Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

"TWO YEARS OF SLOW BLEED"....I didn't think anyone overused clauses set off by dashes — like this one — as much as I did, but in his latest column Joe Klein manages to use four in five consecutive sentences. That's impressive. It's going to be hard — though not impossible — for me to top that.

And the column itself? Here it is: "I've tried to be respectful of the man and the office, but the three defining sins of the Bush Administration—arrogance, incompetence, cynicism—are congenital: they're part of his personality. They're not likely to change. And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead."

Yeah, we hear you. Except for a few things. It's not really arrogance, is it? More like barroom obstinance. And not quite cynicism, either. Closer to partisanship and paranoia gone psychopathic. And I'd change "not likely" to something a little stronger. Let's say, "Pigs will orbit Mars before this changes." And finally, that "difficult to imagine" part isn't quite right either. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to imagine.

Other than that, it's perfect!

Kevin Drum 11:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (83)

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you want hard to imagine? i'll give you hard to imagine: it's hard to imagine that a seemingly intelligent human being like joe klein took until april of 2007 to notice how enormously unsuited george bush is for the presidency.

in fact, that's unimaginable, so it must not be true. i really appreciate everything that klein has done to try and keep bush from gaining office (by throwing his strong support to al gore in 2000) and then to keep him from being re-elected (by noticing how breathtakingly arrogant, incompetent, and cynical the bush administration is, loudly, every time he was on tv).

what's that you say? i'm the one imagining things?

Posted by: howard on April 5, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I find it profoundly sad that this tiny man has been our president for one and a half terms. I hope that other Democrats follow the example of Speaker Pelosi and offer a hand to other countries, if only to plead with them to hang on until we get rid of this scourge.

I wish it would be useful to impeach him and his VP, but the Democratic Congress seems to have him on the ropes. That will, at least, attenuate further damage.

Posted by: Lucy on April 5, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm amazed ......

when I look at my life, I feel it goes by so quickly - it's April 2007 already!

yet, when I think about time in terms of the Bush continuum, I feel like January 2009 will never get here.

Close to two more years of this guy. It is really depressing.

Posted by: maureen on April 5, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Weren't pigs supposed to orbiting Mars by now, based on Bush's early SOTU addresses? Or was it that pigs would be off steroids by now. So much inspiration, it's hard to know where to begin...

Posted by: Kenji on April 5, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

The thing about Klein is that he's just so fucking late to the party. Bush is finished, and now along comes the mighty Klein to tell us so. Isn't the job of a pundit to be ahead of the curve, not behind it, as Klein and his cohort always are? Isn't this entirely too late to matter?

So he burnishes his "liberal" credentials by piling on an already finished Bush. Will he stop making the same lame character-based attacks against Democratic candidates that he has been for the past six years? Probably not. Will he get out and attack the Republican candidates on character issues like he does the Democratic ones? Probably not. Bush is the past; attacking him now is almost pointless. So is Joe Klein.

Posted by: Martin Gale on April 5, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK


I hope that other Democrats follow the example of Speaker Pelosi and offer a hand to other countries, if only to plead with them to hang on until we get rid of this scourge.

That's one of the most insightful things I've read in the comments section in a long long time.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 5, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't there be a Pundit Review Board, or something? There aren't many jobs where you can get things wrong 90% of the time and keep getting paid. Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Kenji on April 5, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Well, yes it is arrogance. To imagine that they could do the things they did to sell the war, and to imagine those things would never come around to bite them on the ass--that is arrogance.

Arrogance in government carries a whiff of authoritarianism. It's making the decision to do the wrong thing based on the calculation that they could maintain a Norquist-predicted, Rove-predicted, permanent majority. Nothing more arrogant than that. Cynicism is also swirling around there in bucketloads, but don't ask me to parse the half-assed English of Joe Klein.

Posted by: djangone on April 5, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK


Please don't remind us that Bush's vow to put a man on Mars
(insert snickers and raspberries here)
means that someone has to update whitey 's on the moon.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 5, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

There aren't many jobs where you can get things wrong 90% of the time and keep getting paid.

Other than, well, every single job in the Bush Administration, you mean?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 5, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I see where you're coming from, Kevin...people sometimes admire arrogance. You're removing all possibility that there could be any positive connotation.

Posted by: djangone on April 5, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dubya probably was forced to recant his belief in the existence of Mars, because admitting there are other planets--or even other countries--is evidence of satanism.

djangone, maybe things will change a little now that many politicians have heard of the Daily Show--you know, that they have them newfangled video playback machines.

Posted by: Kenji on April 5, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bush, of course, is not Hitler--Hitler was far more competent.

Posted by: rea on April 5, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is a sociopath. His demand for complete loyalty, and the almost incestuous nature of the inner circle may yet be his undoing.

Klein dismisses the US Attorney debacle as "a relatively minor matter". But who actually knows where this will lead? How involved in the politicization of the position of US Attorney was Gonzalez, Meier, Rove? If all these, then Bush? What will the RNC e-mails turn up? Was the basic justification for promotion to this position to influence election outcome?

