I don’t agree with a lot of what Joe Klein is saying here but I think his central point is a good, important one:
Given the heinous dust that’s been raised, it seems likely that end-of-life counseling will be dropped from the health-reform legislation. But that’s a small point, compared with the larger issue that has clouded this summer: How can you sustain a democracy if one of the two major political parties has been overrun by nihilists? And another question: How can you maintain the illusion of journalistic impartiality when one of the political parties has jumped the shark? (See pictures of angry health-care protesters.)
I’m not going to try. I’ve written countless “Democrats in Disarray” stories over the years and been critical of the left on numerous issues in the past. This year, the liberal insistence on a marginally relevant public option has been a tactical mistake that has enabled the right’s “government takeover” disinformation jihad. There have been times when Democrats have run demagogic scare campaigns on issues like Social Security and Medicare. There are more than a few Democrats who believe, in practice, that government should be run for the benefit of government employees’ unions. There are Democrats who are so solicitous of civil liberties that they would undermine legitimate covert intelligence collection. There are others who mistrust the use of military power under almost any circumstances. But these are policy differences, matters of substance. The most liberal members of the Democratic caucus — Senator Russ Feingold in the Senate, Representative Dennis Kucinich in the House, to name two — are honorable public servants who make their arguments based on facts. They don’t retail outright lies. Hyperbole and distortion certainly exist on the left, but they are a minor chord in the Democratic Party.
Klein has made a career out of concern-trolling Democrats, praising “conservative intellectuals”, sucking up to Hugh Hewitt, and getting a boner every time The Decider gave him a new nickname. In other words, he’s a fairly typical modern day “liberal” pundit.
So, in some sense, he deserves credit for saying the obvious: that whatever flaws the Democrats have, the Republicans are completely worthless and any comparison between the two is essentially ludicrious, that say what you will about the tenets of the Democratic party, dude, at least it’s an ethos.
In another sense, it’s silly to think of Klein or others of his ilk as free-standing objects rather than as cogs in a big conventional wisdom machine. And that’s why I’m happy to see this column. Perhaps it marks the beginning of willingness of the media to speak honestly about what the Republican party has become.