Friday, April 06, 2007

Joe Klein: sees wrong, tries to write it

Boy, things must really suck in the elephant kingdom to have a week like this. First, “Clinton ‘Democrat’” turned Bush pit bull Matthew Dowd confesses his doubts about the boy king to the New York Times, then Adam “you call it gossip, I call it ‘news analysis’” Nagourney admits that things look blue for the red party, and now (super-large scare quotes) centrist Democrat (close super-large scare quotes) Joe “Anonymous” Klein seems to agree with the “shrill” (as he has called it) left side of the blogosphere.

Unless, of course, you ask him if he really means it.

Let’s start with that (what do we call it?) opinion piece:

. . . A much bigger story is unfolding: the epic collapse of the Bush Administration.

The three big Bush stories of 2007--the decision to "surge" in Iraq, the scandalous treatment of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for tawdry political reasons--precisely illuminate the three qualities that make this Administration one of the worst in American history: arrogance (the surge), incompetence (Walter Reed) and cynicism (the U.S. Attorneys).

. . . .

When Bush came to office--installed by the Supreme Court after receiving fewer votes than Al Gore--I speculated that the new President would have to govern in a bipartisan manner to be successful. He chose the opposite path, and his hyper-partisanship has proved to be a travesty of governance and a comprehensive failure. 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.

“Tried to be respectful of the man” is a nice euphemism for the specific brand of apple polishing Klein has indulged in over the last six years, but never-no-mind! To read Klein is to read a thinly veiled (respectful?) call for the Bush presidency to end early—dare we call it a call for impeachment?

The “shrills” in the blogosphere thought so. . . .

“No!” says Klein (literally).

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.

No! Whatever you do, don’t take a stand against arrogance, incompetence, and cynicism, Joe, that wouldn’t be “respectful”—and you know, being the consummate establishment media “centrist” beltway insider that you are, that the arrogant, incompetent, and cynical deserve nothing if not respect.

And what exactly are high crimes then? (Not to mention that the impeachment article, Art. II, sec. 4 of the Constitution, says, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and that the “high” bit means “committed by a person of high authority,” and not a crime that is somehow “higher”—but I will spare you the lecture on what all that actually means.) You just gave us almost 800 words detailing what sound to me like some very high crimes indeed! Is lying a country into war to settle a personal vendetta not a high crime? Is mismanaging—or, more aptly, purposefully undermining—the VA health system, and then ignoring or covering up the horrific results not a high crime? Is politicizing the US attorney corps in order to influence elections not a high crime?

These are criminal abuses of authority, are they not, Joe?

So, come on: you wrote a pretty good column—now stand by it! Sure, maybe you were being “respectful” by not yourself using the actual word “impeach”—call that literary license—but don’t undermine the entire thrust of your piece and malign your readers by calling those that read you clearly as “nutso.”

I mean, calling people—people that agree with you on this one, no less—calling them “nutso” is so. . .uh. . . shrill.

And really, Joe, to spell out the criminal trifecta as you did, to say that the Bush Administration’s sins are “congenital” and “not likely to change,” to say that it is “difficult to imagine another two years,” and then, in your comment, to essentially say, “but we should endure two more years of ‘a really bad Presidency’ just the same” makes you nothing more than a whiner.

It makes me think this latest column of yours might just be the beginning and the end of your political backbone. So, I’ve adapted a eulogy for you:

Joe Kline’s spine need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what it was in life; let Joe be remembered simply as a good and ‘respectful’ man, who saw wrong and did not try to right it, saw suffering and did not try to heal it, saw war and did not try to stop it.

(My apologies to both Robert and Ted Kennedy)

[cross-posted to Daily Kos.]


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