Let me be honest: I loath Joe Klein. To me he represents everything that’s wrong with the smug, self-satisfied, head-up-its-ass D.C. media establishment. Beltway opinion-makers live in a bizarre bubble of "conventional wisdom" that consists almost entirely of what they tell each other at cocktail parties and on Sunday-morning cable shows. They are consistently, grossly, embarrassingly manipulated by those in power — the very ones they’re supposed to be afflicting.
You couldn’t find a better example than Klein’s current op-ed in TIME.
For one thing, there’s this snotty aside:
[Bush] proposed that [Social Security] be made solvent by reducing benefits on a sliding scale, according to income. This utterly responsible and progressive proposition was greeted by phony bleats of outrage from leading Democrats, who proved once again that they are more interested in the demagogic exploitation of the issue than they are in the impact of baby boom retirement on their grandchildren.
This is preposterous (screwing the middle class to preserve tax cuts for the rich is "progressive"?) in too many ways to count, but this isn’t a Social Security blog, so I’ll outsource that work to others.
But the column goes on to express support for an energy policy that would decrease U.S. reliance on oil. I’m for that, right? So what’s my beef?
I’ll tell you. Now that hard-right hawks have jumped on board — now that, as Klein says, energy independence has moved from a "soft, wet" environmental issue to a "hard, dry national-security issue" — Klein supports it.
But reducing U.S. reliance on oil was a good idea last year; it was a good idea on 9/11; it was a good idea before 9/11. It’s been a good idea for decades — for reasons of pollution, global warming, economic competitiveness, geopolitical strategy, and national security. And who’s been out there saying so, risking public censure, mockery, and coordinated, well-funded character assassination? Environmentalists.
Yes, the "soft, wet" ones showed more prescience and more balls than Joe Klein has on his best day.
But now the tough kids, the jocks, have adopted the issue as their own, so Klein — the bookish nerd in the corner who desperately craves their approval, never realizing he is now and will always be their tool — wants to join the team. "Me too!"
But this isn’t just high school played out on a national scale. This stuff matters. These guys, the progressive pundits in D.C., are supposed to be on our side. They’re supposed to be our voice inside the establishment. Instead they appropriate our issues while taking cheap, lazy shots at us.
Ultimately, I don’t care. I think it’s a good thing that the righties are jumping on board, because after all, my goal is not glory but a sane, sustainable energy policy. But that timid, weasely suckup Joe Klein will get no credit from me.