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Stephen A. Douglas
Joe Klein's historic doppelganger, Stephen A. Douglas, the "radical moderate" of his time.
This week, Joe Klein wrote:
Obama's anger served a larger purpose. It was directed at the plague affecting--no, paralyzing--our public life: the ability of well-funded extremist groups to thwart the will of the overwhelming majority. This is a problem that goes well beyond the gun issue. It has infected liberal and conservative lobbying groups alike. Their constant screeching defiles the mass media and drowns out voices of sanity. Their give-no-quarter politics defines our time. [...] It is well past time for political moderates to speak as forcefully as the snake-oil salesmen who are hijacking our democracy.

I include among the demagogues Democrats like Jim Dean--former governor Howard Dean's brother--who recently sent out a fundraising letter titled "Disgusted," which began with this subtle enjoinder: "President Obama's budget has left me absolutely disgusted." Really? Why? Because the President has called for very modest cuts in old-age entitlements. I also include both sides of the abortion debate, public employees' unions that won't change their work rules, the gun lobby--obviously--and its liberal doppelgänger, the civil-libertarian lobby.

Of course Joe Klein's inability to actually engage the substance of issues has been obvious for some time. His criticism of  "the gun lobby—obviously—and its liberal doppelgänger, the civil-libertarian lobby," is emblematic of his ignorance and pettiness (he's still mad because his stupidity on warrantless wiretapping was widely ridiculed).

And this "angry moderate" act of his is also a rehash. In 2006, he said:

I call myself a moderate — a radical or flaming moderate, take your pick — because in this witlessly overheated political environment, you've got to call yourself something.
I can think of some things to call Joe Klein, but let's leave that for another time. I actually want to equate Klein to a figure in history that will illustrate the noxiousness of his views—and I keep coming back to Stephen Douglas:
Douglas's ideal of American nationality was a powerful and fluid political force. But other, countervailing forces were also at work. In the North, a growing moral abhorrence of human bondage aligned with swelling fears that the territorial domain of slavery would be expanded without limit. In the South, a constitutional interest in protecting states' rights merged with a rising apprehension that northern radicals would constrict the prerogatives of slaveowners. Caught between these colliding passions, Douglas called for a retreat from extremism [...]. [Emphasis supplied.]
That's Joe Klein. His idea of thoughtfulness is to say both sides do it, without a thought for the actual positions he is supporting. There is no doubt that Joe Klein would have equated John C. Calhoun with Frederick Douglass. Back in 2011, I wrote a post titled
Frederick Douglass: The activist who would not 'grow up'
:
The life of Frederick Douglass is one of the prime examples of American history of why reaching for the impossible, for not "growing up," is essential for the effective activist. Born a slave, Frederick Douglass was the living embodiment of asking for the impossible in order to achieve the good. While the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, asking for the perfect is essential to achieving the good.
Let me be clear, it's not that I think Klein has formed any ideas about the role of activists versus politicians; frankly I'm pretty sure he is not smart enough to think that deeply about the issue. But I do think he is so absorbed in his own inanities that he mimics the type of thinking that lionized Stephen Douglas' "radical moderation" in his time.

More on the flip.  

So why devote a post on Joe Klein? Does he really matter? Not really. But his type of thinking still seems to matter. Every day you will read about the need for bipartisan compromise and the president's supposed "failure to lead" when the real story is, of course, the extremism of the Republican Party. (I have more than few bones to pick with the Green Lanternists in reverse who seem to see nothing in the president's own history of actions as contributing to this.)

Joe Klein sees extremism EVERYWHERE, except of course from himself (the truth of course is that Joe Klein has stumbled into supporting extremism at every turn in his drive to be a "radical centrist"). See here, here, here, and here:

Klein: [Y]eah, by all means, we should talk to [Iran] , but, on the other hand, we should not take any option, including the use of [....] nuclear weapons off the table.

Stephanopoulos: Keep that on the table?

Klein: It's absolutely stupid not to.

Stephanopoulos: That's insane. [...]

. . .

Klein: I'm some sort of creepy, covert conservative. Of course, most conservatives consider me a liberal. I call myself a moderate — a radical or flaming moderate, take your pick — because in this witlessly overheated political environment, you've got to call yourself something. But the conservatives do have a point[. . . .]

