts and has never taken reponsibility for them. The left, like the right, has been a member of the reality-based community inconsistently. It is still paying the price for those past errors and a lot of younger people who don't remember them don't realize why this is and nobody on the left is telling them. Neither is anyone on the right, the bastards.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on March 4, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Pudentilla--good summary at Skippy's.
Well said.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"While Reagan was applying the pressure on the USSR which resulted in the disappearance of that tyranny,"

This Fairy tale never goes away.

Mike Gorbachev ended the "Cold War," by ending the U.S.S.R.

The best you can say about Reagan was that he gave Gorbachev some political cover to do the right thing.

Wingers insist that all good things come from their heros, regardless of the facts.


Posted by: Joey on March 4, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I much prefer Clinton’s sexual escapade with a consenting adult, over bush’s intercourse with the entire nation.

Posted by: Richard W. Crews on March 4, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm older than Klein, went to a prestigious East Coast women's college, and worked on Wall Street.

I have no idea what Klein could be thinking. I loved the 60s and 70s, and although I thought the extremists were nuts, I was quite relaxed about the fact that they would disappear soon enough, as they did.

There is no left any more. The political spectrum ranges from extreme right to a hair's breath to the left of center. Today's right wing extremists will not go gracefully into the night as did the lefty ones of the 60s and 70s. They have tasted power and will take it back by force if need be.

Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 4, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

Be reasonable.

The charges against modern conservatives are much worse than the ones you cite:

- exploding the Federal Budget deficit

- invading Iraq on a pretext, then botching the aftermath completely, ignoring all information (from their own CIA officers no less) that it was going wrong

- invading Afghanistan and forgetting about it, so that there too, we are now teetering on the brink of defeat (if Iraq is Vietnam 1968, Afghanistan is Vietnam 1962 or 63)

- fomenting another war with Iran that will tear the middle east into 1000 pieces

- forgetting completely about the Palestinians, as an inconvenience, and allowing the Israelis to build a wall outside the 1967 frontiers, thus guaranteeing Israeli occupation of large chunks of the West Bank forever

- ignoring the warnings of their own intelligence and counterterrorism people, and taking no tangible actions before 9-11 to prevent it taking place (whereas by contrast, after the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassy bombings, and the attempted New Years eve attack on LAX, the Clinton Administration was obsessed with terrorism)

- ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence for man-made global warming, and refusing to cooperate internationally to do anything about it

- consciously deemphasising agreements towards greater nuclear disarmament and control of nuclear weapons with Russia, the only power on the planet that could still destroy the US in one attack, and could do so entirely by mistake

- sowing the seeds of a space-based nuclear arms race with China, in pursuit of a ballistic missile defence system that no impartial expert believes is now working, and many doubt can ever be made to work.

Every major threat to the security and future of the US of A and the western world, the current regime and its supporters have failed to guard American security or the future of its people.

Posted by: Valuethinker on March 4, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Look! I, a ragin' Leftie, said something in previous post without fuckin' swearing!

BTW, Ken Starr is the biggest Internet pornographer that I know of. He certainly set many a prissy, and proven hypocritical, Republican netherlands a'twitter.

Posted by: Richard W. Crews on March 4, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my, Hieronymus Braintree--"The Courage to Heal" is quite well regarded
in psychiatric recovery circles, and I cannot believe that you cite it as cultist.
As one who has conducted cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with wide numbers of
sexually abused women for years ----I say you are way off base
with your contentions here.
Sexual abuse is a fact of life, and not some notion of feminist professors.
You may well be out of your league here.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really see what's wrong with name-calling. As someone who grew up with the "excesses" of liberalism ("bussing", as in, I was bussed, a convoluted 19-mile ride) and the "excesses" of reactionary conservatives (as in, the KKK, complete with cross-burning, David Duke, and a botched attempt to start a riot at our high school -- and the remark I recall, "my daddy's voting for Wallace because he'll kill all the n****rs if he has to"), I think I know what excesses I prefer. Klein ought to know better, and if he doesn't, then I think it's fair to call it "wanking" when he puts pen to paper.

As far as bussing in Boston goes, the interesting question for me is why did people up here go so apeshit, when it went without any hitches that I could perceive where I grew up. (My wife reports it going not nearly so well for her in Tampa.) It looks much more to me like crazy people in Boston, than a liberal excess.

(And has Joe Klein ever even seen a water fountain marked "whites only?" Has he ever seen a cross burning? Has he ever seen a place where the KKK had enough of a presence to set up a bookstore? Has he ever lived someplace where there was still a section of town that was supposed to be haunted by a black guy who was lynched there? Has he ever lived in a town in the South that had, for some mysterious reasons, ZERO black residents? Has this man not even got the slightest hint of a fucking clue, or any idea how the "other side" operated back in the Jim Crow days?)

I'd say that "wanker" is downright polite.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 4, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Consider Ward Churchill and his comments on the people who worked in the WTC. And the people who backed him for tenure and defended him against charges of incompetence. How about the people at A.N.S.W.E.R. who think that N. Korea is better governed, and better for world pwace, than the U.S.? Or the people who still think that the Khmer Rouge were not murderers until they had been attacked by the U.S. Such people continue to think that the U.S. is a fundamentally negative influence in the world."

That and all the other examples of lefty extremism that have been mentioned in the comments are truly the exceptions that prove the rule. People who look for extremists on the left have to go to such lengths as to dredge up Ward Churchill, whereas we could all point to many R members of Congress for right wing extremists, not to mention several well known think tanks, just for starters.

Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 4, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I (and most of the liberal blogosphere, I assume) think that Klein is living in the past. He just hasn't completely internalized the vast changes of the past decade: namely that right-wing extremism is now light years more dangerous than any chimerical revival of the New Left."

I don't know about the liberal blogosphere, but I don't assume that at all. I assume Klein is that guy at a social event, in a group of 4, who hears one person say "well, you know, the fact of the matter is, statistics just plain show that poor people are lazy and stupid" and then joins the other 3 in politely nodding and saying nothing, rather than taking it on. Because the champagne at this cocktail party is higher-end, and you're more likely to show up in the society column if you're at this party. Maybe if he engages that ridiculous statement on its merits, he'll even become a favored guest.

Don't make this debate more complicated than it is.

Posted by: KPatrick on March 4, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

You make Kevin's argument for him, Hieronymus. You have to go back 10 & 20 years for pure arcana as your examples. The point -- since you've obviously missed it -- is that right-wing viciousness is central to today's Republican establishment, and the figures that don't actively participate in the viciousness benefit directly from it. Please explain how Al Sharpton & "a nefarious coalition of feminists, Freudians and born-again Christians" is in any way representative of the American Left.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 4, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Failure to edit myself: by "engages" I meant "follows up on it like it makes SOME sense." My comment makes no sense if you don't know that. Although in a world where Ann Coulter is a millionaire, I'm not sure I should care about making sense in a comments thread.

Posted by: KPatrick on March 4, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

So, according to Klein, fighting against segregation is extreme?

Klein isn't conservative, much less liberal; he's through and through a fascist punk. He should be honest with himself and just shave the few remaining strands of his hair off.

Posted by: Disputo on March 4, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Ken Starr, no decent, honorable individual would have accepted the job of directing a multi-million dollar, taxpayer-supported investigation and smear of the President of the United States. Only someone indecent, dishonorable and promised a deanship at a private college situated with a grand view of the Pacific Ocean and a really great climate would agree to carry out such a task.

By the by, lest we forget, his investigation exonorated the President but the smear stuck around awhile and he got the deanship.

Talk about 30 pieces of silver . . .

Posted by: jeremy on March 4, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"m" at 3:03 said Liberals have that same defeatist attitude now- they blamed the US for 9/11...

How can we have a serious discussion with people who think Jerry Falwell is a liberal?

Posted by: Emily on March 4, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Consider Ward Churchill and his comments on the people who worked in the WTC. ... How about the people at A.N.S.W.E.R. who think that N. Korea is better governed

When these people represent a political force in the United States and end up getting a syndicated column, I might be interested. These aren't the people Joe Klein is arguing against. He's arguing against atrios, kos, and those of us who think he's not a very well informed or smart political pundit... and he's calling us political extremists.

Posted by: Constantine on March 4, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

i agree about conservatives filling the think tanks. That overly pious rhetoric spouting right wing extremist poster boy and Pennsylvania's former republican senator Rick Santorum joined the Ethics and Public Policy Center in D.C. which describes itself as "dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy."
If that isn't frightening. Santorum and his preaching that women worked outside the home as some sort of feminist notion and not for any economic need, and if we'd budget better, we could stay home where we belong. And that was just one scary thought this thinker had.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

He's arguing against atrios, kos,

Good lawd. If moderates like atrios and markos represent the fringe, then we are all doomed.

Posted by: Disputo on March 4, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

There are liberal extremists, and the only reason they are less prominent than conservative extremists is because liberalism is a less popular philosophy than conservatism. If there are less liberals than conservatives, there will be less liberal extremists than there are conservative extremists.

Liberal extremists, however, do have significant power in politics, and, like conservative extremists, they wish to impose their view on others. Just as there are Christians who want to eliminate atheism, there are atheists that want to eliminate Christianity. Just as there are neoconservatives who want to conquer the world, there are liberals who want to surrender American sovereignty to the U.N.

Radicalism appears in every ideology, and it is beneficial to the Republicans that radical liberals enjoy the power that they do in the Democratic Party; it helps Republicans win elections.

Posted by: brian on March 4, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Living in the South where grown men use "women's libber" in public without embarrassment, I can relate to Klein's list. The issues to the far right are integrally connected to the 60s and 70s - repealing everything that happened in those years. The left on the other hand has moved on to other issues. The right has to reject the idea of global warming because it wasn't an issue for Reagan.

Posted by: ml on March 4, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading Klien since he started blogging on TIME (not long i know) and he personifies the media left wing like Joe Lieberman personifies the Democratic party.
He is openly bileous in his disdain for most of the disagreeing replies he receives on his blog.
If only those insane fringe liberal lefties would just understand him somehow,all will be fine.

