Posts Tagged ‘Joe Klein’
October 18th, 2011 at 6:06 pm
How to Eviscerate a Pundit
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Regular readers of the blog know that there is a small gallery of Washington pundits that I simply cannot abide; not because I disagree with their views, but because I despise the predictability of their positions, the ballast of their prose, and the intellectual laziness of their work.

That’s a group that includes Tom Friedman, Joe Klein, and E.J. Dionne, amongst others. But there’s a special place in pundit hell for the professional joiner: the columnist who always has to march in lockstep with Beltway fashion. That’s why it’s so delightful to see the once-respectable Fareed Zakaria get noted in the New Republic’s list of over-rated DC thinkers. The précis is priceless:

Fareed Zakaria is enormously important to an understanding of many things, because he provides a one-stop example of conventional thinking about them all. He is a barometer in a good suit, a creature of establishment consensus, an exemplary spokesman for the always-evolving middle. He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous “declining American power” chorus. When Obama wanted to trust the Iranians, Zakaria agreed (“They May Not Want the Bomb,” was a story he did for Newsweek); and, when Obama learned different, Zakaria thought differently. There’s something suspicious about a thinker always so perfectly in tune with the moment.

Indeed. Fareed Zakaria is a man who writes Gallup polls in paragraph form. Nice to see the media take notice.

November 15th, 2010 at 6:26 pm
Krugman Watch: The Key to Restoring America’s Economic Health is … Death Panels?
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Regular readers know that Paul Krugman, Tom Friedman, and Joe Klein regularly jockey for the status of political pundit I most despise. Well, Dr. Krugman pulled into the lead with his stunning endorsement of “death panels” as the royal road to America’s fiscal health on yesterday’s edition of “This Week with Christiane Amanpour”:

H/T: NewsBusters

September 3rd, 2010 at 1:02 pm
Somebody Call Joe Klein’s Pharmacist
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Regular readers may know that Time Magazine’s Joe Klein has become something of a white whale to your humble blogger. He is to me what Tom Friedman is to Jonah Goldberg.

When Klein isn’t busy singing in the Obama gospel choir (along with Jon Meacham, Ezra Klein, Eugene Robinson, and everyone else who thinks Obama is failing because Americans are too base to grasp his transcendence), he’s usually nursing exceptionally dumb ideas for political reform. You know, the type that would grind a sophomore political science seminar to a halt?

At the moment, Klein’s problem du jour is that the American system of government doesn’t work effectively — by which he means it doesn’t provide the outcomes he likes. What does Klein propose as a tonic? A system that blends the worst aspects of populism and progressivism and then marinates with a throwback to the ancient Greeks. Behold:

But what if there were a machine, a magical contraption that could take the process of making tough decisions in a democracy, shake it up, dramatize it and make it both credible and conclusive? As it happens, the ancient Athenians had one. It was called the kleroterion, and it worked something like a bingo-ball selector. Each citizen — free males only, of course — had an identity token; several hundred were picked randomly every day and delegated to make major decisions for the polis. But that couldn’t happen now, could it? Most of our decisions are too complicated and technical for mere civilians to make, aren’t they?
Well, with tough questions like that Klein certainly couldn’t have a response. Or could he???
Actually, the Chinese coastal district of Zeguo (pop. 120,000) has its very own kleroterion, which makes all its budget decisions. The technology has been updated: the kleroterion is a team led by Stanford professor James Fishkin. Each year, 175 people are scientifically selected to reflect the general population. They are polled once on the major decisions they’ll be facing. Then they are given a briefing on those issues, prepared by experts with conflicting views. Then they meet in small groups and come up with questions for the experts — issues they want further clarified. Then they meet together in plenary session to listen to the experts’ response and have a more general discussion. The process of small meetings and plenary is repeated once more. A final poll is taken, and the budget priorities of the assembly are made known and adopted by the local government. It takes three days to do this. The process has grown over five years, from a deliberation over public works (new sewage-treatment plants were favored over road-building) to the whole budget shebang. By most accounts it has succeeded brilliantly, even though the participants are not very sophisticated: 60% are farmers. The Chinese government is moving toward expanding it into other districts.
So, to review:
  • The U.S. should be taking lessons on democracy from the People’s Republic of China.
  • The system obviously works because the Chinese chose to expand sewage treatment over roads — in a country that just had an 11-day, 74-mile traffic jam.
  • All farmers are apparently idiots.
  • We ought to replicate the particulars of the Greek system that executed Socrates and routinely put losing military commanders to death.
  • The Federalist Papers’ explicit recognition of the supremacy of a republican form of government over a democracy was only meant to hold until things got really hard.
  • Joe Klein thinks the ideal form of organizing a free people is modeled off of a game of Bingo — which one imagines is perhaps how he got his column.
July 24th, 2010 at 9:10 pm
News Flash to Liberal Media Types: You’re Always on the Record

With the JournoList fiasco mercifully wheezing through its final lap, TIME contributor Joe Klein laments the death of his favorite online clubhouse.  Though Klein makes a manful effort to equate sharing emails off the record with sharing information and banter over drinks or dinner, he’s ultimately unconvincing.  The biggest difference between informal emails and informal person-to-person chats is that the former is written down, the latter is not.  A 40 year veteran of journalism like Klein ought to know that; especially when the substance of the correspondence is so nakedly partisan.

