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Tag: Joe Klein (Page 1 of 2)

The Buffoonery of Herman Cain

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain waves as he arrives on stage before the start of the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Richard Brian (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

Few people if any thought Herman Cain could be a viable candidate for the GOP nomination. I certainly didn’t think so, particularly when he made some early gaffes.

Yet he’s leading the polls, presumably because he’s a Tea Party conservative with a sunny personality who has been pushing a simplistic 9-9-9 plan. How long will it last? Who knows when you consider some of the candidates that the Tea Party supported in the 2010 Senate races.

Even before Cain’s embarrassing debate performance last night, Joe Klein called him out in response to this Cain quote:

When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know.

Klein wasn’t impressed:

Let’s say Cain was just joking, which is his all-purpose excuse on the myriad of occasions where his ignorance erupts into public view. Let’s say he actually knows that the name of the country is Uzbekistan. Does a prospective President of the United State really want to make fun of that? I mean–and I hope, Herman, you’re listening–there is a major airport in southern Uzbekistan that NATO has been using as a crucial transfer point for troops and materiel headed into Afghanistan. Wouldn’t want to tick off the Uzbek president, Islam Karimov…because it might make life significantly tougher for our troops over there. Not the sort of thing one jokes about, Hermanator.

I know what I’m about to say is impolite, but Herman Cain strikes me as something of a jerk and an ignoramus. He has made absolutely outrageous statements about Muslims, immigrants and homosexuals; he takes the most extreme position imaginable on abortion. Indeed, I have never, ever seen him acknowledge the idea that complexity exists in the world…or that an ability to weed through complex issues might be a qualification for the presidency.

No, the guy is a marketer. He had other people handle administration and finance at Godfather’s; he was all about the pies. Hence, we have his 9-9-9 plan, a truly rancid scheme to benefit the rich at the expense of the rest of the country, a scheme that would tax a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

As if to make Joe Klein look like a genius, Herman Cain had one of those days yesterday that would make normal people cringe. First, he stated on CNN before the debate that he would be open to trading all the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for an American soldier held hostage by al Qaeda. He was called out on this idiotic statement by none other than Michele Bachmann. If Bachmann makes you look stupid, then you really have problems.

He also sounded like a buffoon as he tried to explain his 9-9-9 plan by using fruit metaphors. The other candidates were not impressed, and I doubt that anyone other than die-hard Tea Party fanatics thought me made any sense. The candidates pretty much ignored Cain after that.

Who knows what happens next. I think Romney took some serious shots yesterday and Rick Perry is obviously going to keep on swinging at him.

The lamest of all possible ducks

Leave it to Joe Klein to sum up the sad spectacle of George W. Bush limping to the finish line of his failed presidency.

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks.

Watching Obama name a cabinet of all-stars is reassuring, though Bush also appointed heavyweights with impressive resumes. You can have the best team in the world, but that team will fail without strong leadership. I’m optimistic that Obama will fare much better than W.

Klein ends his column with a final indictment of Bush’s presidency.

In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one.

The attack on community organizers

The lamest part of last night’s festivities involved the mocking of Obama’s service as a community organizer.

Here’s the response from a group called Catholic Democrats:

Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech tonight mocked her opponent’s work in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She belittled Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer in Catholic parishes on the South Side of Chicago, work he undertook instead of pursuing a lucrative career on Wall Street. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Palin said, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” Community organizing is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice.

Joe Klein goes further:

So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn’t know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed–job training, help with housing and so forth–from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord’s work–the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a “task from God.”)

This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man’s decision “to serve a cause greater than himself,” in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate’s favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service–the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other–as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme.

Perhaps La Pasionaria of the Northern Slope didn’t know this when she read the words they gave her. But Giuliani–a profoundly lapsed Catholic, who must have met more than a few religious folk toiling in the inner cities–should have known. (“I don’t even know what that is,” he sneered.”) What a shameful performance.

It’s amazing to me how low someone like Giuliani will go. He performed well on 9/11, but since then he’s been cashing in on his “celebrity” giving high-priced speeches. When he ran for president he spent $50 million and got one delegate. Perhaps the American people know a fraud when they see one.

In a year where we have economic troubles with ordinary Americans struggling, the GOP decides to attack someone for doing this kind of service early in their career.

None of this is surprising. The GOP has won plenty of elections demonizing and mocking their opponents. This year, with Obama and Biden, they have opponents that will fight back.

McCain’s war with the press

For years, John McCain was the darling of the press. Now that some of them are criticizing him and questioning his VP selection, McCain is going ballistic. The fact that he won’t even go on Larry King is just a joke.

Steve Schmidt and the McCain campaign have made the tactical decision to slime the press and get their supporters all riled up over the “liberal media.” Joe Klein is having none of it.

There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is “a task from God.” The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.

Klein rips McCain

John McCain used to held in high regard by many in the press corps, including guys like Joe Klein. Those days are over.

McCain earned a tremendous amount of respect for the way he ran his 2000 campaign, and in the manner he endured the despicable attacks levied against him and his family during that election. Now he’s decided he can only win by using those same tactics.

Klein used to have lots of nice things to say about McCain, but now he’s fed up, and he’s letting McCain have it.

But there is no excuse for what the McCain campaign is doing on the “putting America first” front. There is no way to balance it, or explain it other than as evidence of a severe character defect on the part of the candidate who allows it to be used. There is a straight up argument to be had in this election: Mcain has a vastly different view from Obama about foreign policy, taxation, health care, government action…you name it. He has lots of experience; it is always shocking to remember that this time four years ago, Barack Obama was still in the Illinois State Legislature. Apparently, though, McCain isn’t confident that conservative policies and personal experience can win, given the ruinous state of the nation after eight years of Bush. So he has made a fateful decision: he has personally impugned Obama’s patriotism and allows his surrogates to continue to do that. By doing so, he has allied himself with those who smeared him, his wife, his daughter Bridget, in 2000. Those tactics won George Bush a primary–and a nomination. But they proved a form of slow-acting spiritual poison, rotting the core of the Bush presidency. We’ll see if the public decides to acquiesce in sleaze in 2008, and what sort of presidency–what sort of country–that will produce.

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