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Joe Klein takes on the leftsophere
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, January 09, 2007

TIME's new blog, "Swamplands", opened its virtual doors yesterday and generated a bit of controversy. Its 4 contributors are pretty well known: Ann Marie Cox, Joe Klein, Karen Tumulty, Jay Carney.

The controversy was generated by Joe Klein when he took Paul Krugman to task:
I'm afraid I'm going to get cranky about this: The Democrats who oppose the so-called "surge" are right. But they have to be careful not to sound like ill-informed dilettantes when talking about it.

The latest to make a fool of himself is Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who argues that those who favor the increase in troops are either cynical or delusional.
Cut to the comment section where most of the commenters went after Klein:
How on earth do you know whom Paul Krugman has talked to? Did you talk to him? Perhaps you should do some homework before spouting off. If we're keeping a record of who's more often been right — Klein or Krugman, I believe the needle tips in Krugman's favor.
And:
Reflexively trying to complete a mission that has been lost — how is that not delusional?
And:
Of course, Klein omits the fact that others, not Krugman, called the surge "cynical" or "delusional." Once again, here's Kein, reporting via stereotype rather than fact. Enough with this trying to have it both ways in everything Klein writes, hoping to push this false Centrism he advocates. I'm just tired of it and it's wrong.
These typify the comments his post received. I'm not sure Joe Klein ever got such immediate feedback on anything he's written. Hey Joe, welcome to the world of blogging.

Now it should be noted that Joe Klein was against the war in Iraq and so stated in a Slate article in 2002. But in a follow up post, he makes a very important point based on observing the reaction to his first post:
The illiberal left just hates it when I point out that the Democratic Party's naivete on national security—and the left wing tendency to assume every U.S. military action abroad is criminal—just aren't very helpful electorally. The fact that I've been opposed to the Iraq war ever since this 2002 article in Slate just makes it all the more aggravating. But it's possible to have been against the war and to hope for the best in Iraq. I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of Americans who now oppose the war are praying for a turn for the better in Iraq. Listening to the leftists, though, it's easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure.
I think that is a fair question to be directed to those who've been war critics from the beginning. For some out there it isn't clear which is true. I'd imagine for the vast majority of war critics they do indeed "hope for the best" concerning Iraq. I'd also caveat that by saying that while they hope for the best they're not convinced Iraq is 'recoverable'. That, of course, doesn't mean they're rooting for failure. But I'd also say, reading some of the leftosphere, that Joe Klein is on to something ... there are those who, while maybe not rooting for failure, don't particularly care if our effort is a failure. And then there is indeed a small minority of that minority which actually do want us to fail.

So Klein issues a challenge:
And so a challenge to those who slagged me in their comments. Can you honestly say the following:

Even though I disagree with this escalation, I am hoping that General Petraeus succeeds in calming down Baghdad.
I'll be interested in seeing the reaction. My guess is we'll see some who simply can't find it in themselves to say that. Whether they'll actually express that is another thing altogether.
 
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I think that is a fair question to be directed to those who’ve been war critics from the beginning. For some out there it isn’t clear which is true.
Ask them that and they’ll go ballistic on you for questioning their patriotism. And then call you a chickenhawk in the next breath. Irony is lost on the ideologically blind, deaf, and dumb.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Klein realizes, as many on the left do not, that this is at root an information war. The enemy is spending a lot of their effort to influence the press and the public in the West. Therefore reacting exactly the way the enemy wants has strategic consequences, whether the left likes to admit it or not.

I think denial of this is one of the factors that make some war opponents so touchy when you assert that they want us to fail (as ChrisB discusses above). As best as I can tell, some of them really would like the Iraq war to be a failure so that their domestic ideological opponents lose face and presumably lose elections later. In their mind, that’s as deeply as they think about it.

They don’t want to think about the wider implications - that their actions are exactly what the enemy is counting on. So they get defensive when that subject comes up. They don’t want to admit that they’re being manipulated by religious zealots, so they just pretend that there’s no connection between their actions and what the enemy is trying to accomplish.