Posted by: Albert on March 4, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

brian:

"Liberal extremists, however, do have significant power in politics, and, like conservative extremists, they wish to impose their view on others. Just as there are Christians who want to eliminate atheism, there are atheists that want to eliminate Christianity. Just as there are neoconservatives who want to conquer the world, there are liberals who want to surrender American sovereignty to the U.N."

Name the liberal extremist whose political power & influence rivals that of James Dobson -- that of Jerry Falwell -- that of Dick Cheney -- that of Rush Limbaugh -- that of Sean Hannity & Bill O'Reilly (for that matter identify the liberal network that rivals the scope & influence of Fox News) -- that of Newt Gingrich... or whose power & influence rivaled that of then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay & his co-conspirator, Jack Abramoff. Name those influential liberals -- hell, ANY liberals -- who want to surrender American sovereignty to the United Nations -- or anyone else, for that matter.

You won't, and you won't because you can't.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 4, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Klein's references are dated not because of his age, but because, when confronted and forced in a corner, he could not come up with any recent examples that could reasonably justify his blatant anti-progressive and anti-Democratic Party bias.

Posted by: gregor on March 4, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal extremists, however, do have significant power in politics,

Be specific. Provide names of these "liberal extremist" pundits and politicians who have significant power.

Posted by: Constantine on March 4, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

So, if somebody even older than Klein starts sweating about today's liberals because of his fear of the Wobblies, should we give a damn?

Posted by: Quiddity on March 4, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberal extremists, however, do have significant power in politics, and, like conservative extremists, they wish to impose their view on others.

Could you point to just one of these powerful liberals? I recall the last 12 years quite differently, culminating with Democrats being denied meeting rooms and no being informed of meetings of committees on which they held seats. I recall a systematic effort by a criminal cabal headed by Abramoff and Delay to subvert law and order and permanently disenfranchise the elected representation of half of the American electorate.

Just as there are Christians who want to eliminate atheism, there are atheists that want to eliminate Christianity.

As that would require eliminating the Christians, and the wholesale slaughter of any group of people is, apparently more abhorrent to us than it is to our religious brethren, your assertion is invalid.

Just as there are neoconservatives who want to conquer the world, there are liberals who want to surrender American sovereignty to the U.N.

Please back up this assertion. Point to one prominent liberal that advocates such an action.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm a little older than Klein. But I grew up in the part of Texas that was Southern in culture, so segregation was really important. The KKK was still quite active in all of East Texas through the 1950's.

I graduated from a segregated all-white High School in 1961, and the court cases were only just beginning to effect our city. We had an all-Black high school in the Southern part, and the all-white High school was in the effective center of the city.

To avoid bussing, they shut down the all-white high school and opened a new high school on the mostly white and affluent west side of town.

It is my conclusion that while Bussing itself was not too useful outside the South, it forced voters to face segregation and change things. Again, Klein is probably correct that the Boston bussing had relatively little effect on segregation in Boston, it gave the voters nation-wide the understanding that integration was the law of all the U.S., and if cities were to avoid the threat of having the federal government come in and force some really expensive and generally (outside the deep south) unnecessary changes, then the locals better get their *sses in gear and do something about the problem.

Just like eliminating slavery, there was very little room for centrists in the effort to dismantle the segregation laws. (People should not forget that South Africa copied the South Carolina segregation laws in 1948 and called their system Apartheid. Legal Segregation was TOXIC! Only comparisons to slavery made it appear acceptable.)

It took a nation-wide and relatively severe set of actions to dismantle segregation, and the job isn't finished yet. Getting the movement towards a race-neutral America was no place for centrists. Any actions that did not strongly tilt towards desegregation would never be effective, as was demonstrated during the decade from 1954 to 1964.

Busing was taking a sledge-hammer to the problem, but sometimes when the old plumbing system can't be dismantled with wrenched, you have to tear it down with hammers and saws. The destruction is immediate, the benefits do not appear for a long time after. Joe rather clearly does not have the soul of a historian, where cold knowledge of the past overcomes the emotional ties that developed in the heat of the bussing controversy. As I said, centrists could not have eliminated segregation.

Just as today, destroying all the destructive elements of right-wing authoritarianism that have been emplaced in the last 40 years will be no place for "centrists." What is the center position between democracy and authoritarianism (or worse, right-wing theocratic authoritarianism?)

The only way to be a centrist between democracy and right-wing authoritarianism is to watch passively and silently as authoritarian measures slowly destroy democratic traditions and say "It's not so bad. The Authoritarians are only halfway destroying Democracy." And that's just today. Tomorrow the centrists will let them come back and again half-way destroy what remains of Democracy. The RWA's have to be stopped and rolled back, which is not a centrist option.

[Go read Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians. It's all on the internet now.]

Posted by: Rick B on March 4, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal extremists, however, do have significant power in politics, and, like conservative extremists, they wish to impose their view on others.

Who are they? What important political organizations do they control? Which TV networks do their spokesmen appear on? Which popular national magazines do they appear in? How many columnists in important newspapers support their their views? Can you please provide some evidence that these people exist in the real world?

Just as there are Christians who want to eliminate atheism, there are atheists that want to eliminate Christianity.

Please name a member of congress or a prominent party leader who espouses this view. Which governor in which states are proposing laws to this effect? Which state legislatures feature strong factions attempting to eliminate Christianity?

Just as there are neoconservatives who want to conquer the world, there are liberals who want to surrender American sovereignty to the U.N.

I try to keep up on a wide selection of political news and opinion outlets, and I have never seen this position advocated anywhere. Where have you seen it advocated?

We have given up our national soveriegnty in some areas, but not to the UN. We have instead signed it away in international trade agreements, so foreign governments can attack our safety regulations, environmental laws, and laws to protect businessmen and investors. In theory, you may soon have the same chance of being poisoned by bad food as anyone from Latin American, or the same chance of being maimed in an industrial accident or cheated by stock fraud or copyright infringment as someone in China or Indonesia. You might want to check up on that.

Posted by: Berken on March 4, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK
beginning with the liberal attempt to impose court-ordered school busing to achieve integration in Boston in the 1970's

The most notorious incident in the Boston bussing uproar was when some white anti-busing protestors came across a black lawyer who happened to walk nearby them outside the statehouse. One of the protesters took the flagpole he was holding and used it to beat this bystander so severely he needed to be hospitalized. That Klein can look at this and say that this turned him off to "liberal extremists" demonstrates that he simply exists in a moral void.

Posted by: Constantine on March 4, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I am possibly from Klein's generation (possibly a bit older). I personally agree with the assessment the left blogosphere has made of Klein. He's a wanker. I base that on whenever I read what he writes or see him on TV, he doesn't even remotely relate to me or the times we come from. I mostly ignore him now. I do not believe the 60s and 70s were so radical that we were whackos like those on the right today; but, I probably see it differently because of my gender. I gained so much more from it than he. There were some serious inequalities that were part of the culture at that time--not only the less than human treatment of blacks, not only Viet Nam; but, spousal abuse, sexual harassment, incest, etc. How could we have changed those insidious inequities without the radical tactics of the left? I guess I see that what most people who complain about the 60s and 70s politics just don't understand the times because they weren't there. Klein just seems to me to be too comfortable with his very cushy job that probably could be taken away from him if he actually took a strong stand on anything.

Posted by: Mazurka on March 4, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Socialists are very much alive and well. They inhabit the Democratic leadership positions, the NEA, most of academia outside the hard science disciplines, and the media. IOW, the elites of this country, many of whom are Klein's generation and who haven't grown up because it is a characteristic of Boomers that they are permanent juveniles.

Posted by: Corlyss on March 4, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Socialists are very much alive and well. They inhabit the Democratic leadership positions, the NEA, most of academia outside the hard science disciplines, and the media. IOW, the elites of this country, many of whom are Klein's generation and who haven't grown up because it is a characteristic of Boomers that they are permanent juveniles.

As before, please provide names of people, their strength in these organizations, and evidence that any socialists you name have any influence on our national politics.

This is your big chance to win some people over. You just have to go the next step. This should not be a tough question.

Posted by: Berken on March 4, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's intellectually much easier just to say both extremes are equally bad, and therefore the middle is the place to be. While much of what you say about Klein has some truth in it, Klein, like many mainstream pundits, has always struck me as being an intellectually lazy writer who prefers striking poses rather than doing any real heavy lifting. Also, Klein and his class have been massive beneficiaries of many of the economic changes the left deplores (it would be interesting to compare what a writer like Klein would have made in 1974 versus today), and so it seems reasonable that at least a few columnists deep down don't find the right's hard economic policies to be that extreme. If you're at Klein's economic level, cutting upper tax rates, taxes on investment income and eliminating the estate tax may sound like really good ideas while what impact would say privatizing Social Security have on you or just about anyone you know.

Posted by: Guscat on March 4, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I think I am right that Klein needed a quick piece to publish. He said this once--I just found it:

"To which I can only say, what security? Speaking for myself--and you can check it with my colleagues and bosses--I'm terrified each week when it comes to column-writing time. Need to be sure I haven't made any mistakes or taken intellectual short-cuts, need to be sure I'm saying something sorta new, need to be sure I haven't let my anger get the better of me...One of my first editors, in the underground press in Boston around the dawn of time, said: "You're only as good as your last column." He was joking, I think, but...I'm still biting my toes each week waiting to see if the editor likes it or not. (And if you want some real serious insecurity, try having a piece fact-checked and copy-edited at the New Yorker.)"

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's intellectually much easier just to say both extremes are equally bad, and therefore the middle is the place to be.

Joe Klein is the sort of centrist that, when one side argues that 2+2=4 and the other side claims that 2+2=6, decides that the correct solution is 2+2=5. And if both sides are angry at him for being wrong, well that just proves how right he is!