. . . .

Klein: The Great Society was an utter failure because it helped to contribute to social irresponsibility at the very bottom.

. . . .

Klein: You know, I'm pretty much a social conservative on a lot of stuff. I'm certainly opposed to late term abortion, and I think the deal to be made is morning after pill is legal, anything after that probably shouldn't be...in the past year, I've stood for the following things. I've taken the following positions. I agreed with the President on social security reform. I supported his two Supreme Court nominees, and I support, even though I opposed this war [He lied about that], I support staying the course in Iraq, and doing whatever we have to do in order to stabilize the region.

. . . .

Pretty extreme stuff. But, like Stephen Douglas, Klein has found that to stay in "the middle" when radical extremists are involved requires becoming pretty extreme yourself, and so it was with Douglas and so it is with Joe Klein.

Put Joe Klein in the pre-Civil War era and he would have been churning out columns attacking Frederick Douglass and lauding Stephen Douglas.

History will not be kind.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Split the difference is not the path to good (25+ / 0-)

    In any society we find problems that need to be fixed at the root (radix). Without a clear idea of what the goal should be, we find nothing but compromises within the Overton Window and nothing is fixed.

    Klein, one of the Very Serious People, manages never to look at the problem that needs to be fixed or methods of fixing it. Political expediency is all he cares about.

    Americans can make our country better.

    by freelunch on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:09:09 AM PDT

    •  Claiming to be "moderate" and like using a nuke? (18+ / 0-)

      Seriously?

      What the heck is "moderate" about that?

      Why in the world do people keep publishing Joe Klein's blathering?

    •  Of Course... (27+ / 0-)
      Klein: The Great Society was an utter failure because it helped to contribute to social irresponsibility at the very bottom.
      One might allow The Great Society:

      1. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 assured minority registration and voting. It suspended use of literacy or other voter-qualification tests that had sometimes served to keep African-Americans off voting lists and provided for federal court lawsuits to stop discriminatory poll taxes.

      2. It also reinforced the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by authorizing the appointment of federal voting examiners in areas that did not meet voter-participation requirements.

      3. The Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 abolished the national-origin quotas in immigration law.

      4. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 that provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin

      And maybe the Job Corps, VISTA, food stamps...

      Klein, you asshole conservative in sheep's clothing. Be gone!

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

      by TerryDarc on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:20:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Splitting the difference (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      freelunch, eru, NoMoreLies, sayitaintso, Matt Z

      is jumping a motorcycle halfway across Hell's Canyon.

      What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

      by happymisanthropy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:17:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Splitting the difference" is a bumper sticker. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasTom, chrismorgan, a2nite

        Negotiation and compromise is government.

        Failure to understand that is intellectual myopia.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:34:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So then (0+ / 0-)

          build half of a fighter jet and then go to voters and defend spending money on a system the doesn't work.

          What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

          by happymisanthropy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:36:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, bumper stickers and myopia. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chrismorgan

            Look, if you really prefer authoritarian rule, that's your business.

            I don't.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:42:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just paid cash (0+ / 0-)

              for a prescription, and cash in advance for the doctor visit.  Oh, the price of generic antibiotics has quadrupled in the last year.  In spite of Obamacare, I'm still uninsured, but the good news is I'll probably be poor enough to not have to pay a fine.

              You were saying?

              What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

              by happymisanthropy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:52:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ok. You paid cash. We pay cash for prescriptions, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                madgranny

                too.

                Strictly speaking, you are not uninsured in spite of Obamacare. You are uninsured because the health care system in this country is a bloody mess that Obamacare made nearly no effort to address.

                But what does that have to do with compromise?

                From the start, Democrats focused on big, bad insurance companies and not on the systemic flaws that make health care so bad in our country.

                Republicans refused to play ball, to their everlasting discredit (I would say shame if they had any, but they have none).

                As it is, we got the health care bill that Democrats were able to fashion among themselves and vote on before Scott Brown became the vote that could prevent cloture.

