The Loathe List is a
weekly monthly whenever I have time feature where Joe Steigerwald, erstwhile Stag Blog “hater,” takes on the worst of the media world, and literally disembowels them (figuratively).
Joe Klein enjoys looking smug and possibly playing basketball for the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics in the 1980s. In his spare time he writes “In the Arena” for Time magazine and stumps for the murder of foreign children.
Joe Klein (the writer) is part of a large group of mainstream journalists that pretends to be non-partisan while writing about how great liberals are and how awful and out of touch conservatives are. He’s constantly stumping for the “third way,” an unholy mixture of statism that pulls the worst parts of the political spectrum together under the guise of compromise.
Klein pretends to be a centrist. His Time columns bear headlines like “A Tea Party Test Case: A headstrong conservative faces an Iraq war heroine in a pivotal House race,” “Closing Arguments: We will not jump off the fiscal cliff. We’ll be find despite an unsatisfying campaign,” and “No Labels. No Agenda. Some Hope: Why, in one centrist group, Republicans and Democrats are talking to each other.” Nothing there screams “I’m a dirty liberal with an ax to grind,” but even a cursory glance at his writing reveals the true Joe Klein: a dirty liberal who indeed has an ax to grind.
Klein’s November 12 column “Closing Arguments,” in which he wraps up the 2012 Presidential campaign, is the perfect example of his writing style and reveals Klein’s true ideological identity. He sets up the column with what sounds like a moderate, even balanced approach, writing:
Barack Obama’s inspirational whoosh to the presidency in 2008 was unusual. Most campaigns are less exhilarating; indeed, they are downright disappointing–until someone wins. Then, suddenly, it becomes “clear” that one candidate magically understood and responded to the needs of the electorate and that his team of strategists were, ahem, geniuses. But in the days just before a closely contested election like this one, the missed opportunities and tactical blunders seem painfully obvious on both sides. The pettiness and lack of substance are suffocating. Has this year been particularly awful? It certainly seems so now, especially as the devastating truth of Hurricane Sandy beggars a campaign in which major issues like climate change were either ignored or denied by both sides.
Besides the explicit tying of global warming to Hurricane Sandy, he toes a centrist line. He rails against both sides’ “missed opportunities and tactical blunders.” But after reading the next two paragraphs, all you can think of is how hard it was for Klein to abstain from slobbering over Obama for an entire 15 seconds.
The President has run a tactical, largely negative campaign, more concerned with Romney’s weaknesses than with the strength of his own record. It is almost as if his victories–with the exception of Osama bin Laden’s death and the auto bailout–were too technical or abstract to explain. His various economic moves in early 2009 prevented another Great Depression, but on the advice of his consultants, Obama isn’t even using the word stimulus anymore because it’s too controversial. His health care plan represented not just a moral step forward but also a path to lower prices–especially for small businesses–and a reform of a wasteful medical system, but it hasn’t been implemented yet, and it has been demagogued to near death by the Republicans.
In fact, the President has bought the basic Republican assumption: that the public loathes government action. This has severely limited his ability to talk about his plans for the next four years, even though the libertarian trope is a delusion easily refuted. The federal response to the hurricane is Exhibit A; just ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And Obama’s failure, or unwillingness, to make the case for his essentially moderate vision of governance has raised major questions about his continuing ability to lead the nation.
You can actually see the drool marks on the pages of the magazine. Where to even begin? Klein’s biggest complaints are a “largely negative campaign” and that Obama is “… more concerned with Romney’s weaknesses than with the strength of his own record.” Hey Hammer, don’t hurt ’em. And that’s the end of the negatives for Mr. Obama.
- Tactical, largely negative campaign
- Failure to make the case for his moderate vision of governance
- Killed Osama Bin Laden
- Bailed out the auto industry
- Saved country from another Great Depression
- Health plan represents a moral step forward, lower prices for businesses and a reform of a wasteful health system
That’s it. In a piece that’s set up as a look at the failures of both campaigns we get two mealy, halfhearted criticisms of Obama and four accolade’s that if true would place him atop of the pantheon of greatest Presidents of all time. Let’s look again at the previous two paragraphs, this time with with the slobbering removed.
The President has run a
tactical,largely negative campaign, more concerned with Romney’s weaknesses than with the strength of his own record. It is almost as if his victories–with the exception of Osama bin Laden’s death and the auto bailout–were too technical or abstract to explain. His various economic moves in early 2009 prevented another Great Depression, but on the advice of his consultants, Obama isn’t even using the word stimulus anymore because it’s too controversial. His health care plan represented not just a moral step forward but also a path to lower prices–especially for small businesses–and a reform of a wasteful medical system, but it hasn’t been implemented yet, and it has been demagogued to near death by the Republicans.
