Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not

I usually stay out of the fray between journalists and bloggers. But this one, picked by Nation Editor Katrina Vanden Heuval against the liberal blogosphere, and Ezra Klein in particular, I just can't pass up. I agree with Crooks and Liars and Jane.

If it was just Ms. Vanden Heuval's comments justifying the Democrats' choice of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to give the SOTU response, even though I disagree with the pick, I'd probably demur. But she attacked my pal Ezra, and I don't like when my friends are attacked and she's just flat out wrong, or as Jane says, blind.

Ezra wrote a post criticizing Kaine's selection as response-giver, and said some unflattering things about Kaine's appearance. Ms. Vanden Heuval responds by saying Ezra was "no Brad Pitt, last time I checked him out."

Ezra Klein is about 23 years old. He is, except for the TL kid, about the most handsome, well-mannered young man I know. (You can check Ezra out here, he's in the front in the blue shirt, next to Atrios, who's next to me.) Sorry, Katrina, but he's plenty hot for his age.

Not to mention, Ezra is bright the way Matt Yglesias is bright -- these kids can romp from medicare to politics to foreign policy to economics to science and back again without missing a beat. I spent days with them and others their age at the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004 and I was just awed by their talent. They are the future. We are lucky to have them on our side.

Plus, Ms. Vanden Heuval is doing the liberal blogosphere a disservice. She's causing division among the ranks. Someone needs to tell her the enemy is not in here, it is outside the room.

Many, including me, expressed disappointment of the Democrats' selection of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to present the rebuttal to the State of the Union address. But none of us made a huge deal over it. We noted our disappointment and moved on. Why is Ms. Vanden Heuval making such an issue over Ezra's singular post now? Even Gov. Kaine recognizes his homeliness.

Kaine addressed his appearance in a USA TODAY interview last fall. "I start with looks that appeal to the homely," he said. His press aide grew agitated, but Kaine reassured him: "Homely polls well."

Ezra's 23. Ms. Vanden Heuval is a generation older and the editor of a terrific, liberal national publication that is among the best out there. The Nation should be recruiting talented writers and thinkers like Ezra, not alienating them and their younger readers.

If, as Ms. Vanden Heuval writes, it doesn't matter who presents the Democrats' response to SOTU any more than it matters what color outfit Rep. Pelosi wears to listen to his speech, then her piece was just divisive. All liberals are not cut from the same cloth. All Democrats don't see eye-to-eye on every issue. They don't need to. Positions on issues aren't the litmus test. Democratic values are. Given the trouble the party has had in conveying those values to the public, both the choice of Tim Kaine and Ms. Vanden Heuval's critial article about Ezra and the liberal blogosphere just cause dissension when both she and the Democrats should be rallying the faithful.

Update: Ezra answers Ms. Vanden Heuval here.

Update: Digby says Katrina needs glasses. Shakespeare's sister says Katrina took a cheap shot.

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    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:25:41 AM EST
    Let me get this straight, some libs are upset because someone thinks an ugly man is giving the reply to the STOTU? His looks were even worth mentioning? Style over substance?

    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#2)
    by theologicus on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:16:41 AM EST
    I would hate to see this internecine bruhaha get blown out of proportion. It will do no good for the cause if people start slinging mud at each other, whether in favor of Ezra or Katrina. We need them both, I have no dog in this fight, and let's move on to matters that are more important.

    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#3)
    by MikeDitto on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:38:49 AM EST
    I registered my complaint about Kaine possibly more loudly than others, but my complaint about Kaine was just a small one in a litany of complaints about the Democratic party. When I read the KVH's jab at Ezra I was flabbergasted. That was way out of line. Kaine is not *the* problem, but he's definitely *a* problem, and I think a symptom of the party illuminati's desire to return to its Dixiecrat roots in order to seem more electable.

    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 09:39:16 AM EST
    actually, the entire "liberal" blogosphere, including this site, is the problem. you beat people to death with mounds of stats, etc., and elections are lost. being right, and being unelected, have become mutually inclusive to the democrats and their "liberal" supporters. the mainstream media shares much of the blame as well, their "liberal" coveraage of the clinton, gore and kerry campaigns led to the election of george bush. the only reason clinton got elected is because he is LBJ reincarnated, gore and kerry aren't. when you people think you can make a brief, cogent argument for anything, do let the rest of us know. in the meantime, you have no business slinging mud, or anything else sticky, at anyone who criticizes you. this would include "bright" 23 year-olds, who generally don't know their butts from a hole in the ground, because they have zilch in the way of real-life experience.

    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 10:15:30 AM EST
    Nice post. And I absolutely agree that Ezra is both good-looking and just about one of the nicest people I've ever met. I'd add, however, that even if Ezra had a face like a burst boot and an attitude to match, his point would still stand. Looks do matter in politics, whether that's fair or not, and in the measure of whether someone is a wise choice for a televised appearance of any sort, a commentary on appearance is not inappropriate. Nor should it be predicated on whether the commentator is him- or herself attractive.

    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:37:12 PM EST
    sorry, if that were actually true, gore would be in the white house, serving his second term. LBJ would never have been elected, or nixon. nor would scores of less than good looking representatives and senators. this has been a fairly hollow claim since kennedy was elected, that his looks made the difference. prove it. 23 year-old twits, regardless of their looks, are, at the end of the day, 23. show me the money.

    Re: Ezra's Hot, Kaine's Not (none / 0) (#7)
    by roy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:52:46 PM EST
    Maybe political figures should appoint body doubles to deliver their speeches and film their ads for them. But not doubles, hot people. Miss America could be the official presidential stand-in at the UN, for instance. Local officials could be represented by lesser beauty queens, i.e. the mayor of Tulsa, OK, is portrayed by Miss Dairy Cattle Industry. When they retire from politics, they take the bag off their heads.