Two things seem plain. The reasoning behind the firings is sufficiently suspect to cause members of the administration to lie, hide (plead the 5th), lose their memory. The process used has been deliberately devoid of any paper trail or e-mail record. We are asked to believe thet these firings were brought about by someone wet behind the ears keeping a disposable loose file in his "bottom right draw" and everything else was by word of mouth.

Not exactly how I would want to operate.

I would hope that if the senate find sufficient cause that they would appoint a special investigator to root to the bottom of this sorry mess.

Posted by: notthere on April 5, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the autobahn.

And ethanol.

Posted by: Kenji on April 5, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

...people sometimes admire arrogance....

Posted by: djangone on April 5, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Only people with misplaced values.

Posted by: notthere on April 6, 2007 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I happen to be proud of the strides this man has made as President.

I remember him back during the early years, 1999-2000, when he was young and eager and the world was his oyster. Cheney was supposed to mentor him.

Fast forward to today. A much more thoughtful man, with a visceral impulse to lead, navigating an unlucky course he didn't lead and which no one enveis. Now, an increasingly unpopular Cheney fades into the background to let the President lead. Bush has even ribbed the VP in public.

But the Bush Haters are too blinded with their hatred to see anything but hatred.

Posted by: egbert on April 6, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Other than that, it's perfect!

Well actually no.
On reflection shouldn't it be "8 years of slow bleed"?

Or to quote Osama:
"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah"

Now it is is perfect.....

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 6, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

A course he didn't choose, egbert? How the hell did we end up in Iraq then?

Why don't you google the dead from your area and go knock on the doors of their family members and tell them what you just posted? See what kind of reception you get from those who have actually sacrificed something.

I do hate George Bush egbert. With every fiber of my being, because I care about this country and the people who serve it. And I put you, as a loyal fellating bootlick right down there in the depths of feckless depravity with your hero, the aWol chickenhawk. You really are a pathetic excuse of humanity and a waste of skin.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 6, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush isn't Hitler, he's Napoleon III.

Posted by: pbg on April 6, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

It's the retardedness.

He's just mentally and emotionally unfit for the job.

He should be an SVP of "Business Development" in his Daddy's company, and drinking his lunch every day.

Posted by: grytpype on April 6, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

It is sad. How many more talking points on turning corners do we yet endure before the MSM collapses under the collective outrage of our wounded nation? The administration is so craven they send out ambassadors under the cover of darkness. Their "justice" department will not testify under fear of perjury and criminal sanction. It is getting tough to stage a decent photo op. Soon they will need clap tracks and canned crowd reaction. Sadly, no amount of humiliation or disgrace will drive them to resign--impeachment is the only way. Wish Congress would do us that honor.

Posted by: Sparko on April 6, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

The Rule of Opposites

Remember you read this here first because it is going to make me a rich man someday (haha), but I only think you can understand Bush by what I call the "Rule of Opposites"(TRO). TRO states that people's actions are often opposite of their capabilities. You see this in fights all of the time. The most belligerent people in the world are often pencil-necked geeks who wouldn't last 5 seconds in the fight they are trying so hard to start. On the other hand, people who are actually formidable fighters often tend to be extremely calm and well-mannered.

TRO is kind of like the 'Peter Principle' on steroids, the person least suited to manage is probably most likely to crave the executive suite. Observe Pres. Bush in the light of the TRO and all of his actions: the swagger, instant decision making, and obsession with being a steely-willed leader, make sense.

However, as so many have pointed out, his shortcomings should have been crystal clear to anyone who studied the man for over 5 minutes, so how we was elected (and re-elected) to the Presidency will have to go down as one of the greatest mysteries of modern American politics.

James M.

Posted by: James M. on April 6, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

He was the fucking governor when we were stationed at Shepard AFB. I had a big head start on hating the putz.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 6, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Next up: Joe Klein takes on Nixon!

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2007 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

how we was elected (and re-elected) to the Presidency will have to go down as one of the greatest mysteries of modern American politics.

It's not that mysterious. He was an empty suit's empty suit, who had a convenient name, and who was put in place by moneyed interests to help push through policies that would benefit themselves. They were able to do this because they'd spent decades building a propaganda machine, backed by a cadre of indoctrinated authoritarian religious zealots. With this apparatus, they (barely) managed to get their chimp into office twice, long enough to steal everything that they could.

Posted by: jimBOB on April 6, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

If you don't like "arrogance, incompetence and cynicism" how about "bullying, incompetence and evil" -- closer to the mark, you think?

Come to think of it, those three are pretty much the hallmark of all authoritarian regimes.

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2007 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

It's not wrong to hate the guy murdering your children. He believes in abortion, after all--but only for kids over 18.