                If we had leaders who were willing to make deals, we might have gotten something worthwhile, something to build on.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:00:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Compromise is not the issue (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  a2nite

                  the issue is shit useless hacks, in and out of politics, who thinks that moving to the center will automatically make their policies more popular (which is wrong but marginally defensible) or more effective (which is just shit stupid).

                  What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

                  by happymisanthropy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:26:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  More like you'll be poor enuf to get the subsidies (0+ / 0-)

                so you end up paying less if your old enough to need significant medical care (including preventative).  If you're young or not that poor (its up to 400% poverty level or $89 k in 2011 dollars), then 1) you're already paying for it, even if you don't have insurance, or 2) that's what this whole 'share the risk' thing is about.

                Snce from your comment, I kinda doubt you made $90 K,
                here's some ACA subsidy calculators that may help: http://www.google.com/...

    •  Of course it is. (0+ / 0-)

      Not in a monarchy where rule is by divine right, and not in a dictatorship where rule is by dint of accumulated power, but...in societies in which the needs, will, and wants of the people are thought to matter? Absolutely.

      Rigidly refusing to acknowledgedifferences is the path to --- well, exactly what we have today.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:28:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Slavery or abolition (0+ / 0-)

        How do you split the difference?

        Americans can make our country better.

        by freelunch on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:47:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sigh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CharlesInCharge

          You've got me beat here. I lack the intellectual tools to deal with your, umm, correctness.

          For what it's worth:

          After the Civil War was over, Lincoln could have demanded reparations from the former Confederate states, and sought punishment for the former Confederate soldiers.  Andrew Johnson certainly supported that approach.  Instead, Lincoln sought healing and reconciliation.

          Ditto Nelson Mandela after the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

          The non-compromising European nations, however, didn't give an inch in punishing Germany after WWI.
          We see how well that worked out.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:09:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The non-compromising European nations, imho, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite

            did not go far enough after World War I. They should have broken Germany up and returned it to its status pre-1865, when it was a series of relatively small prinicipalities, the largest being Prussia (whence Bismarck and German unification originated).

            Um, Andrew Johnson did not support reparations from Confederate states and punishment of former Confederate soldiers, AFAIK. Johnson wished to implement Lincoln's conciliatory plans but his intentions did not mesh with the Radical Republicans in Congress, hence his ultimate impeachment. But maybe I'm missing something in your analysis.

            IMHO, the military occupation of the South should not have ended in 1876 (the first iteration of the Bush v. Gore problem, IIRC) but should have continued.

            •  Given the power of nationalism and youth of German (0+ / 0-)

              y as a nation, I kind of doubt breaking it up would have done anything except feed the resentments that Hitler played on.

              But, I think the second para is correct (with addition that since Johnson was Democrat - 'coppperback'- it was easy to forget Lincoln supported similar policies and just impeach Johnson for it).

              As for 1876, I tend to agree that 10 years was prima facie insufficient, but given the lazer focus of the Southerner-dominated Democrats on ending Reconstruction and refusal of Republicans to accept even a paralyzed Democratic President, I not sure any other result could happen. (Btw, iirc this was largely bc of patronage, which finally got kinda  fixed - or at least minimized considerably - in the next administration, Garfeild/Arthur - and Arthut was himself a happy patronager before Garfeild's assasination, even being fired by Hayes - who of course was the winner bc of the Theft of 1876.  Go figure.)

              •  We'll never know for sure. Germany in 1918-19 (0+ / 0-)

                was a complete and total basket case. Consider this, though: had the Entente Cordiale (and the U.S.) broken up Germany into its constituent states, Hitler might have played on resentments up until the time he was elected Mayor of Munich or, at worst, Governor of Bavaria.

                I enjoy playing the game of "Should have, would have, could have" in history as much as anyone :) And, while your paragraph about 1876 has a certain 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' flavor to it, it's certainly no worse than my original statement that the occupation should not have ended in 1876.

            •  I went a little overboard on that, but he (0+ / 0-)

              did not support Licoln's conciliatory policies. He considered seccesionists to be traitors who should be dealt with accordingly.

              Compared to the radical Republicans, I suppose he could be seen as a moderate, and...