They want to cast their whole outlook as just honest, productive dissent. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt on that, though I do wish they would look at the bigger picture. But when, on occasion, their attitude veers into poorly disguised glee at bad news from Iraq, it’s hard to just see that as just normal political dissent. There’s a reason why for decades Washington had the mantra that "politics stops at the water’s edge". When dissent has the side-effect of enabling our enemies, there’s a cost to it that the dissenters should recognize.

A lesser number of anti-war folks have a glorifed view of the "poor third world masses struggling against the imperialists", and really do want them to win and us to lose. They’ve always hated the military, and most hate capitalism as a system. They’re generally pretty up front about those feelings - see the signs they carry at their protests. I don’t think that contingent is very large, and they’re beyond rational discussion anyway, even with folks on their own side of the political spectrum.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Although I wasn’t among the commenters that slagged Klein,
Listening to the leftists, though, it’s easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure.
And so a challenge to those who slagged me in their comments. Can you honestly say the following:
Even though I disagree with this escalation, I am hoping that General Petraeus succeeds in calming down Baghdad.
Is just patronizing rubbish.

For me, it’s not about going ballistic over being questioned on patriotism. I am often unhinged, but I dismiss these questions as the non sequiturs that they are.

Klein realizes, as many on the left do not, that this is at root an information war. The enemy is spending a lot of their effort to influence the press and the public in the West.
Seems to me that the enemy is spending most of their time strapping bombs to themselves and killing civilians as well as military.
They don’t want to think about the wider implications - that their actions are exactly what the enemy is counting on. So they get defensive when that subject comes up. They don’t want to admit that they’re being manipulated by religious zealots, so they just pretend that there’s no connection between their actions and what the enemy is trying to accomplish.
Then how would you explain persons like myself that was against this action before the war? How were persons like myself "manipulated" before any of this action took place?
And it was the "wider implications" that persuaded me against this action. The "big picture" that I saw, was a divided regional tinderbox waiting for a spark. The "big picture" was a disaster that unfortunately came to fruition.
And more color won’t help.

What exactly gives you evidence of your "big picture"? What was the evidence before?
Was it soothsayer Kristol ?
"There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular."

I am unaware of the poorly disguised glee of the Left at the bad news coming out of Iraq that you speak of, but in my circles, there is no glee whatsoever. So,
When dissent has the side-effect of enabling our enemies, there’s a cost to it that the dissenters should recognize.
Then what are we dissenters supposed to do? According to you, if I speak out against this action, I "enable our enemies".

Am I just to hide underneath my blanket and hope that this nightmare will just end?
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com
Klein realizes, as many on the left do not, that this is at root an information war. The enemy is spending a lot of their effort to influence the press and the public in the West.
Seems to me that the enemy is spending most of their time strapping bombs to themselves and killing civilians as well as military.
Exactly. And why would they do this, Pouge?
Certainly, they understand there is no hope of a military victory, when fought in this fashion. They’re doing this because it makes headlines.

And why would that be a concern?

Because of people like yourself who they know will react to them.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
I should add:

React in such a way so as to give them victory ... one they could never achieve, either via acts of war, or by way of the inevitable peace talks, sans such headline making action.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Listening to the leftists, though, it’s easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure.
And so a challenge to those who slagged me in their comments. Can you honestly say the following:
Even though I disagree with this escalation, I am hoping that General Petraeus succeeds in calming down Baghdad.
Is just patronizing rubbish.


That would be ’no,’ then?
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Am I just to hide underneath my blanket and hope that this nightmare will just end?
No. What’s your plan to win?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I notice that for all his bluster, Pogue never actually answers the question.

Pogue, I’ll just take your non-response to mean "No, I actively root for American failure and deaths because it would be bad for Bush"

Thanks!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I am unaware of the poorly disguised glee of the Left at the bad news coming out of Iraq that you speak of, but in my circles, there is no glee whatsoever.
You obviously need a wider circle, or maybe you don’t. Cleave to it Pogue, it is a precious thing. I see that glee and I see it amongst many who would claim they do not wish for it. The urge to be right and your opponents to be wrong is a powerful thing and affects us all, war opponents included. Do you not think that war proponents want for this to turn out well in the end to a large extent because they get to say I told you so? At least that impulse is aimed at winning rather than losing, but it is there all the same.