Posted by: Kenji on April 6, 2007 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Uh, James M--he wasn't exactly elected. Clouds of controversy followed this man's "election" like methane follows a soiled adult diaper. Knowing the depth of their collective mendacity, even 9-11 seems likely to house at least some conspiratorial truth. I am not sure for what sins America is being punished (it could be everything from atomic bombs to napalm), but this scourge called Bush is causing the entire nation to projectile-purge itself of any remaining delusions of national superiority we have previously entertained. We are dry-heaving currently, and swearing to never drink again. Even so, damned if the media isn't still holding a fresh Schnapps bottle, a funnel, and a cattle prod. SOBs.

Posted by: Sparko on April 6, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

A comment was made here at the Washington Monthly before the 1994 election - it might have been Kevin but I don't remember- that the reason that George W Bush HAD TO win the election was otherwise the scandals would start coming out. It took until 2006 for the Democrats to win an election and, guess what, the scandals started coming out. What I am waiting for is The REALLY BIG ONE to come out - the scandal that surprises people who are blase about just how bad this Administration is. The reason Alberto Gonzales is so important is that is the key to everything. For over six years now he has put a gloss of legality on every crooked, underhanded, dispicable thing that Bush has wanted to do. How does the President replace him? How does he get a Democratic Senate to appoint someone that will legitamize ANYTHING that Bush wants to do. The one thing that George Bush can not abide is ANYBODY telling him he can't do something. The whole point and purpose of all the toadies around him (like Gonzales) is to tell him he can do whatever he wants, especially Dick Cheney. Within a few months the President's Secretay of Defense, a member of the Iraq Study Group, is going to tell the President that we gave it the old college try in Iraq, but it is time to consider other options. I expect that because the man is not a toadie. What happens when the AG is not a toadie? Does Bush have to face the fact that there are limits to his power? And does The REALLY BIG ONE come out - or does that have to wait until Bush leaves office? You can't suppress the truth forever.

Posted by: Jim in Colorado on April 6, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

You meant the 2004 election, right?

Posted by: Kenji on April 6, 2007 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Jim in Colorado on April 6, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Just in case anybody cares, I am posting this from low (600km) Mars orbit using my extreme range wireless Crackberry.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on April 6, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

"...arrogance, incompetence, cynicism...

No, wait. Our four most dangerous weapons are...

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on April 6, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Jim in CO: You forgot Poland.

Seriously, I think you are right about Gonzo--so many administration skeletons are hidden with his direct complicity that he cannot be allowed to stray from the fold. The House of Bush is predicated upon the key players remaining loyal, else it becomes a house of cards. May have already--lots of defections. Lots of folks scrambling before the indictments fall.

Posted by: Sparko on April 6, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Jim in CO: Gates isn't a toady. But he is craven to the core, and he's got a self-preservation instinct that is singular in it's focus. He was up to his eyeballs in the Iran-Contra fiasco, and got away clean - not because he did nothing wrong, but becasue he was better at covering his tracks than the rest of that sorry cast and crew. (I'm no fan of Gates, but the reasons are complex. Part of it is a first degree relative who retired from the NSA and has always been in Inman's corner.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 6, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

from the link about Napoleon III : Our troops are hunkered down in the Green Zone like the French in Sedan (or Dienbienphu, but let's not muck up the simile)--in a completely useless position, just getting picked up one by one, or tent by ten. They are still a formidable force, if they could fight with flexibility, choosing their battles--but no no no! L'Empereur cannot be seen to retreat, to run from a battle! and so they sit there, and the besieging forces keep pounding them.

That's a good one.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 6, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

There aren't many jobs where you can get things wrong 90% of the time and keep getting paid.

Other than, well, every single job in the Bush Administration, you mean?

And the music industry. A&R in particular.

Posted by: Vladi G on April 6, 2007 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

A much more thoughtful man,

Ten times zero is zero.

with a visceral impulse to lead,

I.e., he leads by visceral impulses, not by thought. Unfortunately, his visceral impulses are dumb as rocks.

navigating an unlucky course he didn't lead

He has an impulse to lead, but he doesn't actually lead.

Now, an increasingly unpopular Cheney fades into the background to let the President lead.

He doesn't actually lead because Cheney was leading. But we all knew that.

Bush has even ribbed the VP in public.

Unfortunately Cheney's visceral impulses are also dumb as rocks, and even Bush laughs at him now.

Posted by: bobb on April 6, 2007 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Defense of Joe Klein (humor me for a moment) -

I don't think it's the case that Joke Line and other Broder-y types actually have their heads in the sand. I think they know the deal as well as we do and even better. After all, they get to talk to freaks like Libby and Goodling and Samson etc. at parties, and they don't just see ignorance, arrogance, and cynicism - they see the emptiness, that there's no there there. So they're cautious, yes, but also terrified - if people really knew how useless this gang was, what would hold the country together? They're cowards, no doubt, but not blind and their motives are not entirely selfish; I think they're really worried for their country.

Posted by: lampwick on April 6, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

James M.

The Rule of Opposites is one of those rather pretty ideas that only holds if you are selective with the evidence. Ghandi/Mike Tyson sort of goes aginst the run of the hypothesis.