              It's possible that Lincoln caused him to soften his positions a bit.  At any rate, he was in  a tricky position with regard to Lincoln's policies. It's tough to turn your back on a martyred President.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 02:55:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Compared to radical Republicans like Stanton (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dinotrac

                (with whom Lincoln also had problems), Johnson was most definitely a moderate.

                Hell, I consider the secessionists to have been traitors. There's a part of me that wishes Sherman had gone all Roman on their asses and salted the earth from Atlanta to Virginia. But when I stop to listen to the better angels of my nature, I also believe in the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption.

          •  Don't conflate compromise with punishment (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite

            I agree that Lincoln's instinct was good, even though the traitors and their heirs have used that kindness as an excuse to inflict Jim Crow on the former slaves and their descendants. The compromise came when the politicians and Supreme Court let Jim Crow continue. That was shameful. Jim Crow was a compromise with slavers.

            Americans can make our country better.

            by freelunch on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:54:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Neither should compromise be conflated with a (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jyrki

              need to meet in the middle.

              You reach compromises where you can. It is the essential lifeblood of good government -- finding those places where you can make things better instead of standing around doing nothing.

              Some things you can't compromise.  Most things you can and probably should.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 02:57:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  So is the constitution nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  klein came of age (20+ / 0-)

    when david broder was "the dean" of dc punditry. he's a watered down next generation broder. an even dumber gergen.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:15:39 AM PDT

  •  Wait (20+ / 0-)

    His example of well-funded extremists was Democracy for America? I might never stop laughing.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:17:19 AM PDT

  •  A really interesting historic analogy (7+ / 0-)

    Joe Klein is always dancing away from actually supporting anything of substance. His support of Bush's two Supreme Court nominees (Roberts and Alito) while grousing about the Iraq War is inconsistent at best and probably just disingenuous.

    I suppose he's trying to survive but he's just such a weasel.

    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:18:37 AM PDT

  •  As long as there is no penalty for pundits (9+ / 0-)

    The likes of Klein and Friedman will continue to thrive..

    One can hope that Howard Kurtz's departure from the Daily Beast is a sign the Bloviate for Dollars paradigm is changing.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:21:27 AM PDT

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akmk, vcmvo2
  •  Der Klein(e) Riese! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, freelunch, JML9999

    ...just so my meaning isn't misinterpreted here, that's a play on Klein's name ("little" in German). Stephen Douglas (who was quite short) took pleasure in the nickname "The Little Giant," which is Der Kleine Riese in German.

    Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

    by rcbowman on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:28:55 AM PDT

  •  You would like to think that a pundit (6+ / 0-)

    --a long time pundit in the case of Joe Klien--would have some actual insight instead of just sounding like some relic who is stuck in some long lost moderate past paradise that never existed anyway posturing as nuanced expertise.

    You don't need a pundit.  The flaws that plague this country and the world-problems of class-are ones we have all been aware of for at least 150 years.

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:34:06 AM PDT

  •  Joe Klein does crap to shore up his street cred (0+ / 0-)

    as a Villager in Good Standing.
    Attacking him as a Moral Coward may temporarily
    halt these displays of obeisance and he does occasionally
    write a good column.

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"--I heard it on Daily Kos Radio.

  •  Ironic: last night I saw some of the goofy movie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rbird

    "Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Slayer" - I blame being up at 2AM and tuning in HBO Pacific coast.

    (Or indulging truly bad taste).

    It was hilariously bad. Stephen Douglas being featured more so as the lovelorn pursuer of Mary Todd than as a dedicatedly misguided political opponent.

    •  Same here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ItsSimpleSimon

      Couldn't get to sleep, so I caught the last half of it.  You're right.  Man, it was so freaking awful, it was unintentionally funny as hell.  One question: was that supposed to be Lincoln at the bar in the end?

      Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

      by rbird on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:24:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Man, these guys are gonna (7+ / 0-)

    put The Onion out of business-Jim Dean an extremist?  DFA?  What is Klein smoking? Whatever it is, it contributes to his being the asshole he is, I guess.

    The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion. Molly Ivins

    by MufsMom on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:42:18 AM PDT

  •  Joe Klein has been beating the chained CPI drum (9+ / 0-)

    for some time. Why Time Magazine gives him space is beyond me.

