Monday, January 08, 2007

When you're Joe Klein, every Democratic politician looks like a nail.

Joe Klein is part of TIME's new group blog, which should provide a good opportunity to whether his has an undeserved reputation for axing Democrats and sparing Republicans. Yesterday he saw Nancy Pelosi on TV Sunday morning and concluded that she's ignorant:
[O]ver on Face the Nation, Nancy Pelosi tries to seem reasonable about Iraq, but then says that Bush should "change the mission" of the U.S. forces to training Iraqis, fighting terrorism, logistics and force protection...Which is exactly what the disastrous Bush policy HAS been for the past two years. I like Pelosi's new stateswomanlike demeanor, but--like too many Democrats--she simply doesn't know what she's talking about when it comes to the military operations in Iraq.
Klein says that she's right about the policy -- " it's too late for a surge," he announces -- but apparently the trick to sounding smart is to be authoritative without giving reasons, and it's more important to Klein that Pelosi gives the impression "simply doesn't know what she's talking about" than that she is right and Bush is wrong.

Meanwhile, the NYT reports that Bush's new Iraq policy will include benchmarks:
President Bush’s new Iraq policy will establish a series of goals that the Iraqi government will be expected to meet to try to ease sectarian tensions and stabilize the country politically and economically, senior administration officials said Sunday. Among these 'benchmarks' are steps that would draw more Sunnis into the political process, finalize a long-delayed measure on the distribution of oil revenue and ease the government’s policy toward former Baath Party members, the officials said.
Benchmarks! Sounds like a great idea! But as Matt Yglesias points out, it's what we've been trying (unsuccessfully) to do for years. Yglesias notes this piece by Thomas Ricks, covering a Bush press conference last October:
The president talked repeatedly about "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq, using that word 13 times. But he did not discuss the consequences of the Iraqi government missing those targets. Such a question, he said, was "hypothetical."

That response left unclear how the benchmarks would be different from previous times when the United States has set out intentions, only to back down. For example, the original war plan envisioned the U.S. troop presence in Iraq being cut to 30,000 by the fall of 2003. Last year, some top U.S. commanders thought they would be able to significantly cut the U.S. troop level in Iraq this year -- a hope now officially abandoned. More recently, the U.S. military all but withdrew from Baghdad, only to have to have to reenter the capital as security evaporated from its streets and Iraqi forces proved unable to restore calm by themselves.
So if Joe Klein is willing to say that the Speaker of the House of Representatives "simply doesn't know what she's talking about when it comes to the military operations in Iraq," what are the chances that he would say the same about the President?

Klein also saw Brent Scowcroft sounding stupid with George Stephanopoulos:
He tells Stephanopoulos that he might favor more troops in Iraq to stop ethnic cleansing in Baghdad...then says he thinks it's a bad idea for American troops to try to police a civil war--which means that he's for and against the same thing. When Stephanopoulos catches him on this, Scowcroft hems, haws and seems genuinely embarrassed. In fact, he's hemmed in by his loyalty to the old man: he doesn't want a surge, but doesn't want to slam dunk Junior, either.
Got it? Pelosi: doesn't know what she's talking about. Krugman: An "ill-informed dilettante." Scowcroft: loyal. Pelosi and Krugman advocate the position Klein agrees with, and he hammers them. Scowcroft doesn't, and he gets praise.

As you show in your post and many people have pointed out, this is standard for joke line. I guess that this approach shows his "seriousness" to "serious people" such as broder, hannity, rice, etc. Certainly Krugman, Alterman, Boehlert, etc, are not serious because they right to oppose the nonsense coming out of WaPo, Time, Newsweek, and others
Thanks for the comment, which is part of what prompted my next post.
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