How about studying behavior. There's a greater body of research there. Sociopath seems to fit. It wouldn't matter if GW was the wimp he tries sooo hard not to be or an intelligent 250lb linebacker because his means of doing damage bear no relationship to muscle power.

As to "one of the greatest mysteries of modern American politics", not really. For the first election he lied through his teeth ("uniter", etc.) and stole it in Florida. Second time around, he lied through his teeth, may have stolen it to a degree, and relied on the loyalty of the US citizens to stand behind the President.

Hopefully, if nothing else, he may have taught the US nation to exercise greater critical ability in the case for use of force, and careful cynicism towards the motivations of administrations.

In short, US voters and the media are far too trusting and respectful towards their politicians. And often for no good reason.

Posted by: notthere on April 6, 2007 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK
Weren't pigs supposed to orbiting Mars ...Kenji at 11:28 PM
Nah, wingers now are in a lather that Mars is undergoing global warming. They don't want to go there now.

Bush is arrogant and stubborn. His refusal to learn from experience is astonishing. His bubble is in his own mind. If you look deeply into his eyes, you will probably see the back of his skull. I'm certain that he believes his constant repetition of his talking points convinces people.

The Attorney brouhaha is just the tip of the iceberg. The GSA political scandal will be discovered to be standard operating procedure. Everything in this regime is political and/or designed to help business at the expense of consumer and environmental protection.

The Republican Party is responsible for Bush. Not one of them had the intestinal fortitude to counter him except Sen. James Jeffords. The rest are spineless sheep.

Bush is immature to the point of being a snotty school yard bully. He recess appointment of Sam Fox is a slap in the face to the democratic senate and his others have been nothing less then attempts to overthrow the proper function of government agencies.

Any sane President would recognize the new situation and adapt. Bush cannot. A sane President would have given political blessings to the Pelosi group and co-opted them. Bush is still playing his tired old Rovian games to stir up his ever decreasing base.

His approval is 17% in New Hampshire, 26% in California. That's Nixon territory with over a year to go. We can only hope some investigation will uncover something so egregious that it will convince a plurality in the senate to accept the impeachment of both.

Why these so-called pundits are just now turning is bizarre. Haven't they been paying attention or did they have so much ego involvement in their previous support they were blinded to his faults?
Perhaps they disliked having to admit that Bush's liberal opponents were correct so they stuck it out with him just for spite.

Posted by: Mike on April 6, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

No one in the MSM anticipated that their darling not-Gore candiate would be this bad.

Posted by: gregor on April 6, 2007 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Some people run for office because they want to do something.

aWol ran for office because he wanted to do something.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 6, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

To JimBob, Sparko, and Notthere,

Good points all, especially concerning the anecdotal nature of my 'Rule of Opposites'. However, I see it everyday: a traffic light will be changing and a frail 80+ year-old, who doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of making it across before the change, will be the first person to venture into the street! For a more pertinent example, consider all of the seemingly mild-manner pundits who were so vociferous in their support of the Iraq War. Can you imagine George Will in combat?

I guess the real mystery for me was that I had been a sort of a true believer: I really believed that our political system worked and that the MSM would conscientiously carry out its adversarial role. It took me a long time to recover from my shock, as did Neo, when he learned the MSM was (paraphrased) "Just another cog in the system of control".

James M

Posted by: James M. on April 6, 2007 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Unfortunately, it's all too easy to imagine."

I am afraid I have to disagree. Could anyone have imagined Bush's response to Katrina and Schiavo even six months before they happened? These events were so beyond the imaginable that they were beyond the limits of satire.

When trying to imagine the next two years you have to remember DeLong's maxim.

"Experience teaches that the Bush administration is worse than we imagine--even after taking account of the fact that the Bush adminisntration is worse than we imagine."

Posted by: swio on April 6, 2007 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

James M. My husband went through a similar catharsis, he had been convinced that one man could not do the level of damage Bush has managed to do.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 6, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

James M --

Thank god it's bed time. You just pushed my button. Somebody I try not to think about.

George Will is like a red rag to me. Worst pundit ever. EVER. He doesn't get anything right that matters. Not Bush, not Iraq, not the environment, not social policy. And he is so sincerely and superciliously oblivious to his shortcomings. Aaaaah!

Deep breath. Close eyes. OK...OK. Exhale.

Bedtime. Perchance to dream. But if I have nightmares I'm blaming you.

Posted by: notthere on April 6, 2007 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Closer to partisanship and paranoia gone psychopathic.

Well, there were markers - like his penchant for killing frogs with lit firecrackers between the ages of 8-12. Done repeatedly, even after being caught. Sure sign of a future psychopath. Now he sticks firecrackers down the throats of soldiers.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 6, 2007 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

As you infer. He graduated.

From psycopath to sociopath. Word.