    Wait. Time is a corporation. And corporations are looking out for their own tax breaks. Facepalm.

  •  Joe Klein's a dick. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    A stupid, little, 'flaming moderate' prick. That's all there is need to call him. Hopefully, history will take little or no notice of Joe except as a cautionary footnote. Ugh.

    You show a little grit and you lands in jail.

    by cal2010 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:48:36 AM PDT

    •  He can "turn a phrase" like a sophist.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cal2010, happymisanthropy

      and that is all you need to do to convince most people of your apparent brilliance.

      On fact, logic, interpretation and analysis, he is third or fourth rate, but in readability, he is effective to all who are plugged in to the Borg mind. The perfect propagandist.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:00:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Resistance is... lol. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OregonOak

        You show a little grit and you lands in jail.

        by cal2010 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:03:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not Futile. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cal2010

          is that it required compliance, even though some part of the brain it infected remained humane and individual. Over time, the Borg would dissolve any remaining individual will, but there were always exceptional individuals who could resist the total control of the Hive Mind.

          And, as you remember, the Hive mind's weakness is inflexibility to changing circumstances. It appears that, in StarTrek Philosophy anyway, heh, the "mind" is not the brain, but the interconnectedness of the sum total of all the human bodies, brains and nervious systems, without which, problems are reduced to one inflexible solution; kill. Destroy. So, of course, the Borg assures its own destruction by mass compliance.

          This is of course, a brilliant science fiction formulation of our world today, where most minds have bought in to the dominant architecture as it is inflexibly promoted, which becomes more and more brittle over time. When the crackup of the Borg Mind occurs, it is supposed that it is very dramatic, and like an earthquake, it is better to have many small crackups than one huge one. And that is why... as you remind us, resistance is NOT futile. It is necessary.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:09:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's ol' Joe K. Or 9 of 7. (0+ / 0-)

            Some broken ass Borgite castoff that even the other Borgs didn't want to assimilate into their Borg games. I hear the Daleks rejected him also: too small 'minded'.

            You show a little grit and you lands in jail.

            by cal2010 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 03:33:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  There are a lot of people who see it this way (5+ / 0-)

    I am involved with a local Democratic group in the Pacific Northwest.  I recently had an argument with the State Committee rep, so I will keep the specific locality out of it for the sake of making a point.

    A lot of people are uncomfortable with getting up in public and saying anything that might become a sticky argument.  They want to stay polite and civil.  

    Thus, a recent suggestion for the group to get out in public and represent itself with taking stands was met by the Committee rep by the idea that this local Democratic group should represent itself as a non-profit, call itself something generic sounding and proclaim that it was non political.  

    I am not sure how many local environments are like this, but I suspect that there are more than a few.  

    My sense is that if you wonder why the Party at higher levels seems to take this non-confrontational line, it is because it is actually a popular way of thinking about politics.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:01:08 AM PDT

  •  Some good points..... (0+ / 0-)

    on Joe Klein and the nexus of pundits who thing "everyone does it", means to split the difference, no matter what.

    However, heedlessly defending the corrupt corpus of the Democratic Party, and failing to see the contribution of excessive partisanship to the failure that is our political process is simply more of the type of "extremism" that Klein so rightly denigrates.

  •  in order to keep the status quo going for the (5+ / 0-)

    neoliberal financial elites, one must always claim the moral high ground of the political center.

    Of course if put on the spot to define what he sees wrong with government/society, his right-leaning elitism will become glaringly obvious.

    It's always that way with the self-deluding "I earned it, why can't you" crowd, even if they don't recognize it in themselves.

    But it's worse when they know it and are trying to bullshit people.

    Fuckwads.

    Physics is bulls**t. Don't let them fool you. Fire IS magic.
    (Facts brought to you by the Party of the Future - the GOP)

    by Pescadero Bill on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:10:35 AM PDT

  •  In a time of crypto-fascists and oligarchs... (8+ / 0-)

    ...there is no value in being a "moderate."

