Reply to Joe Klein

04/14/2006 01:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I've got a new Think Again column called McCarthyism: Standard Operating Procedure, here and a new Nation column here called "AIPAC's Complaint." Both deal with the reaction to the Walt/Mearsheimer report, and I'll have more to say about each next week.

Slacker Friday:

Joe Klein-
In his recent account of a breakfast book party at the home of Tina Brown and Harry Evans, Eric Alterman misquoted me slightly but significantly. What I actually said was "the hate America tendency of the [Democratic Party's] left wing" had made it harder for Democrats to challenge Republicans on foreign policy. Alterman had me castigating the "liberal wing" of the party, which I was careful not to do. There is a crucial difference between liberals and leftists, especially on foreign policy--even though Republicans (and leftist-wingers) have successfully conflated the two over the past few decades. The default position of leftists like, say, Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation, is that America is essentially a malignant, imperialistic force in the world and the use of American military power is almost always wrong. Liberals have a more benign, and correct, view of America's role in the world and tend to favor the use of military force if it is exercised judiciously, as a last resort, and in a multilateral context--with U.N. approval or through NATO. The first Gulf War, the overthrow of the Taliban and the Kosovo intervention met these criteria; Bush's Iraq invasion clearly did not. That was the point I was trying to make at breakfast.

Eric replies: Klein may or may not be right about his use of "left" vs. "liberal," though I showed the item before it ran to someone who was sitting at his table, and received a note about it from another attendee who was sitting at my table and nobody noticed any inaccuracies. This may be because it was accurate, or it may be because Klein is playing cutesy by making a distinction without a difference that nobody but him noticed. In case he really does not know why this is the case, I'll clarify it for him: "Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation" are not a "wing" of the Democratic Party: They are not even in the Democratic Party, as far as I know. (I also don't accept that they "hate America," well, except Alexander Cockburn.) I know Moore was a vocal supporter of Ralph Nader in 2000 as were the people at The Nation to whom--I assume--Klein refers. When one speaks of the "left wing" of the party--that is, people who are running for office which was the clear context of the discussion--one is clearly referring to the likes of Ted Kennedy, Russell Feingold, Barney Frank, and the late Paul Wellstone. Those are the people whom everyone at the assembled breakfast understood Klein to be smearing, as he has done repeatedly in Time and elsewhere. Go to my column here and Media Matters here for more examples.

And while we are on the topic, I'd note the following post-Florida 2004 quote from The Book on Bush:

"Given the circumstances," wrote the commentator Joe Klein in the liberal New Yorker magazine, "there is only one possible governing strategy: a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship."

Got it? Only one possibility. If you disagree with Klein, you're a moron, divorced from reality (and you probably hate America). The same kind of hubris is on display here in the loving interview Klein gave Rory O'Connor. After a series of ad hominem, personal attacks on me in which he answers my criticism of his work by saying they are "typical of his essential narcissistic laziness...just spews opinions without having any information or doing any reporting,... It's what he does instead of working ... He's so peripheral, I forget he's in the business until someone calls or e-mails me his latest attack!... written lots of inaccurate, foolish stuff..." Klein announces, "People like me who favor this program don't yet know enough about it yet... Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do."

Get it: If you disagree with me, you're stupid (and you Hate America.) That's Time's most liberal columnist.