Then what are we dissenters supposed to do? According to you, if I speak out against this action, I "enable our enemies".
That seems to smack Pogue of wanting the world to be fair and just, which it surely is not. To dissent in public manifestly supports the enemy and helps bring about the defeat you undoubtedly feared but nevertheless hope doesn’t occur. Yet, to remain supportive of what you believe to be a flawed and dangerous policy may cause more suffering in the long run. To put it in blunt Pogue friendly terms, sometimes life is a b*tch. There are no good choices, just better ones. I seem to remember somebody once putting it this way:
That is one of the paradoxes and tensions of a free society. Life just doesn’t provide for a simple neat set of rules of behavior. There are costs to dissent and those doing so have to weigh them. If more Iraqis die because you give jihadis and Baathist thugs hope that we will pull out or moral legitimacy, then that is a real cost to be weighed. It may be uncomfortable that doing what we may feel to be right may be helping a great evil in other respects, but that is what you have to weigh.
I think there are many ways to have opposed this war and also worked for it to be as successful as possible. Few people chose those avenues or even bothered to think such things through.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
I am unaware of the poorly disguised glee of the Left at the bad news coming out of Iraq that you speak of . . .
Want a sample?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Bithead,
Exactly. And why would they do this, Pouge?
Certainly, they understand there is no hope of a military victory, when fought in this fashion. They’re doing this because it makes headlines.


Because, it is their country, hello ? Put urself in their shoes, what would you do ?? Welcome a foreign army in your cities ??

You believe that they understand there is no hope of a military victory. What is the basis of this belief ? The people that are fighting us don’t believe that bithead. That is why they are fighting. Not to get on the frontpage of the Washington Post.

They are just not fighting on our terms, that is all. They just vanished without a fight when we invaded and are fighting us now. That is how the weak *can* defeat a much stronger enemy.
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Because, it is their country, hello ? Put urself in their shoes, what would you do ?? Welcome a foreign army in your cities ??
I didn’t realize those Iranian-born insurgent leaders were born in Iraq...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
You believe that they understand there is no hope of a military victory. What is the basis of this belief ? The people that are fighting us don’t believe that bithead. That is why they are fighting. Not to get on the frontpage of the Washington Post.
They know they have no chance of military victory because they are not stupid.
They are just not fighting on our terms, that is all. They just vanished without a fight when we invaded and are fighting us now. That is how the weak *can* defeat a much stronger enemy.
They are fighting in a way that makes them difficult to eradicate, not one which allows them to defeat us. It is simply not within their means to defeat us.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Because, it is their country, hello ? Put urself in their shoes, what would you do ?? Welcome a foreign army in your cities ??
Perhaps you are unaware of it, so I will lean towards giving you the benefit of the doubt; the recent spike in violence in Iraq, is not because of Iraqis, for the most part. The numerous attacks in the last couple of days, for example, in and around Baghdad, were perpetrated by outsiders; Pakistanis, Syrians, and Iranians. Clearly, they’re not fighting for the reason you say.

You believe that they understand there is no hope of a military victory. What is the basis of this belief ? The people that are fighting us don’t believe that bithead. That is why they are fighting. Not to get on the frontpage of the Washington Post.
They are blowing themselves up, because they know the headlines will change the attitudes here in the U.S., which will lead to our withdrawal, and only thereby, their victory. It’s as simple as that. You’re handing them a victory. How you can live with that, I’m not quite sure, but there it is.

PS:
I responded to your post, Ivan, before I noticed shark saying precisely the same thing as I. Here’s a tip; when you see shark and I coming down on the same side of something it’s a sure fire bet that there’s something to the argument.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Then what are we dissenters supposed to do? According to you, if I speak out against this action, I "enable our enemies".
What are you supposed to do? I can’t answer that question for you. I can only point out the implications of your actions.

I’m not telling you not to dissent. Maybe you think it’s worth helping our enemies because of other factors; you might think in the long term we’re certain to lose anyway and you want it to be as soon as possible, for example.

But to deny the effects of that dissent is to allow yourself to be the ignorant pawn of violent religious fanatics. Pogue, I can’t imagine you being the pawn of anybody.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
In all candor, I am often left with the impression, after discussion like this, that there are a number of people who are dissenting, simply for what they see as the value of dissent itself, not as a value of defeating what they’re dissenting from. Thus we see the situation develop where if Bush is for it, they’re against it. Regardless what ’it’ is.