Also, Klein and his class have been massive beneficiaries of many of the economic changes the left deplores

True. Plus, they have been insulated from a lot of the economic changes that have hurt many Americans. Newspapers would benefit from outsourcing their Op-Ed pages. There's nothing Klein or Friedman can write that couldn't be written by someone in China or India for a fraction of the cost. Then maybe columnists would have a better perspective on the economics of labor.

Posted by: Constantine on March 4, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Socialists are very much alive and well. They inhabit the Democratic leadership positions, the NEA, most of academia outside the hard science disciplines, and the media. IOW, the elites of this country, many of whom are Klein's generation and who haven't grown up because it is a characteristic of Boomers that they are permanent juveniles.

Please point out these *socialists* of which you speak.

I am in academia, with friends in all departments and know no socialists. I can't think of any socialists I might have known in the last decade.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, what's wrong with being socialist? Stalinists and other sort of authoritarians should of course be excluded from the political discourse, but anyone who advocates more egalitarian economic polices should not be automatically disqualified.

One of the reasons the progressives have lost ground is the decimation of people with more radical views to their left. So with no one to the left of them, it has become their geographical fait accompli to be prtrayed as extremists by the likes of Klein.

Posted by: gregor on March 4, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I came of age in the late 90's, early 00's. So for me, it's all "I did not have "sex" with that young woman," and lieing to grand jurys and what the meaning of 'is' is and the Clintonistas trashing the white house and taking all the Ws off keyboards, its Hillary throwing a vase at Clinton in a spat...

And then, more ominently, it's 9-11: those beautiful buildings being destroyed by a bunch of tinhorn terrorists, its Kerry flip flopping and "Sgt Cpl Kerry reporting for duty, Cap'n!" and Algore inventing the internets, its Democrats mendaciously using the levers of governance for political gains while undermining the war and the survival of Western civilization...

Kinda puts a different spin on it, doesn't it, Kevin?

Posted by: egbert on March 4, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Corlyss:

"Socialists are very much alive and well. They inhabit the Democratic leadership positions, the NEA, most of academia outside the hard science disciplines, and the media."

You have absolutely no idea what that term means.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 4, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

I hope those of you who utter the word Socialism like invective have never used a public library for research...Or cheered for the Green Bay Packers.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Klein is a weasel and a complete fucking idiot.

He makes lists of characteristics of liberal extremists that apply to no one and compares:

- the 30 year-old, long-dead busing issue (busing! lololololol)

vs.

- the ongoing Republican looting of trillions of dollars from the public Treasury by means of the Supply-Side Hoax AND starting a disastrous and expensive war under false pretences.

Wow. If you can see moral equivalence in that picture you can see it anywhere. What's worse is there are many, many more ongoing egregious offenses that can be aded to the Republican side (see the New York Times' recent editorial, "The Must-Do List" for starters).

Klein is absolutely pathetic and deserves no respect.

Posted by: The Fool on March 4, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

egbert:

"Kinda puts a different spin on it, doesn't it, Kevin?"

If by "different spin" you mean a jarringly stupid equivalence and making up words like "ominently," then, yes, that certainly is a different spin.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 4, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about the Bubble, Kevin. Joe, the rest of the MSM, the DLC, and all the rest of the beltway folks are in this self-referential frame that doesn't involve actual people.

The internets are very disruptive. They keep whacking at the bubble. This makes Joe nervous.

I honestly don't think it's generational. It's more complicated than that. There's a courtier class that's arisen in DC, and Joe is part of that class. Stuff is done for show, and the kewl kids are in on the show. In fact, knowing what's behind the curtain is the definition of being a kewl kid.

It's interesting that this stuff on swampland is happening at the same time as the libby trial, where it is being made very clear that the washington media doesn't really credit this journalism thing all that much. You know, sources telling the truth on the record.

Posted by: jayackroyd on March 4, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

So for me, it's all "I did not have "sex" with that young woman,"

You conveniently omit the indiscretions of Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston and Newt Gingrich.

the Clintonistas trashing the white house and taking all the Ws off keyboards,

I'm pretty sure that's nothing more than urban legend.

it's 9-11: those beautiful buildings being destroyed by a bunch of tinhorn terrorists

Yet your president was the one who ignored the August 6 Daily Briefing that warned that bin Laden was determined to strike in the US with an "okay you've covered your ass now."

its Kerry flip flopping and "Sgt Cpl Kerry reporting for duty, Cap'n!"

It is Lt. Kerry, and do not dismiss the sacrifice and service of one who went when Bush and Cheney are both feckless draft dodgers. Thell the five men who went in Cheney's place about other priorities, kid.

Democrats mendaciously using the levers of governance for political gains while undermining the war and the survival of Western civilization...

What the fuck are you blatheriong about here?

I said it earlier today - egbert, you are the special kind of stupid that only occurs among the products of Kansas public schools. Valley Center? Derby? Hutch? Olathe?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from Huntsville, AL, Blue Girl. We call it the 'Ville.

Posted by: egbert on March 4, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Good post, Kevin.

Joe Klein at Time's site: "I think this from Kevin Drum has a fair amount of truth to it...and is quite generous. I have some caveats, of course, but let the dialogue continue."

I think Kevin is overlooking the renewable pleasures of triangulation, and the sordid feelings of entitlement--that is, entitled to the reasoned center--that political journalists develop the longer they stay in the game. Professionally constrained from identifying with any "side" in the wars they cover, the gravitate to what they think of as moderation. But it's not. It's triangulation.

Let's see... what do I think today?... left wing extremist there.... right wing extremist there....which puts me... right about....ah! there. Perfect! I've got opponents on either side of me and they make me look reasonable.

Does Paul Krugman do that? No. But Klein would never write what Krugman does because he's not willing to be seen as "out of the mainstream," and in that sense he is, precisely, a wanker. Also Krugman came to column writing with no career in political journalism.

Klein certainly does not know how many people see through him by now. He doesn't see why his positioning enrages people who have actual positions.

Blogging is not good for Klein. He loves provoking too much. The more unreasonable the comments are, the more confirmed he is in his positioning. He's becoming more and more of a clown every week. And despite Kevin's generosity I don't see this turning out well at all for Time or Klein.

Posted by: Jay Rosen on March 4, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

"I have no idea what Klein could be thinking. I loved the 60s and 70s, and although I thought the extremists were nuts, I was quite relaxed about the fact that they would disappear soon enough, as they did.

There is no left any more. The political spectrum ranges from extreme right to a hair's breath to the left of center. Today's right wing extremists will not go gracefully into the night as did the lefty ones of the 60s and 70s. They have tasted power and will take it back by force if need be."
Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 4, 2007 at 3:54 PM

I remember watching the shoot-out between the police and the Symbionese Liberation Army on TV:
http://www.courttv.com/trials/soliah/slahistory5_ctv.html
Nobody really was taking many of the left-wing radicals very seriously by this time and by the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 it was all over. Basically, all it took was for Nixon to leave and the war to end and the radicalism evaporated.

I think who you are regarding as "right-wing extremists" (neocons?) are nothing more than opportunistic hot-heads that will be reduced to generalized pipsqueakery after 2008 and the Iraqi debacle is fully exposed to the public. They are broad-based (say 35% of the population), but their support is rather shallow and temporal IMO. Not to say there aren't any Branch Davidian types and McVeigh types out there.. but they are not really in power. "Cheneyism" (corporatism) is what is in power. I think that "Cheneyism" will evaporate after the Iraq war unwinds as "left-wing radicalism" evaporated when Vietnam ended. The right wingers have just about ran out of bullshit. Once that happens, it's downhill from there until enough time and memory passes away to recreate a new opportunity for them.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on March 4, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

You can bet your bottom dollar that anyone who includes socialism or communism in his or her right-wing invective is elderly and definitely stuck in another time, a time when the John Birch Society held sway in elite Republican circles and speeches against federal borrowing were de rigeur among folks like Ronald Reagan, who was paid at the time by General Electric to traverse the country and spread The Message.

(By the by, isn't it interesting that Rudy Giuliani is attempting to fashion himself as a latter day Reagan. Someone from the old days ought to call him on it: "I knew Ronald Reagan and you, sir, are no Ronald Reagan.")

Posted by: jimmy on March 4, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jay Rosen,

You say that Klein would never write what Krugman does because he's not willing to be seen as out of the mainstream. That's true, insofar as middle-of-the-road is Klein's shtick, and you're not gonna separate him from his meal ticket without a crowbar. Equally to the point, though, is that Klein would never write what Krugman does because he doesn't have the gray matter. All he has is that shtick.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 4, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

I just finished reading all the comments. The interesting thing about them is that while many people talk mention how Klein's comments involve examples taken from the 60s and 70s, and claim that "liberalism" or the "left" have moved on, the only substantive current issues given as examples of "new" concerns are the Middle East and gay marriage.

Frankly, from the viewpoint of most of Middle America, gay marriage IS a radical concept, similar to abortion-on-demand in the 1970s. And the left's current approach to the Middle East seems almost exactly analogous to that put forward toward Southeast Asia in the 60s and 70s, i.e., pull out immediately and hope for the best.

The left won on both abortion and Southeast Asia in the 70s, but in doing so they deeply alienated millions of previously Democratic voters and non-voters. I can't blame Klein if he is worrying that history is about to repeat itself.

Posted by: C.Gray on March 4, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

There used to be an authoritarian left: the actual Stalinists and Maoists of yore. They began to disappear after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was crushed. The last serious left was the New Left. They should have taught you not to trust the establishment and work for equal rights. Did you learn anything, punks?
As for Joe Klein, he is seriously out of touch. He reminds me of David Broder, someone who regards himself as a member of the ruling class without the intellectual chops to actually matter.

