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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

FDL Late Nite: Joe Klein In His Own Words, First Semi-Final Round

Whenever Father Tim, Tweety and others decide to have the rare, one-off episode where they lure a Democrat into their lairs, more often than not the quote-unquote "Democrat" they book is Joe Klein. He then becomes the emblem for the party, the pundit who comes to mind when many Americans think "Democrat." He's the one the bookers have on speed dial, the one chosen to represent the "liberal" viewpoint on a weekly basis in Time Magazine.

Did it ever occur to Joe that the country's low opinion of "Democrats" -- something he is always quick to invoke -- is in large part due to the fact that people instinctively loathe him?

Here are tonight's entries for "Joe Klein: In His Own Words":
1. "For too many liberals, all secret intelligence activities are "fruit," and bitter fruit at that. The government is presumed guilty of illegal electronic eavesdropping until proven innocent. This sort of civil-liberties fetishism is a hangover from the Vietnam era, when the Nixon Administration wildly exceeded all bounds of legality—spying on antiwar protesters and civil rights leaders."

2. "There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations. There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them..."

3. "The possibility of vice-presidential anguish was barely mentioned by most commentators at first. Cheney is a tough customer; Oprahfied "sharing" isn't his way. But then, there he was, with that haunted look in his Fox News interview, saying, "[T]he image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling ..." Hunting had given him "great pleasure" in the past, but he wasn't so sure now. In fact, he sounded a lot like the combat veterans I've spoken with over the years, for whom the living nightmare of firing a weapon under questionable circumstances is a constant theme."

4. "Most polls indicate that a strong majority of Americans favor the [Patriot] act, and I suspect that a strong majority would favor the NSA program as well, if its details were declassified and made known."

5. "Populism is one of the more romantic and less admirable American political traditions. It purports to represent the interests of the little guy -- —the people, not the powerful... but more often than not it has manifested itself as a witlessly reactionary bundle of prejudices: nativist, protectionist, isolationist, and paranoid. The central assumption is that the little guy is so aggrieved that he can only be roused to citizenship by an appeal to his basest suspicions. Exploitation and venality are posited as the central fact of American life: The country is being taken to the cleaners by wicked plutocrats."

6. "I'm a so-called journalist who views his job as doing the legwork and then calling them as I see them. And I'm tired of civilians of the left and the right who, in their infinite wisdom, spew vituperative nonsense instead of asking substantive questions when they have the opportunity."

7. "John Kerry--John Kerry's been having a very bad cheese year. First he was going to put a Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak in Philly and now this."

8. "“In a way, President Bush is the beneficiary of 40 years of Democratic policy -- not just affirmative action, which helped create a broader, deeper pool of successful nonwhite college graduates, but also the Democratic Party'’s historic support for civil rights legislation, the feminist revolution and the easing of strict immigration policies in the 1960s, policies long opposed by many Republicans. But the Bush Cabinets have also been very much a reflection of who George W. Bush is and always has been."

9. "The Democrats' relative silence on all this has been prudent, but telling. Their implicit position has been to err toward law. 'The notion that Florida failed to do its job in the Schiavo case is wrong,' said Congressman Barney Frank, one of the few Democrats willing to speak about the case. 'Procedurally, there was a great deal of due process.' Frank was right, but it was a curiously sterile pronouncement, bereft of the Congressman's usual raucous humanity. It exemplified the Democratic Party's recent overdependence on legal process, a culture of law that has supplanted legislative consideration of vexing social issues. This is democracy once removed."
We will have four nights of semi-finals so that we can carefully evaluate each of the entries. Please vote only once and by number, but you are encouraged to passionately defend your choice for the benefit of those who come after you.

There will be two prizes -- one for the best Joe Klein quote, and there will also be a winner of the special Charles P. Pierce award for excellence in Klein Snark inspired by this piece (to be decided by the FDL panel of judges). Both will win a DVD copy of the dark and brilliant series Action. We will have three more nights of semi-finals before the final vote (one contestant from each night will make it to the finals), so please give your careful consideration to the task at hand.

Joe always speaks so highly of us, we really need to show up for him.