Besides, if it’s ever revealed that a group of U.S. Senators maintain a semi-secret email list for sharing off-color riffs and strategy sessions for undermining rivals, I suspect Joe Klein, author of Primary Colors, won’t hesitate to make a few bucks off being the first to break the story.

January 25th, 2010 at 10:54 pm
Joe Klein: “It’s the Stupids, Economy”
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I may not win any points for originality for calling attention to the imbecility of Time Magazine’s Joe Klein, but his latest rhetorical moonshot has to be read to be believed.

Harnessing the liberal tendency to blame their failures on the stupidity of the country, Klein reacts to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll that shows nearly three quarters of the country considers the stimulus package wasteful by indicting the cognitive capacities of the nation (in a post titled “Too Dumb to Thrive”, no less). To wit:

Two thoughts:

1. The Obama Administration has done a terrible job explaining the stimulus package to the American people…especially since there have been very few documented cases of waste so far.

2. This is yet further evidence that Americans are flagrantly ill-informed…and, for those watching Fox News, misinformed.

It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens. It is impossible to be a citizen if you don’t make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government. It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.

Strip away the ad hominem and here’s what you have:

1. We’re not communicating well enough (the oldest — and most impotent — political excuse in the book)

2. There’s been no waste (Klein seems to be missing that Americans aren’t reacting to abuse in the program … they think the above-the-board spending is pointless)

3. This is the American people’s fault for being thick-browed knuckle-draggers (someone might want to point out to the intellectual vanguard over at Time that the health of the economy and the intelligence of the electorate are what are called independent variables. The economy isn’t still faltering because Americans think the stimulus is pointless. Americans think the stimulus is pointless because the economy is still faltering).

October 24th, 2009 at 2:42 pm
Even Joe Klein Thinks Obama Went Too Far

Thankfully, Joe Klein (almost) proves the adage that even a broken clock is right twice a day. As recently documented, Klein has an inability to set aside his partisan pom-poms and see the real issue in a news story. But not when it comes to the White House’s war on Fox News:

The problem with war is that it diverts attention from the actual news. The Administration has tried to pursue a sophisticated, difficult domestic and foreign policy. It doesn’t offer the quick-fix irresponsibility of a tax cut or an invasion. It needs space, time and patience to explain. This is an enervating, midstream moment. It’s not certain that the President’s efforts from health care to Afghanistan will succeed. We’ll know a lot more in a month, but I really hope the White House hasn’t launched this attack to fill the public space while the other issues are being sorted out. The long-term costs of stooping to Fox’s level are not just bad posture; they are diminution of the office and its primary occupant.”

Now, Klein has a few more hours to be right again.  The clock is ticking…

October 23rd, 2009 at 1:43 pm
A Tree Grows in Daytona Beach
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One of the eternal irritations about mainstream media coverage of conservatives is how often unabashedly liberal journalists are tasked to write “objective” pieces about the political dynamics within the GOP. The results tend to be about as unpredictable as a Horatio Alger story.

The narrative usually goes something like this: Ideological zealots (read: conservatives), abandoning all pretense of pragmatism (apparently it isn’t practical to have principles) are threatening to drive the party of a cliff. Yet one enlightened moderate, free of all that ideological ballast, holds the potential to lead the party boldly into the future if only the flat-earthers would get out of his way.  The moderate is sensible, temperate, and judicious.  The conservative is either mentally unhinged or has sold his soul to Karl Rove.

That’s basically the tact that Time’s Joe Klein (whose consistent ability to be wrong in print deserves a Pulitzer) takes in his profile of the GOP primary contest for the open U.S. Senate seat in Florida.  Klein portrays Florida’s moderate governor, Charlie Crist, as a good-natured centrist being driven to the wall by wild-eyed right-wing activists.  Meanwhile, conservative former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is shot down on the grounds that (a) the Florida GOP chairman doesn’t like purists (since all of us recognize the unalloyed majesty and power of state chairmen) and (b) Jeb Bush’s decision to create public hurricane insurance half a decade ago proves that limited government won’t work in the Sunshine State.

Of all the candidates aiming to leap onto the national stage in gubernatorial or senate races next year, Rubio is far and away the most impressive addition to the conservative movement.  An enterprising conservative or moderate journalist (or even an intellectually honest liberal) would have seen that the real story here is how a relatively unknown, underfunded conservative has started destroying the lead of a popular moderate govenor in one of the nation’s largest states. That’s not the story that Joe Klein wrote. Unfortunately, it’s probably not one he’s capable of writing.