In fact, the President has bought the basic Republican assumption: that the public loathes government action.This has severely limited his ability to talk about his plans for the next four years, even though the libertarian trope is a delusion easily refuted. The federal response to the hurricane is Exhibit A; just ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.And Obama’s failure, or unwillingness, to make the case for his essentially moderatevision of governance has raised major questions about his continuing ability to lead the nation.
Apparently Joe just needed to add to his word count and without anything negative to say, he had to fill the article with Obama’s virtues instead.
Okay, so maybe Klein is just a teddy bear, he talks tough, but really he’s just an ol’ softie. Hopefully he extends the same charity to Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney hasn’t made much of a case for himself either, and his quick-change policy reversals, false claims and false advertising raise serious questions about whether he has the character and constancy to be President. In the week before the election, he put up an insultingly false ad about the President’s record on the auto bailout. He claimed that Obama had “sold Chrysler to Italians” who were sending Jeep jobs to China. Chrysler immediately repudiated this. The truth is, Chrysler is adding Jeep jobs in the U.S. and, given its resurgence here, may boost Jeep production in China for Chinese consumption. This sort of ad seems particularly galling given the fact that Romney opposed the auto bailout and has spent his whole business career embedded in the global economy, selling companies to the “Italians,” or whomever, so that they could send jobs to “China,” or wherever. It is rare to find a candidate so willing to repudiate his life’s work.
I suspect that Ohioans, who are legitimately grateful to the President for saving the auto industry, will see past the arrant cynicism of Romney’s ad. But perhaps they won’t. The Romney campaign’s assumption from the start–from its very first television ad, a sleazy attempt to pin John McCain’s 2008 reluctance to “talk about the economic crisis” as something Obama said more recently–was that it could get away with practically anything, including the full-body transformation of its candidate in the debates from severe conservative to warmhearted moderate. Given the closeness of the election, who can say Romney’s gamble hasn’t paid off?
Republicans will say Obama has been every bit as cynical as Romney, and there have been moments when the Obama campaign has been less than heroic. But we need to be clear about this: there is nothing close to moral equivalency here. The Romney campaign has indulged in many of the worst fantasies promulgated by the GOP’s wingnuts, from the Obama “apology tour,” which never happened, to blatant misrepresentations of Obamacare and the President’s Middle East policy, to the constant undertow of implication that the President is not quite American enough.
Okay, so maybe not. Not that Romney was beyond reproach. Klein could have dedicated an entire column to Romney’s shortcomings and called it “Why I’m Voting for Obama”, but that would have given away his actual political position. Instead Klein sets up his column as a look into an unsatisfying campaign, with himself as merely an observer writing from a position of impassioned non-partisanship. He never explicitly picks Romney or Obama, yet as soon as he begins writing about them he cannot help himself. Romney — who was arguably more moderate than Obama — gets excoriated at every turn for his campaign. Obama’s only faults are that he can’t make America understand how great he is.
This kind of writing is the gold standard in mainstream publications. Liberal writers are accepted as average. Their views are considered normal, unexceptional, the standard. Conservatives on the other hand are always labeled as such. In Klein’s article “A Tea Party Test Case: A headstrong conservative faces an Iraq war heroine in a pivotal House race”, the headline looks innocuous, but the bias is there. There is no labeling of the Democratic opponent; she is an Iraq war vet and a heroine. The Republican incumbent is a “headstrong conservative.”
This is Klein’s shtick, and it is repeated in every single column; play the impartial observer, then blame conservatives for all of America’s problems. He is a shill for the Democrat party and an apologist for Obama. His February 25 Time column “Aiming Low, Missing Greatness” tries to blame Obama’s opponents across the aisle for preventing him from rising to greatness and implementing his glorious liberal programs.
But what do you expect from a man who swore on his journalistic integrity that he didn’t write the book Primary Colors?
So carry on Joe Klein, keep writing your love letters to your liberal agenda. Keep pretending to be above the fray, a man unencumbered by bias, or political labels. Keep lying to yourself and to the unfortunate ever shrinking readership of Time.
Klein, you’re a partisan wolf in sensible centrist sheep’s clothing, and I’m happy to make you the opening entry of the “Loathe List.”