    If "moderate" is meant to mean someone with political views to the right of the Left but not into the camp of the Right, I'm sorry to say the Right has pushed itself so far away from the rest of us that old-school moderates should be considered part of the Left.  Eisenhower, who sent troops in to enforce desegregation, who coined the term "military-industrial complex" in his farewell speech condemning the power of military contractors - he'd be considered a leftist now.

    We live in an age when oligarchs like the Koch brothers and Peter Peterson use their wealth in attempts to impose their fanatical belief systems on the rest of us.  We live in a time when the machinery of a police state is assembling itself all around us, when anyone who speaks out or raises a hand to complain is condemned as a traitor or a fool by the right-wing media.  We live in a time when science is under attack by theocratic politicians.  So...just how is Joe Klein's "moderation" supposed to fix this?

    Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:13:53 AM PDT

  •  I admit I wasn't quite on board with (0+ / 0-)

    the tone of Jim Dean's e-mail, even though I disagree with parts of the president's  budget proposal. But after seeing Joe Klein's response, I'm more inclined to support  Dean.

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:19:25 AM PDT

  •  I don't think he is dumb (0+ / 0-)

    And in my opinion we could use some moderate voices.  Also, give and take is the way politics gets done.  

    •  Give and take? (0+ / 0-)

      Surely you are aware that if Obama supports anything, the Republicans in Congress immediately are against it, even if they supported it before.  This is give and take?  How's that working out again?

      Yes, LBJ was able to pass Great Society reforms because in the mid-1960's there was give and take between Republicans and Democrats.  This is 2013.  We no longer live in that society.  If you wish to be a "moderate", where do you go, what do you advocate?

      •  LBJ had a Dem congress, but more importantly, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        LBJ knew who was sleeping with whom, who drank too much, who played the ponies, etc., and he could call them into the oval office and  make deals that included new dedicated roads or support of tax bills for their districts.  He was shrewd and played hardball all the time.  He understood that when poverty and hopelessness make inroads into a nation that it cancels out any greatness that the nation could strive for.  Hard to believe he was a Texan given what we see there now.

        Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

        by judyms9 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:14:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  But the point is (0+ / 0-)

      Klien is no moderate , unless you consider Rubio a "moderate" for presenting t bagger GOP immigration reform

  •  So -- if I read you right, (0+ / 0-)

    Joe Klein is a stinky guy because he dares to applaud the President, berate the gun lobby, and  bemoan the fact that the political process has been reduced to the level liability lawyers descending on a payday.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:24:43 AM PDT

    •  Well (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      acerimusdux, Patango, NoMoreLies, Matt Z

      he applauds the President on his worst idea;
      he equates the gun lobby with the ACLU and
      bemoans the political process without acknowledging the obvious fact that the process is being destroyed by crazy right wingers.

      Yes, he is an extremely stinky guy.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:47:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reading, it's fundamental. (0+ / 0-)

        The American Civil Liberties Union is a specific organization, not some fuzzy notion like "Tea Party".  Nowhere did Klein make a reference to the ACLU.  If you believe that he meant them, that is your right.  If he did mean them, then he is wrong.

        Beyond that, your belief that the process is being destroyed by crazy right wingers tells me all that I need to know.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:54:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I thought about that when I wrote the comment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Patango

          but used ACLU as shorthand, because the distinction is beside my overall point -- that Klein was indulging in false equivalency.   Your "correcting" me on this point tells me all I need to know about your unwillingness to deal with that underlying issue

          But let me add to my prior assertion re the process -- it's being destroyed by (a) crazy right wingers; (b) venal right wingers; and (c) a media who won't acknowledge this.

          The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

          by Upper West on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:20:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That's not quite how I read this... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies

      Using gun control as an example, how can you equate right and left with a straight face?  I'm straining to think of any gun legislation that has been shot down as a result of leftist radicals...whereas we've just seen the NRA and it's followers in the Senate shoot down a very moderate piece of legislation.

      Same thing on most other issues -- I just don't see that the extremists on the left have anywhere near the power that their counterparts on the right have.  Yeah, I get frustrated by comments from people here who think that the ACA is a complete sellout because we didn't get single payer -- but I don't see those folks really having much impact on the larger debate.  Meanwhile, their right wing counterparts have pretty much coopted an entire political party.  Where's the equivalency?