…When asked to name names, he demurs. …Aaron S. Veenstra at 2:30 PM

No names, no quotes; just a bunch of assertions without context. He's been called out on it and hasn't responded.
…I don't know how many such extreme leftists there are, but "all but dead" is not accurate. MatthewRMarler at 2:51 PM

ANSWER, the new bugbear: an assemblage of various groups from Socialist to…shudder…Ramsey Clark. You mention Ward Churchill whom no one ever heard of prior to his remark which was without influence. You mention ANSWER, an anti-war group, without any quotations to justify your claim, and certain straw men who "who still think that the Khmer Rouge were not murderers" whoever the hell those are. You're as big a phony whackjob as Joe Klein. What are there, like 883 Socialists in the US including Senator Bernie Sanders?
Changing your mind once in awhile is important and it is something with which extremists have little experience. And young folks. tom t at 3:30 PM

There is intellectual growth based on a lifetime of learning and experience and then there's Joe Klein.
Put succinctly, the left was guilty of some serious witch hunts and has never taken reponsibility for them. Hieronymus Braintreeat 3:42 PM

Wow, the left was Tailgunner Joe McCarthy. Who knew?
Liberal extremists, however, do have significant power in politics… brianat 4:42 PM

You have some serious issues with reality. Who is funding a war on Christianity and who is funding wars on behalf of Christianity? Who is your straw man that wants to surrender to "UN radicalism" and what the hell is that? I'm glad liberal extremists helped your Republicans win in 2006 and may they do the same in 2008.
Socialists are very much alive and well… Corlyss at 5:27 PM

That Bernie Sanders sure does get around.

Posted by: Mike on March 4, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I really think it has a great deal less to do with generation and a great deal MORE to do with "mouthing off to one's betters." It may be that people of my age and younger are more used to a couple of thrown elbows in the course of online dialogue, but mostly I think Mr. Klein is just not comfortable with being challenged so directly by mere READERS.

He seems much more comfortable with your post, even though you make points identical to those in Swampland comments, and in a tone as cordial. You are just someone Klein is able to accept as a peer.

Posted by: Valentinian on March 4, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I think who you are regarding as "right-wing extremists" (neocons?) are nothing more than opportunistic hot-heads that will be reduced to generalized pipsqueakery after 2008 and the Iraqi debacle is fully exposed to the public. They are broad-based (say 35% of the population), but their support is rather shallow and temporal IMO. Not to say there aren't any Branch Davidian types and McVeigh types out there.. but they are not really in power. "Cheneyism" (corporatism) is what is in power. I think that "Cheneyism" will evaporate after the Iraq war unwinds as "left-wing radicalism" evaporated when Vietnam ended. The right wingers have just about ran out of bullshit. Once that happens, it's downhill from there until enough time and memory passes away to recreate a new opportunity for them."

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on March 4, 2007 at 6:28 PM

I'll remind you that these people have been plotting this takeover from at least the Ford Administration, that can be documented. Nicaraugua and Iran-Contra was a test case. They're not going away.

Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 4, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

C. Grey:

"The left won on both abortion and Southeast Asia in the 70s, but in doing so they deeply alienated millions of previously Democratic voters and non-voters. I can't blame Klein if he is worrying that history is about to repeat itself."

Roe V. Wade was 1973. Apparently, not enough Americans were alienated that they didn't go out and elect a Democratic president the very next chance they got.

Likewise with Vietnam after the pullout, which -- as you'll recall -- took place under a Republican president. (And this isn't to suggest Democratic innocence in this sorry affair. They were the ones who started the war in the first place.)

Lastly, you need to hire yourself a tutor if you think Vietnam & the current Middle East are analogous. There is no Cold War, and we gave up on a policy of containment several years ago, anyway. To disastrous results, I might add. Finally, try as you might, you won't find oil in Southeast Asia.

But thanks for playing.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on March 4, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

BoulderDuckSorry Boomers...Time for you to get out of the way.

So do I have to drop dead right now? Or is it just enough to stop speaking and thinking?

And if you think we boomers "blazed the way" you're displaying a stunning ignorance of history. (But, I should add, no more so than many of my fellow boomers.) Those social gains that happened during the '60's were only part of an ongoing struggle that began before slavery was abolished, and won't be over until my black friends can walk down my street without being called "nigger." And that's not even mentioning labor, gender, etc. issues.

Kevin, you may have been mistaken in casting this, even tangentially, as a "generational" issue. I've known people of all generations at all points on the political spectrum.

Posted by: thersites on March 4, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

I am glad Egbert identified himself as someone truly with a limited world view. I understand now.
This kind of reminds me of the UCLA student who was all for the tasering of the kid staying late at the library at UCLA and the student published this plus incendiary rhetoric in a school paper, asking for jokes about Rodney King.
I could not believe someone would have that view. But I realized it was limited life experiences.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll remind you that these people have been plotting this takeover from at least the Ford Administration, that can be documented. Nicaraugua and Iran-Contra was a test case. They're not going away."
Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 4, 2007 at 7:00 PM

They may have been working on consolidating power since Ford's time, but I believe in political "eras" and I think their era is coming to a close and they will be discredited very harshly-if not imprisoned.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on March 4, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

I too was bothered by the dismissiveness of the "Boomers get out of the way" remark.
Boomers grew up in some of the most interestingly times with critically important social movements for civil rights, educational rights for the mentally/physically handicapped,
the rights and freedom for women, including one's reproductive rights and even the right of a woman to have a credit card, the peace movement in which even parents of boomers joined to stop a terrible war. These were very formative times. Boomers watched the Doris Day,Harriet Nelson, June Cleaver lifestyles come to a merciful end as people branched out of the molds created for them in the 50's.
Most boomers I know work in jobs that reflect the values they developed, many in social services, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, science. Fields that help people. Studies show boomers to be excellent workers with great work ethic. Boomers cross many years--1946 to 1964. I noticed, by the way, Joe Klein is an early boomer--born in '45 or '46.

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there's ten minutes I'll never get back. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!! Compare a few articles in Time with what you learn by reading some good bloggers. Then, never read Time again- read Zola, or Tolstoy, or even just a 'graphic novel', and your time won't be totally wasted- like it is when you read Time.

Joe Klein- the journalistic equivalent of lo-fat Chicken McNuggets.

Posted by: serial catowner on March 4, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's not clear to me why Joe Klein has become such an interesting subject, because he's not a very interesting writer, but rather someone cranking out sloppy, poorly-thought work. Is it just because people are disappointed that a so-called liberal has a column in Time and isn't really a decent spokesman for liberal causes? Because, really, what the hell do you expect from Time or any corporate media outlet? Howard Zinn?

Posted by: gummitch on March 4, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

March 14, 2005 Issue
Copyright 2005 The American Conservative

Marxism of the Right

by Robert Locke

Americans have more in common with social democrats around the world than you may think, Kevin. And there are a helluvalot of them around the world in Europe and Canada and now in South America. "Socialism" means a great many different things to different people, so does "libertarianism". Noam Chomsky, Libertarian Socialist.

George Orwell wrote in 1946, "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it." Socialism, like liberalism, is just a innocuous word that has been much maligned for years by the very same extremists Mr. Rosen is talking about.


Posted by: LWM on March 4, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

I wish someone would explain to me why socialism is such a bad thing, anyway. Capatilism is a plague upon mankind, and i eagerly await the day when the state controls the consumption, and fair and equitable distribution, of the earth's resources.
That is the true definition of the betterment of humanity.

Posted by: sweet billy on March 4, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

They may have been working on consolidating power since Ford's time, but I believe in political "eras" and I think their era is coming to a close and they will be discredited very harshly-if not imprisoned.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on March 4, 2007 at 7:07 PM

Sorry--I'm not from a town called Hope.

It was how these guys responded to Vietnam that created the mess we're in today. And if the loss in Vietnam spawned such a crazy reaction, imagine what a loss in Iraq will bring forth. They, or their emotional progeny, will come back in force.

One of the advantages of growing old is that maybe I'll be dead when they make their comeback.

Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 4, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Wow, the left was Tailgunner Joe McCarthy. Who knew?"

According to Peter Viereck, he was.

The First Conservative


Viereck’s anti-Communist credentials were beyond question: he had always advocated defending democracy from extremists. But he thought that McCarthy’s crusade was discrediting the anti-Communist cause: “That the McCarthy movement normally accuses only non-Communists of ‘Communism’ is one of the main rules of the game,” he complained in 1955. Worse, he believed that the Senator was not a conservative patriot, or even simply an opportunist. McCarthy, Viereck said, was a radical of the left. In a typical speech, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, in New York, in 1954, Viereck subjected the Senator to a Burkean critique:

"McCarthy basically is not the fascist type but the type of the left-wing anarchist agitator, by an infallible instinct and not “by accident” subverting precisely those institutions that are the most conservative and organic, everything venerable and patrician, from the Constitution, and precisely the most decorated or paternal generals (Marshall, Eisenhower, Taylor, Zwicker), to the leaders of our most deeply established religion and precisely the most ancient of our universities. . . . He satisfies the resentments of his followers, because his sincerest hatred is always against the oldest, most rooted, and most deeply educated patrician families—the Cabot Lodges, Achesons, Conants, Adlai Stevenson."


McCarthyism, Viereck wrote, “is the revenge of the noses that for twenty years of fancy parties were pressed against the outside window pane.” (What Viereck abhorred about McCarthy, Ann Coulter, in her recent book “Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism,” openly admires: “McCarthy’s real ‘victims’ were not sympathetic witnesses, frivolous Hollywood screenwriters, or irrelevant blowhard college professors. They were elite WASP establishment policy-makers. . . . They were well-born and looked good in dinner jackets. . . . Angry ethnics like Joe McCarthy made much better Americans.”)

Posted by: LWM on March 4, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

The most telling thing about bringing up Ward Churchill in this context is that the man is so unimportant to the Left that nobody noticed his 2001 opinions about 9/11 until 2005.

Posted by: DonBoy on March 4, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I wish someone would explain to me why socialism is such a bad thing, anyway. Capatilism is a plague upon mankind, and i eagerly await the day when the state controls the consumption, and fair and equitable distribution, of the earth's resources.
That is the true definition of the betterment of humanity

You should read that piece Marxism of the Right.

Unrestrained monopolistic corporate capitalism is pernicious. Free enterprise is not. Pure Marxism would not be pretty, either. A little bit of this, a little bit of that... depends on the situation, the population and culture, politics.


