Yet again, everything in the picture is in the article.
When reviewing Jonah Goldberg’s most recent effluvia (because of course Jonah fucking Myparentscoattailsaremadeofgoldberg needs to be reviewed in the Times) Joe Klein makes arguments that are not only more stupid than the ones he quotes Goldberg as making, but ones that are more socially pernicious. He uses cultural tropes that are more damaging than the ones he quotes his reviewed author making (again, this is Jonah Goldberg).
Some of this is ideological and or career oriented. Klein responds to Goldberg’s whining about centrists’ habit of just taking an arbitrary point between two conflicting positions with “that’s how policy is made, son; COLA increases for Social Security is not all or nothing.” BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT HE’S CRITIQUING, YOU CACK. When the various Senate centrist pods arbitrarily lop off 30% of stimulus spending before they vote for it, just because they have to change something and not entirely endorse one side’s position, that is not sound public policy. That is the most public masturbation currently allowed under US law.
Some of Klein’s awfulness just seems like him working out something deeper within his character. He says that Goldberg is right to go after the cliche “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”, calling it “liberal righteousness” and “gagging”. Well, Joseph, mayhaps that particular refrain in the public square need not ring out quite so loudly if you didn’t spend most of 2002 through 2010 questioning the patriotism of dissenters of the Iraq War. Is there any reason to be this glaringly and blatantly blind to your own positions if not for working out tensions within your inner life? Maybe. I can’t see them though.
But mostly Klein is just operating in “Fuck you I wrote Primary Colors” mode. When he taking on Goldberg’s dislike of slippery slope arguments, Klein thinks Goldberg contradicts himself when he later says “Liberals are uncomfortable with the topic of patriotism because their core philosophical impulses are to make America a different country than it is.” Klein thinks this is an adequate summary of that position: “In other words, the reforming instinct — the progressive insistence that meat be inspected by the government, for example — is inherently un-American because it’s a first step down the slippery slope toward government control?” You don’t have to understand the Goldberg to defeat the Goldberg, for fuck’s sake, all you need is an 8th grade equivalent of reading and abstract reasoning skills. To, for example, determine when someone is making a slippery slope argument and when one is not.
I mean, what do you do with someone who just does not give a shit about what he’s doing to this degree? You can’t take anything he says seriously, but you can’t ignore it either, because it’s in the New York Fucking Times and it’s clogging up teh discourse, pollutin R ideaz.
In that way, this column is worse than Goldberg’s asshat book, because no one who is going to make a political or policy difference at any level is going to be changed one way or another by his twaddle. Klein’s stuff, though, not only gets read by people who can be swayed by this stuff, but also by people in immediate position to impose their visions of politics and society on the rest of us. Klein is mainly writing for them, anyway.
The essential paradox of centrism. You can’t engage with it intellectually because it’s so vapid, but you can’t ignore it because it’s so pernicious. Getting a blog and swearing about it seems as good as anything else.