      Finally, regarding Social Security reform, I believe that this particular Joe Klein quote:

      I agreed with the President on social security reform.
      May be referring to Bush's privatization scheme back in 2005.  And supporting that proposal is definitely not centrist by any reasonable definition.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:56:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know what right and left is on gun control (0+ / 0-)

        I know what Republican and Democrat is (mostly), even though my Republican senator voted along with Democrats on most of the provisions.

        I guess if I were pushed, I could presume that left should favor more gun control because an armed populace if harder to oppress, but that also applies to right wing authoritarian governments.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:15:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Klien is saying (0+ / 0-)

      That liberal voices are just as distorted / distorting as the NRA voices , that is what the diary is pointing out , you are missing the other 1/2 of the point imo

      •  I didn't read it quite that way, but I wouldn't (0+ / 0-)

        argue with him if he had.

        I see very little fundamental difference in signal to noise ration between left/right and Democrat/Republican.

        That will vary from issue to issue.

        For example, as egreious as Democrats and environmentalists can be when discussing issues centered on global warming, Republicans and many conservatives are far far worse.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:22:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite

          So The NRA GOP lie about dems and obama 20 times over claiming we are trying to take away all their guns , and you call that EVEN

          And the GOP present false testimony about pollution and global warming  to the U S Congress , while the dems have never done such a thing , and you would also consider that EVEN  

          Next joke please

          •  No I didn't. Learn to read the words. (0+ / 0-)

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun May 05, 2013 at 02:58:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I read your words just fine (0+ / 0-)

              , you agree with Klien , claim the diary is not an indictment of Klien being a moderate poseur  , and when that is simply pointed out to you  , you crap your pants and hurl an insult

              dinotrac
              I see very little fundamental difference in signal to noise ration between left/right and Democrat/Republican.

              FLOP

  •  Thanks for the history (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patango

    And the reminder that the radical middle is a lesson in wrong.

    Libertarianism is something that most people grow out of, not unlike, say, hay fever or asthma. Bob Johnson

    by randallt on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:28:54 AM PDT

  •  This diary is extremism.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, Calamity Jean

    ...in relevancy! So important. Excellent.

    Joe Klein is the quintessential professional Villager narrator. He conveys a moral high ground that is so incoherent it comes off as unprincipled.  His kind smells out original thought and behavior and demolishes it on sight, reinforcing the most narrow mediocre myths, disabling real discernment or progress.

    It's ironic that he calls it moderation, as if just a little bit of heroin in the mornings is benign. The whole binary left-right paradigm is the tell, his notion of moderation is like a Model-T trying to run on a modern expressway.  

  •  Don't forget Klein on Obamacare recently (0+ / 0-)

    The National Review based a whole article recently on Klein's piece expressing "concern" that the administration is screwing up implementation of Obamacare.  Klein also received kudos for this from Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin.

    Of course, Klein probably revels in those because it shows he's not a dirty hippie.

    He's really a blot on a blot-filled landscape of pundits.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:45:41 AM PDT

  •  Good Lord (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freelunch

    You always lead to more reading.  How will I ever cognitively age around you?  Now I need to know about Stephen Douglas :)  I'm trying to get through '500 Days, Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars' and reading you was supposed to be taking a break.

  •  Substitute the name "Obama" for "Klein" (0+ / 0-)

    And the article's content and meaning remain unchanged.

    The modern Democrat is one who promotes old GOP ideas and calls them progressive in comparison to new GOP ideas.

    by masswaster on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:57:24 AM PDT

    •  Or Abraham Lincoln for Klein (0+ / 0-)

      See above.

      I repeatedly claimed that Obama would never propose cuts to social security. I was wrong. Then again, I also claimed, repeatedly, that Rick Perry would win the 2012 Election, and that The Supreme Court would overturn Health Care Reform.

      by NoFortunateSon on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:22:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Today's New York Times has a perfect example: (5+ / 0-)

    There's a 'debate' between Larry Summers (representing the "Liberal" point of view, apparently) and George W. Bush's budget guy Glenn Hubbard, about the competing merits of budget cutting (okay, Bush exploded the budget and deficits, but, whatever) as opposed to...well...Obama-style budget cutting.