George Orwell, in a 1944 review of "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek and "The Mirror of the Past" by K. Zilliacus:

What Hayek] does not see, or will not admit, [is] that a return to "free" competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism necessarily leads to monopoly, but in practice that is where it has led, and since the vast majority of people would far rather have State regimentation than slumps and unemployment, the drift towards collectivism is bound to continue if popular opinion has any say in the matter.

Posted by: LWM on March 4, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein will likely regret that post--people weren't even ragging on him, and I recall some great articles he wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine in the past

Posted by: consider wisely always on March 4, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Posted at Klein's blog:

'..the real wankers and enemies of the state tend to be ideological extremists--and intellectually insecure bulies--who need to hunt for "wankers" and "enemies".'

This just kind of stuck with me. Joe's right, but doesn't seem to realize that he's engaging in behavior similar to those 'intellectually insecure bullies' he writes of...only in his case, misrepresenting the comments provided and dismissing them with a pejorative term like 'commentariat'.

Also, I feel that the examples provided as evidence of extremism of the left and right speaks for Klein's extreme devotion to the middle...nevermind that a 30-year-old busing issue and current neoconservative foreign policy don't quite seem to be equivalent; both must be presented as a means for Klein to demonstrate his position in the middle and thus, the correctness of his views.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 4, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK
I'd say that Joe Klein is suffering the following phenomema:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his SALARY depends on his NOT UNDERSTANDING IT." - Upton Sinclair

Joe Klein has his bully pulpit because he is so good at bashing Democrats, why would he put that to risk by looking at reality?

Mary nailed it.

Posted by: obscure on March 4, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

I just wonder who Klein writes for. Who is the audience for his blog? It's not the people who are liberal, it's not the people who are conservative, and I just don't think those "moderates" are into reading his blog. So who is the audience for Klein?

Posted by: bc on March 4, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Democrats hate America. Sadly, their hatred runs so deep, they don't even think that "extremist."
Posted by: Evan Sayet"

I don't hate America. I hate the current U.S. Government and assholes like you.

U.S. out Of North America

Posted by: LWM on March 4, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

What I see from the leftist blogosphere is the entitlement mentality that there is an endless pot of money out there. And that if we just raised taxes high enough on the rich, that everyone in the country could enjoy college educations, health care, affordable housing, well-paying jobs, wonderful retirement pensions, and clean alternative energy. If we just raised taxes high enough...

Posted by: muckdog on March 4, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

What I see from the leftist blogosphere is...

My question is, do you see these things or do you merely tell yourself and your like-minded friends these things?

Over and over and over.

Posted by: obscure on March 4, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Muckdog --

Besides being an innaccurate caricature of "leftist" (whatever that means), the truth is that this administration believes it has any amount of money to throw at any project or problem without accounting for it or raising taxes to apy for it.

"Spend without taxation or responsibility" seems like a suitable GWB motto.

Posted by: notthere on March 4, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

egfart: "Kinda puts a different spin on it, doesn't it, Kevin?"

You couldn't put a different spin on things if your name was Maytag. It's all recycled garbage: W's off the typewriters... How about arms blown off our servicemen? Like Joe Klein, you are impervious to the reality in front of you today, and so keep going back to lies that worked for Rove once upon a time. Yeah, really comforting stuff, that.

You didn't come of age in the late '90s or anytime; you are a pathetic excuse for an adult and a terrible citizen with zero concern for the welfare of you own country. Shame on you for so persistently polluting the conversation here. Just because your parents never taught you about boundaries doesn't mean you should ignore them now.

Go peddle your pee-stained papers somewhere else, kid.

Posted by: Kenji on March 4, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

egbert, if you came of age in the 90's and early 00's and are not posting your pro-Bush pro-war bullshit from Anbar or Ramadi, go fuck yourself, you yellow-bellied coward.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 4, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's late in the thread, but I can't help piling on.

There is nothing intergenerational about it. I see where Joe K. came from, because I was there. But times changed and I changed with them. Joe K did not.

I have a perfect Joe K. background. I first came to political awareness at the Brown student strike of 1975, got very sensitized to the destructive academic left in the 1980's, and was a strong Clintonite in the early 1990's. Heck, I even pulled a Mickey Kaus in law school in the late 1980's, and allied with the Federalists to fight the academic lefties. I'm not sure if everything I did was the right thing in retrospect, but I'm not particularly embarrassed by any of it.

But unlike Joe K. (or Joe L., for that matter), I didn't fossilize. I saw the impeachment, saw the trashing of Gore, and saw the Bushie tactics, which started on day 1, with the White House keyboard scandalette. Joe K., for some reason, did not. I still don't much like the academic left, but who cares? They're not very important. Even if they were, they are far less harmful than even the most "moderate" of the Bushies.

If Joe K decides to rejoin the reality-based community, good for him. Otherwise, he's not worth an intergenerational conversation. I think it is usually good for the young 'uns to talk to Grampa. They might learn something--unless he's senile. In which case, just humor him.

Posted by: Joe S. on March 4, 2007 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Meh. Klein's generation will all be in diapers again soon. What's the point of trying to discuss anything with them?

Posted by: s9 on March 4, 2007 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein has spoken about the "the hate America tendency of the [Democratic Party's] left wing". Few people who consider themselvs part of the Democatic Pary's left wing hold views that are anywhere near Klein's description of left-wing extremist and are very deeply offended by Klein's words. Klein should start using the correct term "radical fringe" for the people he is talking about, and stop slandering the "left wing".

Posted by: david1234 on March 4, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Because, s9, there is something to be learned from both history and experience, which, in itself, is an idea that some youth, particularly, tend to forget. Not that I am fogiving the middle-aged neocons either.

Posted by: notthere on March 4, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

You know, many other grandpa and grandma types take advantage of their mortality, if you want to put it that way, but giving ever less of a shit how they fit in and actually start speaking their minds.

If you remember back to 1980 and '84, people over 65 were the least likely group to vote for the Gipper. They had seen better presidents, and they had seen him as second-string actor.

At least Reagan could sell a line. If you haven't seen this, check it out:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Pa3J-L29iT8

Posted by: Kenji on March 4, 2007 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

"try as you might, you won't find oil in Southeast Asia."

http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1997/ofr-97-470/OF97-470F/aspac2.html

Posted by: rea on March 4, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Corlyss:
It's been about four hours. Still waiting for a list -- even a very short one -- of those socialists inhabiting leadership positions in the groups and institutions that you mentioned. Still waiting...

Socialists are very much alive and well. They inhabit the Democratic leadership positions, the NEA, most of academia outside the hard science disciplines, and the media. IOW, the elites of this country, many of whom are Klein's generation and who haven't grown up because it is a characteristic of Boomers that they are permanent juveniles.
Posted by: Corlyss on March 4, 2007 at 5:27 PM |

Posted by: keith on March 4, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Kline vs. the Liberal Blogs is a generational thing. I was born in 1965 so I remember Watergait & saw the 1970's version of the counterculture/new left/Vietnam situation. I can appreciate how the vast cultural changes & conflict of this era could become the central event in someone like Kline's political world view. Unfortunately I think a great many of the current political "elite" in both parties are stuck in 1968 & are projecting thier college conflicts on the Iraq war situation.

I think one of the unfortunate fall-outs from the 1960's was the destruction of the "pre 1968" center which I define as LBJ/Humphrey's pro Labor and Civil Rights policies as well as the expansion of the New Deal with Medicare & Medicaid. LBJ/Humphrey were attacked by both the New Left & the Goldwater "New Right". It seems that the country is now in the grip of the New Right's economic and foreign policy while the DLC Democrats sometimes appear to we warmed over Eisenhower Republicans.

Maybe there was no way after the fights over Vietnam/counter-culture/civil rights/womens liberation to hold FDR's New Deal Coalition together (ever though the coelition controlled Congress until 1994).

Fortunately, the 2006 elections have offered an opportunity for a new liberalism to displace the tired reactionary "New Right" Republicans. Obama of Illinois in my opionion is the right vessel for this new movement. Iraq has destroyed the Republican's illusion of foreign policy realism and competance while Katrina has shown the true face of what "limited" government actually means. The time is ripe for a reinvigorated labor movement through card check as well as universal health care.

Please take note of the Republican's glaring weak spot in the support they receive from Populists (Socially Traditional/Economically Liberal Citizens). Candidates like Jim Webb in Virginia are speaking the language of populists. My friends on the right here in Texas are scared to death of Jim Webb. They can see the collapse of thier power base everytime Webb speaks of economic fairness.

I agree that a strong progressive movement is required to move the country in this new direction. Keep up the good work on the blogs and don't worry so much about people like Kline. They are complicit in ignoring the radicalism of Bush/Cheney and now having seen the consequences are at a loss as to what to do about it because they are stuck in 1968 and see the "New Left" everytime a blog questions their world view.

By all means Carry On.

Posted by: markusdevious on March 4, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

There are four words that sum up succinctly Joe Klein's career: Primary Colors by Anonymous.

Therefore, Kevin, there's simply no point in having with Mr. Klein what you had hoped would be "an inter-generational conversation that tries to unpack the assumptions behind the name calling."

But if you insist on having such a conversation, my 17-year-old niece is available after she finishes her homework. She's an honor student and editor of her high school paper, and brings to the discussion more credibility on the subject of journalistic integrity than Joe Klein, Tim Russert, Judy Miller and Matt Cooper put together.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on March 4, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

I really think that Bill Clinton worked wonders for the Democratic Party, and once the old warhorses like Ted Kennedy retire, and the younger generation of Dems like Rahm Emanuel are primarily in charge of Democratic policy, there's a real chance for Dems to form a new national majority.

Back when the Dems produced a few quasi-socialists in the mid-20th Century, they were based in the south and midwest. The south has always been sort of a client region; it exists largely because of federal money redistributed to it from the wealthy states in the northeast. This is why it's so ironic that the south is now the region of the GOP, and this is also one of the reasons that the GOP has become so much more tolerant of pork, federal programs, gov't waste, etc.