Posted by: notthere on April 6, 2007 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Joe "Primary Colors by Anonymous" Klein once again demonstrates his dubious talent for belatedly re-stating as an original thought what's been painfully obvious to most everyone else.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 6, 2007 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

How can impeachment only be exercised on a President for lying about private consentual sex, and be off the table for this Man Who Would Be King?
Certainly, high crimes and misdemenors are the Bush cabal's signature mode of operation.
What's been wrought upon our Country...our Democracy...our Constitution...our standing in the world...must be excised by the Rule of Law and the Constitution. These crimes must be exposed and prosecuted - no more "Nixon" pardons. All that the Republicans learned from Watergate was Burn-The-Tapes. Since they havn't learned to respect the Law, then, by God, they must learn to fear the Law.

Posted by: ardbark on April 6, 2007 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

you yanks never tire of dumping on Europe but you realize that if you had a parliamentary system Bush would have been leading a minority gov't that would have fallen years ago thereby saving the world so much pitiful crap. You slobber over your constitution like a pubescent schoolboy over hot new teacher but maybe it's time you admit it's full of flaws and in need of a serious upgrade.

Posted by: brit of my brit on April 6, 2007 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

The payoff to the whole piece is what you find if you follow the link to Joe Klein's blog:

"In which the author has a few things to say about the Bush Administration.
NO! I am not hinting at impeachment. There are no "high crimes" here. Just a really bad presidency. In fact, I consider impeachment talk counterproductive and slightly nutso."

Interesting little dichotomy between Print and the Web, eh?

Posted by: xaxnar on April 6, 2007 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK

I understand the first NASA mission to send swine to the Red Planet is in the works. Nice rant, Kevin. You try to avoid personal attacks, but this Bush guy just begs for them....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 6, 2007 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

The very simple answer to all of the president's conduct is untreated alcoholism. I have been to thousands of AA meetings and I have heard variations of the Bush story hundreds of times--not from presidents, naturally--but from men and women in all walks of life who have, at times been literally stark raving sober for lack of a program to treat their alcoholism. The President needs a meeting. I'm not in a position to say what the rest of the Bush administration needs, but I'd settle for a pension so that others could govern

Posted by: declan byrne on April 6, 2007 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

"perfect?" What about the ludicrous lie he tells himself and everyone else: That Bush hasn't committed "high crimes?"

Really, Joe Klein is clearly delusional if he thinks Bush hasn't committed high crimes enough to warrant impeachment. His own attorney general instructed him to claim the Geneva Conventions didn't apply because AGAG was concerned that "future prosecutors" could make a case for WAR CRIMES.

Bush should be arrested and hauled before the ICC and charged as a WAR CRIMINAL for what he's done--or does the Charter of the United Nations not mean anything to Kevin Drum or Joe Klein anymore? God, where is the intellectual honesty!?

Posted by: Brighid on April 6, 2007 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

"But the Bush Haters are too blinded with their hatred to see anything but hatred."

Egbert, shouldn't you be off somewhere weeping for your country?

Bush had 90% approval ratings after 9/11. At the *most*, 10% of the country were "Bush haters."

If he'd looked to find common ground among Americans, there's no way he'd be staring at 30%-ish approval ratings right now.

Instead, President Swayze and his "my way or the highway" nonsense pissed away 60% of the American public.

Posted by: BongCrosby on April 6, 2007 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Me? I looove the em dash.

Posted by: jay ackroyd on April 6, 2007 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Why did Joe Klein finally turn?

My hunch is that he's been beaten up so much by posters at his Time blog, Swampland, that it's beginning to have an effect. Or maybe he's just tired of being beaten up by posters so he's tossed them some red meat.

Either way, he's way too late.

Posted by: kimster on April 6, 2007 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I believe it was stylistic tics like over-using dashes that led to Klein's outing in the Primary Colors affair. The original New York article is not on the web...

Posted by: Chris Conway on April 6, 2007 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French or Latin, Middle French cynique, from Latin cynicus, from Greek kynikos, literally, like a dog, from kyn-, kyOn dog -- more at HOUND

1: an adherent of an ancient Greek school of philosophers who held the view that virtue is the only good and that its essence lies in self-control and independence

2 : a faultfinding captious critic; especially : one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest


Personally, I think this definition is incomplete because it is missing a lot of what my understanding of cynicism is. (I resemble that remark!)

The core meaning to me includes not just a mistrust of other individuals (or rather trusting that others are motiviated by their own self-interest/agenda), but that those in power at any level, are not really working for the common good.

Also, once you are in a position of power/authority, don't you really give up the right to be a cynic? Or maybe Bush is just the ultimate cynic.

