Wankers - Joe Klein's Day

Atrios makes the much expected choice of Joe Klein as one of the Wankers of The Decade. He recounts many, but not nearly all of Klein's wankerific moments. I wrote a lot about him back in the day, when he seemed more important. Here's one example, a post I wrote in 2005, Diagnosing Joe Klein, when Klein sided with Republicans on the Terri Schiavo issue:

Joe Klein, columnist for Time Magazine, is of course, most famous as the "Anonymous" author of "Primary Colors", the roman a clef about the Clintons.

Today, Klein is most prominent playing the role of scold to the Democratic Party, most notably on Russert's Meet the Press.

In his column this week, Klein takes the opportunity of the Schiavo travesty, and the DeLay Scandal and the Pope's passing, to find, yet again, somehow to find fault with Democrats. Don't get me wrong, I am sure this "tough love" is all with the good of the Party and the country in mind. I don't have a problem with that. My problem is that Klein's analysis and advice is so poor. The question is why? Klein is not a stupid man - in fact he can be very astute at times. But not about Democrats of late. Some examples from his column:

There has been a fair amount of covert gloating in the liberal community over the congressional Republican flameout. Senator Bill Frist's ridiculous videotape diagnosis of the stricken woman, DeLay's toxic effusions, the President's unseemly dash to Washington to sign the Schiavo legislation all found their just rewards in the polls that revealed an overwhelming public disgust with the political shenanigans. But Democrats would be wise to stow their satisfaction and give careful consideration to what thoughtful conservatives are saying about the role of the judiciary in our public life because the issue is about to get a lot more contentious.

Indeed it is Joe. Where have you been? Have you not noticed that before? Yeah there is this little thing called the filibuster and the Republicans are considering using something called the "nuclear option" to destroy it. What's my point? Well, Klein is not stupid and he MUST know that Dems have been gearing up for this fight all year. So why act as if he doesn't know it? Beats me. It is part of this strange sanctimonious lecturing and hectoring approach he seems incapable of letting go of. I think it is the "Know It All, and, knowing most of all, that Dems are political idiots" Inside the Beltway Syndrome. While Dems have sometimes seemed clueless (and thus the latter part of the assumption is more reasonable), it is hard to see why Beltway Insiders like Klein think they know so much. They don't have great track records on anything, plus having a real problem with facts.

Look at Klein's factual "problem" (think Airplane's drinking "problem"):

The Schiavo case has provoked a passionate American conversation, which is taking place on a more profound level than the simple yes and no answers of the polls. Yes, the vast majority disdain the politicians who chose to exploit the case. And yes, a solid majority would not want their own lives prolonged in a similar situation. But the questions that cut closest to home are the family issues. What would you do if Terri Schiavo were your daughter? Why couldn't Michael Schiavo just give custody over to the parents? What do we do about custody in a society where the parent-child bond is more durable than many marriages? The President's solution, to "err on the side of life," seems the only humane answer--if there is a dispute between parents and spouse, and the disabled person has left no clear instruction.

The President's solution is WHAAAAT? This is just unbelievable. This President flew back to sign a LAWLESS bill. This President signed a bill more "anti-Life", by his own terms, in Texas when he was Governor, than anything on the books in Florida. Does Joe Klein know none of these things? Why does he invite such ridicule if he does know these things?

But Klein gets worse:

The Democrats' relative silence on all this has been prudent, but telling. Their implicit position has been to err toward law. "The notion that Florida failed to do its job in the Schiavo case is wrong," said Congressman Barney Frank, one of the few Democrats willing to speak about the case. "Procedurally, there was a great deal of due process." Frank was right, but it was a curiously sterile pronouncement, bereft of the Congressman's usual raucous humanity. It exemplified the Democratic Party's recent overdependence on legal process, a culture of law that has supplanted legislative consideration of vexing social issues. This is democracy once removed.

This is so stupid that Klein should be taken to the woodshed for this. I mean, the one thing we DO know is that the PUBLIC did no give a rat's ass what Dem or GOP politicians actually thought about the Schiavo case - the public agreed it was a private matter. The one thing that grabbed everyone's attention was however - the disdain for the CULTURE of LAW exhibited by the GOP - and now by Klein.