The regions that now make up the base of the Democratic Party are the original GOP regions. The northeast was the base of the old Tom Dewey fiscally conservative GOP of the mid-20th Century. The west was the Nixon, Goldwater, and Reagan libertarian Republican country. The northeast and the west coast are now the Democratic base, with the mountain west moving in that direction with governors like Richardson. States like Michigan that used to elect fiscally conservative, pro-business, socially liberal Republicans like George Romney are now also Democratic.

The fact that the Democratic Party is now based in the pro-business, socially liberal parts of the country probably means that we could see a new "liberalism" that looks a lot like what we used to call Rockefeller Republicanism, one that calls for everyone to be able to get a good education and that no one should have to forego a visit to the doctor when needed, but also one that promotes business and trade and believes America is a positive influence in the world and that doesn't dink around in people's bedrooms or with their bodies. I don't think we're there yet, but ten years down the road, who knows?

Posted by: Alex on March 4, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

He's arguing against atrios, kos,

Good lawd. If moderates like atrios and markos represent the fringe, then we are all doomed.


Posted by: Disputo on March 4, 2007 at 4:40 PM

Disputo,

I hope you're kidding. I like Kos & Atrios. I like what they bring to the debate of public policy & politics, but they are not moderate. If they are moderate, then John Edwards is George W. Bush. These guys are great, but they are closer to the extreme of our politics than they are to the middle. We need them to be there to push sometimes scared politicians to do what needs to be done, but they are not moderate.

Oh, did I say the weren't moderate, yet?

Posted by: Noah on March 4, 2007 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

I like Kos & Atrios... but they are not moderate.

They seem pretty moderate to me. What political issues do you feel they've taken an extreme position on?

Posted by: Snorghagen on March 4, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I grew up during the 60s, and I have to wonder about all these people who were so terrified of them. I mean, really, yeah, war, assassinations, Nixon, Johnson, but as for "progressive" culture? Immensely great music. Great film. Civil rights. Women's rights. I mean, what exactly scared Joe Klein? Sure, Nixon would scare the devil... but how does that translate to a fear of liberalism? I mean, it's not like anyone was terrified of Gene McCarthy, except LBJ.
Joe Klein is very weird. He seems to have no self-awareness at all, and yeah, I guess anyone who lived through the 60s and had no fun probably isn't really good at understanding reality. He's one of those guys who is utterly humorless but thinks he's hilarious, and is utterly unreasonable and thinks he's the font of reason. He really thinks socialism is scary... and he's living in Bush's America.

But you know, he was probably humming along to Frank Sinatra when the Stones were singing. :)

Posted by: petra on March 5, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Snorhagen,

In what universe are they moderate? They are pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, anti-war (from 2003), pro-card check for unions, very very very anti-Bush, they support doing something on global warming (I've read on how Kos supports a cap and trade system) and many other positions. I support many of Kos' & Atrios' positions, but I'm a liberal progressive. I'm not ashamed of it, but I'm not moderate and neither is Kos or Atrios. Their positions are not the mainstream positions of America's electorate and that is how you define a moderate.

Posted by: Noah on March 5, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

The pendulum swings back and forth. That shouldn‘t surprise anyone.

When they were fighting for the workers back in the early 20th century, labor unions were the greatest force for good in America. Then with success and power, they went too far, stifling creativity and efficiency in the old smoke stack industries. Now that their power has been downsized and the workers have suffered for it, its time for them to be a force again.

The early feminists had some pretty big obstacles to overcome and they largely succeeded. But success caused them to overreach. How they did savage those of us who wouldn’t buy the feminist dogma that men and women are born the same in every respect and all differences are cultural and learned. Thanks to the gods that’s over with.

Busing was a too extreme answer to a much more extreme problem. Now that the southerners no longer lynch blacks or murder voter registration workers, we can be more measured in our solutions.

But as much as the left overreached, the right is the champion by far. From the successes of the Gingrich days to the self destruction of the Bush-Abramoff years in little more than a decade!

The left is on the rise now and I imagine we will first help solve many problems in America, then we’ll let our successes carry us away. After we pass laws to require at least one gay in every office, and remove the word “God” from every coin and public building, the right will have their day again.

Posted by: James of DC on March 5, 2007 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Noah:

Last I heard, most Americans are pro-choice, most are fed up with the war in Iraq, most support doing something about global warming, and most are disillusioned with Bush. None of those are wild-eyed positions.

In the case of Kos, much of his energy goes to supporting Democratic candidates, and many of the candidates he's most energetically supported - like Stephanie Herseth or Jon Tester - are very, very far from being fire-breathing lefties. In general, Kos' main interest seems to be in the mechanics of winning elections rather than in pushing policy for broad social change.

I think you're confusing Kos' and Atrios' radical blogging style with their non-radical politics.

Posted by: Snorghagen on March 5, 2007 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Most of what you've written concerning Klein is spot on---except for one sad stereotype you insist on perpetuating: "Outside of Berkeley, you'd have to swing several hundred dead cats before you'd be likely to come across an actual socialist."

Oh please. I've lived in Berkeley for years, I've followed the local political scene closely and have yet to encounter an actual socialist.

Does it mean there isn't a few rattling around here? Of course not, but I'd say the number wouldn't be all that higher than what you'd encounter in any other college town.

While our city council has indeed had its share of daffy ideas over the years, the notion that Berkeley remains the world's premier "hippieopolis" is downright silly. Your insights are undercut with a dumbass, Michael Barone-style throwaway line like this.

Posted by: Nerdblossom on March 5, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Klein will take a hint from the number of people who accurately list the members of Congress, the Bush administration, and the mainstream media that fit his definitions of right-wing extremism.

I like Kos & Atrios. I like what they bring to the debate of public policy & politics, but they are not moderate.

Well, you define 'moderate' in terms of Broderland centrism, a false medium. They're down-the-line Democrats. They'd be Liberals in Canada, not NDP or BQ.

What they're not is meek & mild, which brings us back to Joe's ultimate confusion when labelling Atrios an 'ideological extremist'.

Posted by: ahem on March 5, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Kenneth Starr and the Republican loonies trying to impeach a president over a blow job

Not trying: succeeding. No doubt this has been pointed out above. I didn't try to read through all the comments.

Otherwise, spot on; thanks.

Posted by: live on March 5, 2007 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

So many great comments go unnoted in these threads. I, for one, would like to thank 3:30's "tom t" for his brilliant bit of parody, though I do wonder if he is not our beloved Joe Klein himself.

Posted by: matt on March 5, 2007 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK

Snorghagen,

You're not listening to me. If you look polls a majority of people are pro-choice and a couple of the other things you listed which you cherry-picked from my earlier list.

Most people in this country are not pro-gay marriage. Most people, while they want to do something about global warming, have not signed up for the cap and trade system. Most people also want a universal healthcare, but they are not for a single payer program. Most people want to solve the immigration problem, but they are not for the Kennedy bill.

How do I know this; because polling consistently tells me so.

I don't agree with the majority on this, but this is the opinion of mainstream. I am a liberal; you are a liberal; Kos & Atrios are also liberals. No problem with that. They are not the communist molotov cocktail throwing crazies that the media and the right-wing portray them to be, but they are liberal. It's just that simple. We don't represent the center. I'm not ashamed of that, are you? It's not the center that pushes people to change. And that's what were trying to do, isn't it?

Before liberals came about, most of Americans did not believe in equality between the races. Before liberals came about, people did not have Social Security. Before liberals came about, unions were a pariah. We're the people who are ahead of the curve and we shouldn't try to pretend we're in the middle of the curve.

Posted by: Noah on March 5, 2007 at 4:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Liberals" in America are anything but ...
They are against individual freedom. It is precisely liberals that perpetuate the problems with race that the nation continues to face.

It was the Democratic party that defended slavery, even to the point of Civil War. It was the Souther Populist-Northern Trade Union coalition that underwrote Racism and Jim Crow.

And now, the American left continues to play dangerous politics with color by supporting policies that generate division in society.

Nevertheless, we get statements like those of Noah above that "before liberals came out, most Americans did not believe in racial equality." Apparently in Noah's world most liberals were not American -- how warped, how correct!

Posted by: Jack Kalpakian on March 5, 2007 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum seems to be proud of his gnats-eye view of the world, and the narrowness of his motivations. Gee, I became politically aware in the 90's, says Drum, so I disclaim any responsibility for learning about what fellow liberals did before then, when they had political power.

You could learn from Klein, if you were smart enough to listen. There are correlates to the school busing issue (and, if you care about the welfare of kids, you should know that such busing affects kids todays, who cannot learn when they arrive at school dead tired.) Klein was talking about a certain self-righteous, willfully stupid mindset. And you share it; you advertise it; you're apparently proud of your stupidity.

Posted by: Brian on March 5, 2007 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

By Noah:
In what universe are they moderate? They are pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, anti-war (from 2003), pro-card check for unions, very very very anti-Bush, they support doing something on global warming (I've read on how Kos supports a cap and trade system) and many other positions.

Sorry Noah, but I think snorhagen is right that you are confusing moderate with centrist.

Your list shows what very few people would disagree with, that Kos, Atrios, et. al. are left of center. What it does not show it that they occupy some extreme possition on the left fringe of American political thought.

Even on gay marriage, I would say that while the majority Americans are uncomfortable with idea of gay marriage, they increasingly support the idea that people in committed gay partnerships ought to have some way to guarantee their wishes are honored on things like hospital visitation, powers of attorney, inheritance and maybe even child custody.

Posted by: tanj on March 5, 2007 at 6:24 AM | PERMALINK

Your thesis makes much sense. Politically, we're often defined by what we're against. Much like Klein, my moderate politics were shaped by the failures of 60s liberalism and punctuated by Carter's incompetence. No doubt that GWB's incompetence has hardwired an entire generation's hardcore disdain for all things Bush.