Posted by: mezon on April 6, 2007 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

> I don't think it's the case that Joke Line and
> other Broder-y types actually have their heads in
> the sand. I think they know the deal as well as we
> do and even better. After all, they get to talk
> to freaks like Libby and Goodling and Samson etc.
> at parties, and they don't just see ignorance,
> arrogance, and cynicism - they see the emptiness,
> that there's no there there. So they're cautious,
> yes, but also terrified - if people really knew
> how useless this gang was, what would hold the
> country together

Nice try on exonerating Klein, but I don't buy it. One of the standard tricks that corporate organizational development people use is to take the leaders of warring factions and send them to two-weeks "leadership training" courses where they must work, eat, sleep, live, and sometimes even literally survive together. It is very hard to remain at odds with even your worst enemy in that kind of environment, so by the end of the course the factions usually have reached at least some sort of working truce. Guess what the Washington DC press corps does? Spends their time working, eating, and playing with "senior administration officials". It doesn't take long for them to start accepting the "SAOs'" world views as reality.


Posted by: Cranky Observer on April 6, 2007 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Klein and other "pundits" aren't just waking up-they realize that this gravy train is reaching the station and they are going to have to get on a new train. They're just gathering up their baggage and preparing for the next leg of their journey. It will be hard for them to defend this administration and at the same time get on board with a new administration that proposes to change how things are done. They are called "pundits" for the fact that they can see the 2008 station coming up the tracks.

Posted by: Neal on April 6, 2007 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

How did Joe Klein get a job at TIME?

Did he get the liberal columnist veiw point position BECAUSE of the fact that he really sucks so badly? That he truly seems retarded as writers go. Why are we still seeing a press that is desperately trying to downplay the catastrophic events of this administration? And thus hire old Joe Klein just to make the irrelevant point of so-called liberal view?

After 9/11 it was "a failure of imagaination" even as we find out Bush knew about the pending attacks by terrorist - in way that is truly nothing short of gross criminal negligence at the very least perhaps even a premeditated need to find some reason to invade Iraq.

Was it just letting those "hijackers" take the planes so that the administration would have SOME public reason to invade Iraq, kill Saddam and void out oil contracts belonging exclusively to Russia, Germany, France and China? Iraqi oil contracts now belong exclusively to Western oil contractors, and it is no accident and certainly it isn't freedom for Iraqis not to have any control over their one major financial resource - since Iraqis have no other choice now, do they?
Bush lied about WMD, and freedom of Saddam to take the oil. That is fact in issue.

Why did Bush tell that intelligence official who gave him the August 6th briefing, the warning that "terrorist were determined to attack in the US" that CIA official had "covered his ass" but then Bush fail so miserably to cover his own? Did Bush not want that August 6th briefing? Another bit of news he preferred to stay oblivious to because it's better not to incriminate ones self.

Bush sit there for 10 minutes in that classroom BECAUSE he knew what was going down. Bush had been warned back on August 6th of that year of terrorist determined to hijack planes, Rice was warned too, so now Bush knew what was going down and did nothing.

WHY did Bush tell Richard Clarke to outright lie and tell Americans it was Iraq that caused 9/11? Bush didn't seem to want to waste any time in Afghanistan, never cared if we got Bin Laden die or alive or simply not at all.

During the aftermath of hurricane Katrine, Bush sit on his ass for an entire week, watching people die. WHERE the hell were the national guard? It was then as it is now and will always be excusable that Bush waited an entire week and doing nothing except to tell Mr. Brownie on TV, that he was doing a heck-of-job while Bush did nothing himself but as the declared DECIDER and Commander and Chief, Bush could have order the national guard into New Orleans the day after - so WHY did he?

The Bush administration is not now, nor ever has been a "slow bleed". Every since Bush was patricianly coroneted as the new US king by 5 brutally partisian Justices, it been a major hemorrhaging of wrong.

So that even as Joe Klein stands in a blood bath, he's just now decided that thinking the word impeachment if not outright saying it, in his this little sham of a column is to be what? A prelude for another dense and pretty, slimy column in the next months issue of TIME Mag where Klein gets to waste paper again with another column whereby Klein actually, might faintly heartedly use the word "impeachment", as if the word would have any significance coming from a deadbeat, brainless wonder like Joe Klein anyway.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 6, 2007 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer,

Excellent description of Suzanne Malveaux and others of her ilk at CNN.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 6, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

It's actually not this either: Closer to partisanship and paranoia gone psychopathic.

It's corruption and criminal behavior that uses partisanship and paranoia to keep the matter crime hidden.

Bush is using partisan politics to cover-up criminal acts from wiretapping, to torture, to dividing up Iraq in his energy task force with high ranking oil barrons in a meeting just months before Bush ignore his August 6th briefing and therefore the events of 9/11.

I mean, why divide up Iraq oil fields when all the oil contracts in Iraq belong to foreign countries unless Bush was plotting a war with Iraq and pre-planning to otherthrow Saddam.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 6, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

The pig headed thinking that sends the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth loyalist to Brussels by a recess appointment is the same mind set group that 'rules' the earth's most powerful country.
It is sad and sad and scary.
Truly, Bush needs to be removed from office.

Posted by: Craig Johnson on April 6, 2007 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

>"Bush is finished"

Don't count him out yet... he has 18 months of opportunity for destruction remaining in his term. His biggest chance for hanging onto power is for another major terror event to occur in
the USA.

So hang on.