The incredibly stupid part from him is his view that objecting to lawlessness is somehow supplanting "legislative consideration of vexing social issues." I mean, does Klein really want to be THIS big of an idiot? Does he have an opinion on any newly proposed general legislation on end of life issues? Because I would love to hear his opinion on it. Of course he doesn't know or think about any new ACTUAL HONEST TO GOODNESS legislative consideration of vexing social issues.

Of course, concerning non-Schiavo issues, he knows of no consideration of health care issues, tax issues, education issues, environmental issues, etc. Of course Dems object to ALL of the GOP Agenda on these issues, like say, Bush's Social Security destruction plan for instance. The more you think about it, the more you realize that perhaps, Klein really is an idiot. Maybe all this time in Washington has just rendered his brain useless.

More from Joe Klein:

This month, Democrats may use procedural tricks to stop all Senate business and block a Republican effort to eliminate minority filibuster rights and jam through seven federal judges proposed by the President. The fight may be winnable, but it is a culture of law cul-de-sac. The Democrats will be shutting down the Senate over a matter of process rather than substance, a pinhead of principle most civilians will find difficult to understand.

Here is the most ironic part of this - the substance underlining this fight is paramount and critical - it goes to the most fundamental issues of liberty and the Constitution. Joe Klein must be suffering from Beltway Syndrome if he cannot even see THAT. But even on his own terms, he doesn't get it. His ending is pure process oriented - not substance. He can't even stay consistent within his own ridiculous and erroneous point. To wit - "Democrats should be for Democracy." Er, that's "process" Joe.

Look what is really wrong here with Klein:

The Armageddon of confirmation battles--over the next Supreme Court Justice--will probably follow soon after, and it may cement a public impression of the Democrats as a party obsessed with the legal processes that preserve the status quo on issues such as abortion, gay rights and extreme secularism--and little else. The political damage may be considerable.

Er, to who Joe? You mean being for the status quo on privacy rights is a BAD thing? Are you fucking nuts or are you just a stupid moron? No, you suffer from Inside the Beltway Syndrome.

Now look at Joe's advice:

Oddly, a solution to the Dems' dilemma may be on offer from liberal academia. "The hot new idea in liberal law journals is called popular constitutionalism," says Paul Gewirtz of Yale Law School. "It argues that legislatures and voters should have more control over government, and the judiciary should take a more subsidiary position." In other words, issues like abortion should be put to a vote. This is an idea unthinkable to most Democratic politicians, who believe the right to an abortion is tucked somewhere in the Constitution--and also to the more extreme religious conservatives, who believe abortion is murder. That leaves the rest of us. And I imagine most of us would prefer some good, messy legislative compromises, hammered out at the state level, with the unimpeachable imprimatur of public approval. Perhaps it is time, finally, for Democrats to embrace democracy.

This is the most remarkable piece of drivel I think Klein has ever written.

Dems, like lunatics according to Klein, believe the right to privacy is in the Constitution. Well I'll be damned Joe, that is because the Supreme Court of the United States has said so for a very long fucking time. Are you nuts or just a fucking moron? No, you suffer from Inside the Beltway Syndrome.

It is time Joe, that you understand that the Founding Fathers had a pretty good fucking idea on forming a government, and it called for 3 separate and equal branches.

And the other thing you may want to do is learn how to read a public opinion poll - you missed completely on the politics. But you almost always do anyway.

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    ah, good times gone by (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ruffian on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 12:16:49 PM EST
    Joke Line is one of those guys, along with David Brooks, who triggers real anger at their salaries. Think of the money he pulls down for that drivel and see if it does not make your heart race just a little bit.

    OR (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by cal1942 on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 01:23:04 AM EST
    Stomach turn.

    Because Joe is bought and paid for. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by rhbrandon on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 12:27:43 PM EST
    For Joe, it's okay to be a useful idiot if the compensation is right, as it were.

    Joe Klein (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Zorba on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 01:39:48 PM EST
    "back in the day...seemed more important"?  To whom?  (Well, to himself, obviously.  Yet another "legend in his own mind.")  Not then, and certainly not now.
    Atrios is right, and you're right about Klein.  What a wanker!  