Posted by: kreiz on March 5, 2007 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK

Just wait; you'll get your turn. 25 years from now, while this generation is still railing against the sins of BushCo, there'll be a new generation staring at you, wondering WTF? Everyone eventually becomes a dinosaur.

Posted by: kreiz on March 5, 2007 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Your analysis of JK is spot on -- Digby recently highlighted a sort-of conciliatory comment by JK (can't find the link right now) in which he discussed how he had been shocked at some of the things he heard being spewed on right-wing talk radio. JK's tone seemed to suggest that he was just discovering this. In 2007! To me, that's the big problem with this guy: the right wing has been perfecting the low art of sliming & smearing at least since the Clinton years, and JK writes as though he just noticed it now (and only after being hounded by bloggers to the point where he could no longer deny some recognition of reality). Pitiful. What other explanation can there be but willful ignorance?

Posted by: gg on March 5, 2007 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

The first poster had it right,

Where did Klein get his ideas about "left-wing extremist"? From the KKK and their ideas about African Americans? Because those guys have the same delusional BS that Klien makes up in his head.

I'm Klein's generation and he's nuts if he thinks he's battling anything other than demons inside his head.

There is no "liberal" media, just a bunch of right-wing nuts that still don't believe that Bush lies - that's real horror.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 5, 2007 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

Best takeout from the comments:

"I guess anyone who lived through the 60s and had no fun probably isn't really good at understanding reality."

Also, I detect some ageism in the comments. Sure sign of mental rigidity, regardless of age of the commenter.

Posted by: eCAHNomics on March 5, 2007 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'll grant your point about the Clinton impeachment being "over a blowjob" if you will grant mine that the Nixon resignation to avoid impeachment was over a "third rate burglary." Which is it ?

"There is no "liberal" media, just a bunch of right-wing nuts that still don't believe that Bush lies - that's real horror.

Posted by: Chery"

I rest my case. Klein nails it.

Posted by: Mike K on March 5, 2007 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

rest my case.

We the Jury find in favor of Chery (sic) and against Mike K.

The decision was unanimous your honor.

Posted by: the Jury on March 5, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

But it would be worth having an inter-generational conversation that tries to unpack the assumptions behind the name calling. You never know. We might all learn something.

Actually, I think that you pretty much “get it” already Kevin, as illustrated by your reaction to Klein’s busing comments. Busing was a reaction to a seemingly intractable school segregation problem. Was it surprising that some courts finally said “enough”, we’ve got to try something? Better than another civil war, no? But a dead issue now days.

I’m a southern guy of Klein’s generation. The amazing thing to me is the long lasting division of my generation, a division that was defined by Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. My generation divided on those issues all those years ago. A larger segment of us we were pro-civil rights and anti-Vietnam than our parents’ generation, but our division has not changed much in all these years. The pro-Vietnam/anti-civil rights segment has, for the most part, gravitated to the Republican party; the rest of us toward the Democratic party.

But today? Outside of Berkeley, you'd have to swing several hundred dead cats before you'd be likely to come across an actual socialist.

Right, and that was almost just as true 30 and 40 years ago. But your “dead cat” comment is cute for a cat-blogger. Did you ever read the book 101 Uses for a Dead Cat”?

Posted by: jackohearts on March 5, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

you'd have to swing several hundred dead cats before you'd be likely to come across an actual socialist

Swinging dead cats is for finding PETA members. You need to host a Hugo Chavez speech to find a socialist.

Posted by: B on March 5, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Kevin, I'll grant your point about the Clinton impeachment being "over a blowjob" if you will grant mine that the Nixon resignation to avoid impeachment was over a "third rate burglary." Which is it ?"

OK, I'll grant the point. However, a blowjob between two consenting adults, neitherof whom is being paid for the activity, is not illegal, whereas a burglary - first, second, or third rate - is. By definition, it fits the standard of impeachment for "high crimes and misdemeanors" under the U.S. Constitution. Now tell me again about the equivalence between Nixon's act and Clinton's?

Posted by: jjcomet on March 5, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I particularly like markusdevious' comments above. Sometimes I wonder if our political attitudes are formed in the same way as our musical tastes, stuck in time. Maybe Klein listens to old Beatles records. Who knows?

Posted by: kreiz on March 5, 2007 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I think the following describes many pundits besides Joe Klein.

A clueless time-warp pundit exibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes:

--believes that the people who took Gen. Shinseki serously care less about the military than those who did not.
--thinks first of George McGovern as politician who opposed the Iraq war, rather than Al Gore, Howard Dean or Jim Webb.
--believes most people who opposed the war did so because they hate America, rather than it was a stupid idea whose problems were not only predictable, but predicted.
--believes that those who think government can play a role in reducing poverty are by nature socialists.
--believes that those who realize coporations will act for their own advandage and need to be subject to rules also think that they are fundamentally evil.
--believes being pro-choice and pro gay marriage means you are against religion
--believes Republicans care more about fiscal responsbility than Democrats
--believes that Republicans who lead us into Iraq care more about national security than Democrats who tried to prevent the debacle.

Posted by: david1234 on March 5, 2007 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

What Klein and most in the mainstream media don't seem to get is this:

Whether the issue concerns gay Americans, 9/11, abortion, judicial appointments or political corruption, a seamless continuum of hate runs from today's Republican Party through to its most extreme conservative proponents. And that means the GOP differs only in degree - not in kind - from the cartoonish and sometimes criminal likes of Ann Coulter, Fred Phelps or Eric Rudolph.

For more, see:
"Coulter's Slur and the Conservative Brand of Hate."

Posted by: AngryOne on March 5, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Klein is a war supporter, whose corporate economic interests inform all of his political views.

The US is a negative force in the world. Ask Nicaraguans, Panamanians, Iraqis and Afghanis and count the number of foreign military bases

Islamic radicalism is a propaganda theme created by corporate media war profiteers in order to create a need for war against peoples with oil.

The Iraq invasion and occupation is a direct result of US militantism. The stupidity Klein speaks of had to do with the average American citizen thinking W. Bush was not a lying thief.

Attributing the failure in Afghanistan to NATO is humorous, and indicative of Americans' inability to take responsibility for their own actions and policies. American conservatives/moderates have to blame others for their failings, and NATO is Klein's scapegoat. He is accusing others of accusing others so he does not have to take responsibilty for his failings. Has he no decency?

Carefully regulated and progressively taxed market economies are properly called Marxist.

Klein's other points are too easily dismissed. I will lastly say corporations conspire to control markets, and one facet of this desire is to control politics, which large accumulations of capital allow them to do.

Time magazine has no decency and is owned by a huge collective of capital that is trying to control and exploit its markets to achieve ever greater returns on investment regardless of the benefit or lack thereof to society. Perhaps Time's corporate owners needs more market controls impressed upon them.


Posted by: Brojo on March 5, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'll grant your point about the Clinton impeachment being "over a blowjob" if you will grant mine that the Nixon resignation to avoid impeachment was over a "third rate burglary." Which is it ?

Um, you may be missing the fact that at least in DC blowjobs, unlike burglaries, are not criminal felonies punishable by years in prison. So yes, I'll take your point about the Clinton impeachment being over the President engaging in a consensual sex act between two adults and grant yours about the Nixon resignation being over the President engaging in a crime....

Posted by: Stefan on March 5, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Many of the ideological tendencies that Klein lists in his critera for leftist extremism are alive and well. In fact, a few are commonly displayed in the comments section of this blog.

I agree with Kevin that rightwing extremism is, at this point, a more sinister force in politics. Perhaps that's because it's more common, or more politically connected to the ruling clique of a major party.

But I recently graduated from a liberal arts school in New England, and I simply don't buy the notion that the attitudes Klein is responding to are mere phantoms.

P.S. I would be very entertained to read his list of qualities of right wing extremists.

Posted by: Jonathan Dworkin on March 5, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

This is really unbelievable. Like Klein, I am from the desgregation era; I was in fourth grade in Dunedin, Florida when for the first time a black student was enrolled in my previously all-white elementary school. Sure there was a lot of complaining at the time; it was 1963 in the old Confederacy.

Now I am a construction worker who has lived for the last thirty years seven hundred miles South of the Mason-Dixon line. I have worked with countless good-ol'-boys in that time, and I haven't heard anybody mention how he's still upset over public school desegregation since 1980 at the absolute latest. Even the reddest-necked of us rednecks got used to it, and in retrospect look at it as a good thing.

And here I read Joe Klein still bitching about school desegregation forty years later! Is this what the mass media call a "centrist" these days, a throwback who wants to return to segregated schools? Jesus Christ, I was really hoping all those disgusting unreformed old bigots had died and gone to Hell by now.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on March 5, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

third rate burglary

Well, there you go, the old canard used by the crowd of Nixon supporters who later supported Reagan and GWB.

Their tender ears could never quite “hear” the information that the burglary was performed by an ongoing unit operating out of the white house that performed numerous dirty tricks and illegal acts, such as the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s office. What a difference several decades makes. None.

Same people couldn’t tell you anything about the Gulf of Tonkin. Just. Can’t. Hear it.

Posted by: jackohearts on March 5, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Can we finally put the word "moderate" to rest, at least in its political sense? "Moderate" is an invention of the MSM and has no standard, agreed-upon meaning.
"Centrism", on the other hand, is a big tent that includes liberals and conservatives, as those terms used to be understood. Anyone who isn't an extremist or ideologue is a centrist: JFK, Atrios, Bob Dole, Arthur Schlesinger, Ike, Adlai--yes, Joe Klein, too. Part of the problem is that there are few real conservatives left anymore. Coolidge, Hoover, and the like are gone. Movement types stole the term beginning in the 1950s and bamboozled the media into using it to characterize them.

Posted by: Henderstock on March 5, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew Marler: "Consider Ward Churchill and his comments on the people who worked in the WTC. And the people who backed him for tenure and defended him against charges of incompetence. How about the people at A.N.S.W.E.R. who think that N. Korea is better governed, and better for world pwace, than the U.S.? Or the people who still think that the Khmer Rouge were not murderers until they had been attacked by the U.S. Such people continue to think that the U.S. is a fundamentally negative influence in the world."

