Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Opposing the War

Ezra writes:

If Klein really was confidently prescient about our impending folly, then he was quiet and timid during a time when he could've played a leading role legitimizing anti-war opinion and diverting the country's disastrous trajectory. How different would the atmosphere have been if the talk shows could've booked Joe Klein, rather than Janeane Garofalo, to argue against the invasion? That Klein remained circumspect during the moment when his judgment could have mattered is all the worse, and it discredits him from associating with those who stood tall, said no, and paid a public price for their courage.

No disrespect intended towards Janeane (from either me or I presume Ezra), but it's important to remember that during the runup to the war Janeane Garofalo was the most prominent anti-war voice. I've talked to her about it and she's the first one to say how absurd it was.

Joe Klein isn't the only one. There were pundits at the time who I respect a hell of a lot more than Klein (easy when going from zero respect to positive) who were hedging their bits a bit too much about Iraq at the time. Hell, even I probably was a bit and I was some anonymous dude on the internets. That was a truly absurd and awful time in our country, and few other than crazy bloggers felt the ability to speak up.

Still, Joe Klein didn't. A Slate article suggesting that maybe Al Gore might have a few good points doesn't qualify as expressing opposition to the war. Awhile back I researched as much as I could (don't claim it's comprehensive) all of Joe Klein's available writings and pronouncements on Iraq, and this was the most solid anti-war expression I could find:

MR. KLEIN: I think from a diplomatic and global political standpoint at this point, the administration is going to have to show its cards. It's going to have to show exactly what we know about what's going on in there, the way Adlai Stevenson did at the United Nations in 1962 before the Cuban missile crisis, or else we don't have a case. We may go ahead and do it in any case, but it's going to hurt us long term, big time, in the rest of the world. So now is the time to do that or not. And I still think that, you know, the sequencing of this is all wrong. We've got a lot of other things that we should be doing in this war against terror before we go after this guy.

That's hardly a full-throated denunciation of the war.

Klein's the one who is trying to argue he opposed the war. Maybe in his heart of hearts he did, but he didn't choose to use whatever platforms he had (that quote is from Meet the Press, about as prominent a platform as you get).

I don't really understand why Klein likes to refer to critics who do little more than repeat his own words back to him as "insane." (listen at 37:20) I guess that's the dignified civil discourse we're supposed to get from our elite pundits from their elite perches.

Many people were disappointments in 2002-2003. Not all of them. But too many. Klein was a coward then, and he's dishonest about that fact now. Very sad.