Posted by: Buford on April 6, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

One can scale disillusionment with the Bushies by the adjectives chosen to explain what Klein calls, "the sins of the Bush Administration." On the far right of this scale, you have adjectives such as "visionary", "transformational" and "brilliant." On the far left, terms such as "evil", "pure evil", and "evil incarnate." The term "incompetent" falls near the middle, slightly to the right of "arrogant" or "cynical." So we can tell that Klein is still confused and still not seeing the reality in front of him by the terms that he thinks are sufficient to describe Bushco's sins.

"Incompetence" is soft. People choose "incompetent" when they still give Bushco credit for intending to do the right thing for America. "Incompetence" implies that Bushco shares the goals and vision with the American people, but, oops!, made some mistakes in the execution.

Later, as one tries to account for the persistence and defiance of Bushco's actions, his indifference to the will of the American people, one starts using "arrogant" and "cynical." One might say, for example, that it is "arrogant" or "cynical" of Bushco to make recess appointments of partisan hacks and political operatives who would never be confirmed by Congress. This is where Klein is--he still assumes that Bushco actually want the same America that he wants, though their execution leaves something to be desired. And he is a little surprised that they keep doing some things that seem, well, defiant.

However, language starts to fail for those of us who have started to comprehend that Bushco is 1) deeply competent; 2) have a vision of America that is radically different from that of most Americans; 3) believe that their superior vision justifies any means; 4) recognize that most Americans would oppose their superior vision so it is necessary to con as many as possible, as long as possible; 5) view their task as dismantling the existing institutions (government, treaties, nations, allies, Constitution, etc.) in order to implement their superior new world order.

We end up at "evil" etc, because at some point all one has left is inarticulate broad evaluation. "Dangerous" or "destructive" are too imprecise. "Malicious" or "Machivellian" not visceral enough. "Con artists" insufficient, "Psychopathic" too technical. Worst.President.Ever points the finger at an individual, when the rot extends through an entire cabal.

We have a Constitutional crisis--this deceiving, manipulative administration was elected in 2004. We have no good way to remove the rot until 2008. We could impeach individuals, but what we need to do is scour the entire executive branch and trim the judicial. We need an American equivalent of a Nuremberg trial with GWB and Cheney seated in the dock. We need to expose who has benefited from their administration. But that isn't going to happen because some percentage of ignorant Americans still think Bushco is the best thing to happen to the USA ever and others, like Klein, still live in denial.

Posted by: PTate in FR on April 6, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 6, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.”
—James Madison

pssst... brit of my brit, I can't help but notice that Tony Blair is still PM.

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 6, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK


Good point about Blair...but he only retains power because the Labour Party has him more firmly in line than the Republicans do Bush. If he did anything that Labour thought would further damage their electoral future, he'd find himself in the same spot as Maggie Thatcher did almost 30 years ago. Do you think that Labour wasn't sending a strong message to Blair that if he escalated the situation with Iran, that it would be his last act as PM?

If the American people had the will to remove the president, then they wouldn't punish Democrats for trying to do so. Democrats that talked of impeachment would be getting lots of press and public support. The fact is most Americans think that 2 more years of Bush is not as bad as a constitutional dust-up to remove the president and VP. I think that's only because most Americans are either ignorant of, or don't care about, the loss of international standing of the US, and the untold horror being visited on Iraq by the Bush Administration. This is a morally untenuous position for the US public to hold. Blair's continued seat at the top of the British government is not a sign that the parliamentary system is no better than the US presidential/congressional system, nor is it a sign that the British are as unconcerned about their image abroad as Americans.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on April 6, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Blair's continued seat at the top of the British government is not a sign that the parliamentary system is no better than the US presidential/congressional system, nor is it a sign that the British are as unconcerned about their image abroad as Americans.
Posted by: Dismayed Liberal

Agreed. But the tone employed my the poster I was responding to was pointlessly snide. The faults here do not lie in our Constitution per se but in a Congress witch willfully and corruptly abrogated their responsibilities. We're also saddled with an executive branch which has appropriated to itself powers which the Constitution does not grant.

I simply cannot understand that when 70% of the American public did not want impeachment of Clinton, Congress did just that and now that approximately 70% are in favor of impeachment, the Congress refuses to do so. Makes no sense whatsoever, except that the Democrats wish to continue to use Bush's malfeasance as a political lever. That's unconscionable if true.

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 6, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK



Posted by: MsNThrope on April 6, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

PS, regarding Pelosi and the Logan Act, etc:

Now the right and even MSM are piling on Pelosi for the Syria visit, and shaking on her for supposedly violating the Logan Act. However, it says one must "...with
intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any
officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the
United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States,..." and "without
the authority of the United States" [meaning who?]

In any case now it should be told that Republicans (mostly) negotiated against
Clinton re Kosovo in 1999, subject to confirmation:


Yugoslavia: U.S. Legislators Defend Duma Talks On Kosovo

By K.P. Foley

Washington, 14 May 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Several U.S. legislators who worked out
a Kosovo peace proposal with a delegation from Russia's parliament defended
their actions Thursday against sharp criticism from fellow members of
Congress as well as the State Department.