Posted by: eCAHNomics: "That and all the other examples of lefty extremism that have been mentioned in the comments are truly the exceptions that prove the rule. People who look for extremists on the left have to go to such lengths as to dredge up Ward Churchill, whereas we could all point to many R members of Congress for right wing extremists, not to mention several well known think tanks, just for starters."

It's not that they are the exceptions which prove the rule, it's that they are minor, itty-bitty punks. Fringies, who on a good day get publicity by attaching themselves to actual mass movements.

Meanwhile, on the right we've got the people waging wars, piss away hundreds of billions of dollar on corruption, wipe their *sses with the Constitution, and cause massive death and destruction.


Posted by: Barry on March 5, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Jack Kalpakian,

First, where in my message did I say Democratic Party? Nowhere, oh ok. Then why did you bring it up.

I spoke of liberals and in the 1850's and 1860's, the liberals were indeed Republican. The Republican Party was so liberal at the time that some Republicans remained liberal into the 1960's when the Civil Rights legislation came up. I don't think anybody would any longer call the Republican Party or the vast majority of its membership liberal.

Second, if you going to try and debate try to not make yourself look like a fool. Please counter my arguments with arguments, not ridiculous rants on stupidity and misquotes.

Posted by: Noah on March 5, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

tanj,

From dictionary.com:
mod·er·ate /adj., n. ˈmɒdərɪt, ˈmɒdrɪt; v. ˈmɒdəˌreɪt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[adj., n. mod-er-it, mod-rit; v. mod-uh-reyt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, noun, verb, -at·ed, -at·ing.
–adjective 1. kept or keeping within reasonable or proper limits; not extreme, excessive, or intense: a moderate price.
2. of medium quantity, extent, or amount: a moderate income.
3. mediocre or fair: moderate talent.
4. calm or mild, as of the weather.
5. of or pertaining to moderates, as in politics or religion.
–noun 6. a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views and actions, esp. in politics or religion.
7. (usually initial capital letter) a member of a political party advocating moderate reform.
–verb (used with object) 8. to reduce the excessiveness of; make less violent, severe, intense, or rigorous: to moderate the sharpness of one's words.
9. to preside over or at (a public forum, meeting, discussion, etc.).
–verb (used without object) 10. to become less violent, severe, intense, or rigorous.
11. to act as moderator; preside.

How does that describe Kos & Atrios?

Please lay out Kos & Atrios positions which are moderate as I have laid out what are liberal postions.

I guess what I am suprised by is your and several other people's resistance to being a liberal. Like I said before, moderates don't push society to change. Obviously, Kos & Atrios are pushing society to change.

So how can you call them moderate? What is moderate about them? You wouldn't say their calls to action are moderate. You at least admit that their positions are left of center. And that's the point. Moderate is the center. That's the English language defines moderate. And that is not what Kos & Atrios are. Why are you guys so resistant to this?

Posted by: Noah on March 5, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

But I recently graduated from a liberal arts school in New England, and I simply don't buy the notion that the attitudes Klein is responding to are mere phantoms.

Having escaped from two years at UC Berkeley, I can only agree.

As a partial list of current leftist fixations: welfare reform was an abomination that would only devastate poor children, overturning Roe vs. Wade makes abortion illegal, only racists oppose affirmative action, working women (as opposed to all women) make only 70 cents to the working man's dollar.

Posted by: Cal on March 5, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who was in college as recently as 8 years ago -- I understand anarcho-syndicalism was all the rage.

Posted by: dbt on March 5, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I had a post on a related subject recently: it looked at the average age of the Blue Dog Democrats in the House versus the rest of the caucus, to see if that could be a factor in their perception of where the political center lies.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) on March 5, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

I graduated from college six years ago (geez, it's been THAT long!) and I do remember the campus leftists, and how they and their professors are probably something out of a Joe Klein nightmare. But after going out into the real world, I realized that those leftist campus attitudes are relics of a time long past, not a primer of things to come. College campuses are now the only places in America where you'll find people seriously advocating a socialist revolution. And yet these people aren't taken seriously anywhere else in society. As such, they're far from a real threat. Far more dangerous are the actual legislators and lobbyists who once ensured that things like "sodomy" were criminal acts in various, mostly southern, US states.

When I was in college, I thought the geriatric Trotskyite teaching my English Lit class was the most dangerous guy in America. Now, I am far more disturbed by the state legislator who wants to control my sex life.

Posted by: Alex on March 5, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that the modern Leftists are simply trying to ensure that capitalism in the US remains well regulated and taxed progressively. We are losing on both fronts, because it is the Rightists in America who don't believe in the proposition that well regulated and progressively taxed capitalism is the great liberal idea.

Posted by: blaze on March 5, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

If you remember back to 1980 and '84, people over 65 were the least likely group to vote for the Gipper.If you remember back to 1980 and '84, people over 65 were the least likely group to vote for the Gipper.

And, they were pissed, and rightfully so, at him for cutting their benefits while cutting his own, and his friends, taxes.

Posted by: Strangely Enough on March 5, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton said she wanted to take the profits from the oil companies and "invest" them in new energy technologies. If this is not classical socialist idea, I would be interested to know why. Mind you, she is the top candidate from the Dems.

In reality, most of the Dems economic ideas can be easily traced to Karl Marx. Granted, very few of the dems actually read Karl Marx (how many of you even understand his ideas?), let alone understood him - which explains why they incessently propose very silly policies.

Posted by: gringo on March 5, 2007 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Oh my, Hieronymus Braintree--"The Courage to Heal" is quite well regarded in psychiatric recovery circles, and I cannot believe that you cite it as cultist.
As one who has conducted cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with wide numbers of sexually abused women for years ----I say you are way off base with your contentions here. Sexual abuse is a fact of life, and not some notion of feminist professors.
You may well be out of your league here."

Dear oh-ironically-named Consider Wisely Always,

1. The consensus of a self-selected group of individuals by itself doesn't mean diddly squat. If mere belief were enough to dictate reality, we would have found those WMDs and the Clintons would have actually been guilty of something in the Whitewater scandal.

2. I noticed that you didn't take up The Courage to Heal's insistence that there is a significant national Satanic Ritual Abuse problem — a problem for which the FBI could find no evidence and from which earlier believers have backed away en masse. It's authors continue to defend the McMartin pre-school witch hunt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMartin_preschool — see also http://www.smwane.dk/content/view/123/30/) and the insane memories of non-events created by therapists such as yourself. So, how about it? You think kids saw their teachers fly on broomsticks? And what about that labyrynth of tunnels where the abuse supposedly took place that nobody could find? Whatever became of them?

3. I said that incest was probably more like the 2% cited by Kinsey rather than the ridiculous 50% cited in The Courage to Heal. Your reponse was to say "Sexual abuse is a fact of life, and not some notion of feminist professors" as if I were trying to deny its horror and existence when I clearly wasn't. I was only contesting the magnitude This is exactly the sort of thing that has given feminism a justified reputation for stridency and helps make rat bastards like Rush Limbaugh appear reasonable.

Thank you so much for helping me prove my point.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on March 5, 2007 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Having escaped from two years at UC Berkeley, I can only agree. As a partial list of current leftist fixations: welfare reform was an abomination that would only devastate poor children, overturning Roe vs. Wade makes abortion illegal, only racists oppose affirmative action, working women (as opposed to all women) make only 70 cents to the working man's dollar.
Posted by: Cal

Had you stuck out those last 2 years, you may have learned something that would make your post worth consideration.

Currently, it just reads as if written by a whiny white guy.

Posted by: Nads on March 5, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

>Had you stuck out those last 2 years, you may >have learned something that would make your post >worth consideration.

Only people who studied at least 4 years at Berkeley have views, which worth consideration?

>Currently, it just reads as if written by a >whiny white guy.

Are you a whine black guy?

Posted by: gringo on March 5, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

A potential correction. According to one source The Courage to Heal claimed that 50% of all women have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. According to another it's 25%. I'm not sure which, but one-in-four is still a huge, unsubstantiated number. Kinsey's 2% remains far more like it and 2% is disgusting enough.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on March 5, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Only people who studied at least 4 years at Berkeley have views, which worth consideration?

certainly beats stanfurd.


Are you a whine black guy?
Posted by: gringo

don't be silly ... the sound of a white male complaining about how the world is somehow out to deny him his due via affirmative action and women's lib makes a distinctive squeak.

Posted by: Nads on March 5, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You never quite say: as a progressive, are you for busing or against it? Or is it still "on the table"?

Posted by: Grant Bubsey on March 5, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Amen, Kevin. You really get it.

Posted by: reader on March 6, 2007 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK
Hillary Clinton said ...If this is not classical socialist idea...gringo o
You really haven't a clue. Why not read up on socialism then learn how to quote someone correctly. She was talking about excess profits, as exemplified by the obscene profiteering of oil corporations. Posted by: Mike on March 6, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Dear "reader". I was quite amused reading your response.

>>Hillary Clinton said ...If this is not >>classical socialist idea...gringo

>You really haven't a clue. Why not read up on >socialism then learn how to quote someone >correctly. She was talking about excess profits, >as exemplified by the obscene profiteering of >oil corporations.

Let me put it this way to you, child. I know what socialism is very well. I also know the socialistic ideology, and what assumptions Karl Marx made to derive his theory of the surplus value, as well as the assumptions of Lenin. You can trust me on that.

If you doubt that Hillary's idea of nationalizing the profits of the oil industry is socialistic, I challenge you to define the terms you used to describe the profits of the oil companies (excess profits, obscene profiteering) without using the marxist-leninist assumptions, or using the moral outrage instead of logic. The fact that you are not familiar with marxism-leninism is no excuse, as you know. I would also want you to explain the economic basis for presuming that taking away the profits from the oil companies is good for society.

Are you up to the task?

Posted by: gringo on March 7, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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