    Get it? It's a debate between right wing...and bat-shit crazy right wing. It's balance, so it's all good. Let's compromise and have a post-debate cocktail down at a trendy club.

    Funny thing, though. There is no genuinely liberal representation anywhere in this farcical 'debate'. It's between Wall Street and K-Street.

  •  i look at todays "pragmatic centrist" Dems (0+ / 0-)

    as essentially no different than Tea Partiers.

    they both serve the same private special interests and they both expect me to eat shit and like it just because they do so.

    Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

    by Boogalord on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:13:45 PM PDT

  •  If the country doesn't heave left we will be (0+ / 0-)

    crashing into the schizophrenic libertarian/authoritarian presidency of a Ted Cruz some time in the future.  I guess democracy is too hard for most folks.  The so-called nanny state will give way to the meet-me-behind-the-woodshed daddy state because we just couldn't evolve quickly enough.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:22:51 PM PDT

  •  Modesty is not all it's cracked up to be. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, nicteis

    "...very modest cuts in old-age entitlements."
    Joe Klein needs to stand on the very edge of a cliff with his feet half-way off while someone removes a modest amount of dirt.
    Son, when your living on a fixed income, there is no such thing as moderation when it comes to cuts. There is only exorbitance.
    You might want to pass that on to President Obama if you wantto be of any real help.

    The Great Awakening Is Afire! Think outside the box or remain mundane.

    by franklyn on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:23:02 PM PDT

  •  I've just had brunch with 30-somethings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    They were all non-Republicans, non-right wingers who were economically and socially progressive.  But everyone of them despaired because, as they saw it, "liberals" were keener on bickering among themselves about ideological purity than implementing practical and ascertainable solutions to the country's problems.  This is happening because the 30-somethings feel they grew up in a multi-cultural world but they perceive the political conversation on the "left" being carried out by people who want an old fashion mono-cultural consensus.  

  •  Great post! (0+ / 0-)

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:03:47 PM PDT

  •  Good job. (0+ / 0-)
    "This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think it--it's--it-it probably is." When Tim Russert presses Klein on why he thinks Iraq is "the right war," Klein responds, "Because sooner or later, this guy has to be taken out. Saddam has -- Saddam Hussein has to be taken out... The message has to be sent because if it isn't sent now, if we don't do this now, it empowers every would-be Saddam out there and every would-be terrorist out there."
    He lie.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:23:47 PM PDT

  •  Stephen Doughlas a Moderate (0+ / 0-)

    Repealing the Missouri Compromise to pass the Kansas Nebraska Act wasn't exactly a moderate thing to do.  It was nuts.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun May 05, 2013 at 03:39:36 PM PDT

  •  Phil Ochs Wrote Something Similar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD

    It went like this:

    I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
    Tears ran down my spine
    I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
    As though I'd lost a father of mine
    But Malcolm X got what was coming
    He got what he asked for this time
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    I go to civil rights rallies
    And I put down the old D.A.R.
    I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
    I hope every colored boy becomes a star
    But don't talk about revolution
    That's going a little bit too far
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
    My faith in the system restored
    I'm glad the commies were thrown out
    of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
    I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
    as long as they don't move next door
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    The people of old Mississippi
    Should all hang their heads in shame
    I can't understand how their minds work
    What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
    But if you ask me to bus my children
    I hope the cops take down your name
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    I read New republic and Nation
    I've learned to take every view
    You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
    I feel like I'm almost a Jew
    But when it comes to times like Korea
    There's no one more red, white and blue
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    I vote for the democratic party
    They want the U.N. to be strong
    I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
    He sure gets me singing those songs
    I'll send all the money you ask for
    But don't ask me to come on along
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    Once I was young and impulsive
    I wore every conceivable pin
    Even went to the socialist meetings
    Learned all the old union hymns
    But I've grown older and wiser
    And that's why I'm turning you in
    So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

    And that pretty much sums up Joke Line.  He's a liberal.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun May 05, 2013 at 06:01:37 PM PDT

  •  joe klein the moderate (0+ / 0-)

    'ok, ok reluctantly lets kill half the jews....'

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