The group of 11 members of the House of Representatives is sponsoring a
resolution that calls on President Bill Clinton's Administration and the
leaders of the House and U.S. Senate to support their joint Russian-American
effort. The resolution would not have the force of law, but approval would
add more pressure on the Clinton Administration and the NATO alliance to end
the air offensive against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Despite its non-binding status, Undersecretary of State for
Politico-Military Affairs Thomas Pickering told a hearing of the House
International Relations Committee that the initiative was an "uncoordinated
free-lance," effort.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had already tried and
failed to convince the congressional group to withdraw its proposal from
consideration. Her spokesman -- James Rubin -- said the State Department did
not, in his words, welcome a proliferation of envoys.

The leader of the congressional group, Representative Curt Weldon -- a
Republican from the northeastern state of Pennsylvania -- told Thursday's
hearing that his group did not consider itself to be a negotiating team. He

"Our goal was to not negotiate. We laid out at the outset, with a State
Department employee with us the entire time, that we were here to support
our administration and its five NATO objectives. And what we said is that we
want to try to reach a parameter, a parameter for negotiations to move

Weldon said his group, which was comprised of six Republicans, four
Democrats and the lone Independent member of Congress, met with the Duma
delegation on April 30 and May 1 in Vienna. Weldon said they met at the
invitation of the Russians, who first proposed traveling as a group to
Belgrade for a meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Weldon said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott advised against
meeting Milosevic but did encourage the legislators to meet with the Duma
members at a neutral site.
Abercrombie said he and his fellow delegation members are convinced that,
"using the good offices of Russia offers the best chance for successful
negotiations to end the war in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia."

© 1995-1999 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Posted by: Neil B. on April 6, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

MsNThrope: "But the tone employed my the poster I was responding to was pointlessly snide. The faults here do not lie in our Constitution per se but in a Congress witch willfully and corruptly abrogated their responsibilities. "

I think I was the pointlessly snide poster. I love the US Constitution, but the founding fathers, who got so much right, never imagined a situation like the one we find ourselves in now: an administration like Bushco along with their Republican cronies in Congress--dedicated to the proposition of government of the people by a few and for a few--could win an election.

The constitution assumes individual malfeasance, not wholesale treason abetted by the media. What is needed is a wholesale purge of the loyal Bushies throughout the executive and judiciary. If the Congress impeaches Bush, nothing will change except Dick Cheney will be president (the prospect of which, I assume, chills your marrow as it does mine.) So, let's assume that Congress also impeaches Cheney. It doesn't strike you as a Constitutional Crisis that a Democrat would then become President? I weep, but the Republicans did win in 2004 and the constitution is pretty clear on what that means. Do you see the problem?

The best Americans can hope for during the next two years is stanching the damage. When we win in 2008, then we do what needs to be done.

Posted by: PTate in FR on April 6, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just to see how it actually scans I did Kevin's edits, and it really does improve the quality of Klein's writing:

"I've tried to be respectful of the man and the office, but the three defining sins of the Bush Administration—barroom obstinance, incompetence, partisanship and paranoia gone psychopathic—are congenital: they're part of his personality. Pigs will orbit Mars before this changes. And it is, unfortunately, all too easy to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead."

Works for me.

Posted by: majun on April 6, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with both MsN and PT. And I believe both are basically saying that there wasn't and probably couldn't be anything written into any social contract to allow for what would (did) happen when the participants simply fail or even refuse to follow the tenets of the agreement. It could be a perfect codicil, but if it's held by monkeys and jackanapes, and the zookeepers don't bother to retrieve it, what value does it have?

Posted by: Kenji on April 6, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey brit - *conservatives* never tire of dumping on Europe. We progressives rather like the place.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on April 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Someone said Bush should answer to the deceased soldiers families for getting us into Iraq.

Fair enough, but so should the MAJORITY of Democrat politicians who also signed onto this war.

Posted by: Bob on April 6, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

klein is classic example of empty trouser media. They blather on and on about his faults, but do they ever reach a conclusion? Klein- everything before but is bullshit.

Posted by: Mary on April 6, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

This out- of - touch ideological inbred C student from Yale, center- stage -taking, selfish little man who chose inaction when vulnerable Americans were dying in New Orleans, who has no sadness for those lives lost in Iraq.
Money grabbing, treasury robbing, illegitimate pResident.
Paul Krugman nailed it in 2004--"Why are Bush's business dealings relevant? Given that his aides tout his "character," the public deserves to know that he became wealthy entirely through patronage and connections.
But more important, those dealings foreshadow many characteristics of his administration, such as its obsession with secrecy and its intermingling of public policy with private interest....then there's the conversion of institutions traditionally insulated from politics into tools for rewarding your friends and reinforcing your political control..."

Posted by: consider wisely on April 6, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK



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