The arguing of consequentialism is something that’s come up here before in rather loud fashion. In the case I’m thinking of, it was the consequences of putting more democrats in office, supposedly to impose gridlock. We’ve only begun, I fear, to see the consequences of that.... but I hasten to add that the result was quite predictable... if I got it, anyone could have, with even a moderately clear head... and it turned out being nothing short of what I predicted.

That ties in rather neatly with this situation in this way:

I have long since become convinced, that so much of these kinds of arguments, come from a deep seated need to remain "relevant". That need, apparently, runs deeper than the need to actually proceed in the proper direction... in this example, dealing with terrorists.

I can’t help but wonder what the consequences of dissent on THAT topic is going to be.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Is just patronizing rubbish.

That would be ’no,’ then?
It would be much easier for you if it were, wouldn’t it?
I simply refuse to repeat my patriot bona fides to you or anyone else.

And shark,
Pogue, I’ll just take your non-response to mean "No, I actively root for American failure and deaths because it would be bad for Bush"
Thanks!
I’ll just take your feeble remarks to mean, "I’m an insecure ideologue wishing to burden the failures of my ill conceived support onto others while putting off peeling the crusted feces from my threadbare hemroid cushion caused by my unshakable neglect to wipe my ass."
Thanks!

And Lance,
You are not in the habit of giving poor advice. So,
I am unaware of the poorly disguised glee of the Left at the bad news coming out of Iraq that you speak of, but in my circles, there is no glee whatsoever.
You obviously need a wider circle, or maybe you don’t.
Yeah, maybe I don’t. Why on earth would I wish to include idiots into my circle? And as Don illustrated, anyone can seek to find morons displaying behavior to exemplify what amounts to be pawns in their argument.

The frequent denizens of this forum need not to be reminded that one could scour the web looking for members of a particular persuasion doing or saying something completely idiotic.
To dissent in public manifestly supports the enemy and helps bring about the defeat you undoubtedly feared but nevertheless hope doesn’t occur. Yet, to remain supportive of what you believe to be a flawed and dangerous policy may cause more suffering in the long run.
So I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.
Well that’s just perfect.

Oh, oh, no. Step aside. Please allow me.
Am I bending over enough?
You need me to spread them wider?...
...
wider?
...
there? Is that good? Can you get a real good shot of that?


Billy,
Maybe you think it’s worth helping our enemies because of other factors; you might think in the long term we’re certain to lose anyway and you want it to be as soon as possible, for example.
Just to let you know. I beat the holy living sh*t out of my wife just this morning.

But for this I do thank you,
Pogue, I can’t imagine you being the pawn of anybody.
Billy, I am going to put that in my pipe and smoke it right now.

Spurrrrr-gurgle-gurgle-gurgle...
...
Hooooooooooooooooooooooo

Niiiiice

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone`
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com
So I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.
Well that’s just perfect.
So now you understand! That is correct. Much of life is like that by the way. In fact I would suggest it has been the misfortune of Bush to be in that position most of his term in office. I don’t mean the absolutely predictable behavior of his political opponents (that is a non-partisan slam by the way, all political opponents relish putting their opposition in such situations.) I mean the fact that reality has given him no good options from the beginning. Invade Iraq, don’t invade Iraq. Either course had terrible likely outcomes (and we have not come close to seeing the worst possible outcomes yet) and outside of extreme good fortune his black eye was assured regardless of his choices.

Much of life and leadership is about picking that burden up and making your way through as gracefully as possible. It is a muddle through world my friend. Dissent or not, it’ll be tough choices all around.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Bingo. Give that man a Cigar and his choice of prizes from the third shelf.

I mean, how would it be now, had Bush NOT invaded? You know that the Democrats would tag the man as being unwilling to respond... and would be blamed for the further attacks that would have directly resulted from that non-response. At the end of the day, Bush simply took that the Democrats were going to bicth no matter WHAT he did, and mostly discounted it from his decision making process.

Indeed, Bush’ biggest error to my mind was where he deviated from that... trying to under play the war effort, in terms of troop numbers and whatnot specifically to keep the anti-war left at bay.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

 
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