    It should be noted that ... (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:00:41 PM EST
    BTD: "[Joke Line], columnist for Time Magazine, is of course, most famous as the 'Anonymous' author of 'Primary Colors', the roman a clef about the Clintons."

    ... former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet immediately went public with his suspicions that Joke Line was the anonymous author of Primary Colors when that book first hit print, which the author vociferously denied.

    Joke Line further lied upfront to his then-employers at Newsweek magazine in denying to their faces that he was book's author, speculating openly in his magazine column that it was someone else.

    Then Donald Foster, a professor of English at Vassar College, correctly surmised that Joke Line was the man behind the veil, which compelled Joke Line to again deny authorship and then further condemn Foster publicly for the allegation.

    Then in a published interview with Joke Line, then-Washington Post Style editor David von Drehle bluntly asked his friend if he was willing to stake his credibility as a journalist upon his denials of authorship, to which Joke Line readily agreed.

    Finally in July 1996, Joke Line was compelled to admit that he was indeed the author of Primary Colors, which quickly led to his resignation under pressure from his punditry gig at CBS News, and his immediate dismissal from Newsweek.

    Joke Line has absolutely no personal credibility as a political comentator and analyst. In my opinion, the mere fact that he is still gainfully employed as such speaks volumes about collectively inherent moral and ethical bankruptcy of the Beltway media crowd -- the same crowd which just wasted an entire day yesterday with their ad nauseum coverage of the totally pointless "Lesbian Working Mom v. Wealthy Mormon Stay-at-Home Mom" kerfuffle.

    Nuf ced. Aloha.

    After he was forced to confess, didn't Klein then (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Farmboy on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 04:40:33 PM EST
    go about patting himself on the back for how many months it took for his authorship to be exposed? That's what made me shake my head at the time. It was like watching a little kid play hide and seek who refuses to be "it" when caught first. "Nu-uh, I was safe!"

    Actually, it took seven months ... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:03:19 PM EST
    ... from date of publication before Joke Line was finally compelled to admit his ongoing ruse.

    Look, I have no problem with journalists who write books about the stories they cover, or even dabble in thinly-veiled works of "fiction." And I'll freely admit that Primary Colors' core tale of an ambitious political couple who clearly weren't saints, yet were ostensibly in the game for all the right reasons, was actually a highly entertaining romp.

    That aside, suffice to say that Primary Colors was clearly intended as a political hit piece during a presidential election year (1996). Yet Joke Line possessed neither the cojones nor the simple common decency to even put his own name to it, and thus allow people a timely opportunity to fairly assess both the author's motives and his work's veracity.

    I'm admittedly setting a pretty low bar here, but while you can say what you will about Bill O'Reilly and Anne Coulter, neither of them are so personally disingenuous and lily-livered, as to hide behind a cloak of personal anonymity while simultaneously profiting from their political attacks on the Clintons and other Democrats.

    Strictly my opinion, of course, but Joke Line's seven months of self-absorbed cowardice following the January 1996 publication of Primary Colors was entirely revelatory of a man without any honor and integrity, which fatally undermines his professional credibility as a journalist, and further establishes him as a personal fraud of the highest caliber.

    And if Joke Line doesn't like what I've said here, then he's welcome to sue me. Because I can assure him, I'd equally welcome an opportunity to expose his dust-filled soul publicly as the content of his true character, and drive a stake right through the heart of his precious Beltway career.



    sorry BTD, (5.00 / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 04:14:03 PM EST
    thoughtful conservatives

    is an oxymoron, and conservatives, as a class, are simply maroons. anyone using the term "thoughtful conservatives" can automatically be declared a wanker, no other analysis is necessary.

    Oh, my gosh - I had forgotten just how (none / 0) (#4)
    by Anne on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 01:58:32 PM EST
    gobsmackingly stupid the chatter was during that whole Schiavo debacle.  And how much of it was being contributed by wankers like Klein.

    [oh, and I don't know if it matters, but there are a bunch of f-bombs in your post that J might prefer get asterisked so as not to f**k with the filters...]

    Joe Klein (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 02:49:54 PM EST
    thanks for reminding me how stupid he was.