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Klein Explains Views

by RonChusid

Joe Klein has clarified his statement that those in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party “hate America” in a post at Huffington Post. Klein differentiates between those he calls leftists and liberals:

The default position of leftists like, say, Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation, is that America is essentially a malignant, imperialistic force in the world and the use of American military power is almost always wrong. Liberals have a more benign, and correct, view of America’s role in the world and tend to favor the use of military force if it is exercised judiciously, as a last resort, and in a multilateral contect–with U.N. approval or through NATO. The first Gulf War, the overthrow of the Taliban and the Kosovo intervention met these criteria; Bush’s Iraq invasion clearly did not.

This may explain one of his recent statements, but he certainly has far more to explain. If we accept his explanation here (and there are certainly segments of the left which we have had our disagreements with), this shows the problem with labels. I’m not one hundered percent certain even about calling my self liberal considering the various ways in which labels are used. I certainly don’t fit in with modern conservatives, but my stress on individua l l iberties and a free market economy (in contrast to the corporate welfare of the current Republicans) doesn’t totally fit currently popular definitions. Adding leftist and progressive to the mix further confuses the issue.

Often, such as with Klein’s comment here, it is much clearer to discuss the views you support and oppose, and the specific individuals you are referring to, as opposed to unclear blanket characterizations of liberals, leftists, conservatives, or rightists. To some the left might refer to anyone left of center (whatever the center might really be), while to others (such as Klein) it suggests extremists. I realize I sometimes might be unclear on this in some blog posts, but perhaps a professional journalist should be held to a higher standard of clarity.

Update: I figured while writing this that there was little need for me to question whether “leftists” such as those at The Nation hate America. Katrina vanden Heuvel has responded on behalf of The Nation. I think we should limit the accusation of hating America to those who really do so. I might expect those on the far right to make charges of hating America based upon disagreements on issues, but I also think a professional journalist should be held to a higher standard here.

10 Responses to “Klein Explains Views”

  1. Somewhere, can’t source or even say if the following was actually said or is my take… that a way to look at frames and framing was to imagine yourself in room. That frames were actually more like rooms you find yourselves in than picture frames.

    Hey, it made sense to me at the time. 😉

    As far as labels, like a lot of people, I don’t care for them. What passes for a wild-eye liberal in Rural Red is a far cry from what it could mean in Seattle or Boston.

    For example: I doubt my thoughts on the US immigration issues would pass the “liberal” duck test because I don’t see immigration in terms of race, I see immigration (and all its history) from an economic perspective.

    And yet, when it came to the Iraq War, I was actively protesting our going to Iraq from the second it began being mentioned in the news. I watched every hearing and spit bricks at Colin Powell during his speech at the UN. Liberal? Way leftist on that issue. Right next to Noam Chomsky.

    And, just for the record, I have long refused to be defined by anyone. It was enough to be called “anti-American” because I didn’t support bombing Afghanistan, I’ll not let the Joe Klein’s of the world tell me whether or not I’m a leftie, a liberal, progressive or conservative.

  2. It’s just, okay… the thing is, if we’re truly “stronger at our broken places,” then what seems to be broken, ie., our diversity (and I mean by “our” the broad left), then it is our diversity that makes us stronger.

    The less we are able to be boxed into a room, a frame, or a label, by anyone, the more flexibility we have as individuals and as a party to champion issues we care about, as individuals and as a party.

    What I’m saying isn’t news… but our we actually corralling and using that diversity? Or are we still allowing ourselves to be defined by the Joe Kleins or the Maryscott O’Connors or Karl Roves of the world?

    After years and years on-line, I say the nitche we build, the materials we feather our nest with, are MORE important than the WaPo or the HuffPos of the blogosphere.

    Quality breeds quality. Jewels are rare. Reason, on the web, is waaay underrated.

    Just keep doing what we’re doing. Broaden our tent, broaden our ability to hear and see another reasonable point of view and we will build a party of strength that defines all attempts to be labeled.

    Optimist 😉

  3. typo above, “but are we actually” not “our” where’s a proofreader when you need one? *rolls eyes*

  4. KJ

    Good points. There’s a lengthy comment in the previous post that applies here too.

    The reality underlying this is that humans deal with information and ideas by categorizing and classifying them.
    We couldn’t handle it all with out doing that.

    If you remember the ‘paradigm shift’ fad, it addressed this by encouraging people to take pieces of information out of the ususal pigeon holes and put them together in a new one.

    Basically creating that new room you describe as more accurate than a frame. And the analogy works well. If you go to a new room, you are likely to get a different perspective from the ‘windows’ there than the previous one. As my sister just found out, bay windows are even better at improving the view 🙂

    ‘Thinking outside the box’ also addresses this. What I think you and I would like to see in the world is a more consistent use of this type of thinking and reasoning.

    Part of my solution is to stop putting the box on people’s minds. The bottom line for me is that developmental process from age 3 to 5, when a child learns to question. How well and how easily they become with this determines how much of their innate curiousity continues into adulthood.

    Without that curiosity, and the lack of fear in learning new information that will make you rebuild those rooms you are comfortable in, society becomes dangerously stagnant.

  5. Ginny, a bay window, I’m jealous. 🙂

    Curiousity is first-rate trait in an individual, imo. And yes, I do remember the paradigm shift fad and spending time talking and thinking about how (and if it was even possible) to keep newly created forms from hardening or becoming stagnant, as you said above.

    I like to think of perspectives as all of us on different hills, yelling and waving, “Hey, come look at this from *here*!” Each vantage point has advantages, from the close enough to get your feet dirty to the so high up infinity sets in. And of course, everything in between.

    How to keep the flexibility that no one view is the correct one?

    Someone once told me that having perspective was the same as having humility. Sort of liked that analogy. Humility often isn’t a comfortable “room” to be in. It might involve swallowing words, biting tongues or issuing an apology. Even worse is when the light dawns from an individual that I’ve already made up my mind I don’t really like. LOL

    Reclassifying can be the pits. 😉

    Will go check the other thread.

  6. KJ,

    “Someone once told me that having perspective was the same as having humility.”

    Wonderful. You can’t have one without the other.

    I think your analogy of yelling and waving to come see a different view is a good antidote to the idea of being humiliated. This goes back to how we treat people when they question something. (IMO, the worst is in religious settings) From the first phase through out life. BushCo treats all questions as traitorous, stupid, partisan, etc.

    The active military generals got a sharp lesson from Shishenski’s treatment on what kind of professional humiliation they would suffer if they told the truth publicly. (Given that just about all truth conflicts with W’s statements and actions)

    BTW, If you could see the rest of the improvements to ‘house beautiful’, you might also form the question of ‘when does elegance become luxury’? From the perspective that they have been striving for something to last over decades, and have finished the major improvements, I think they are still embracing elegance.

  7. From my seat as an armchair shrink, this comment of yours: “BushCo treats all questions as traitorous, stupid, partisan, etc” really points the finger, for me, right smack at Poppy and Babs. A pattern George has adopted and obviously responds to from others. (Rummy, etc.) The denial that runs through this misAdministration was obvious via a series of articles run in (I think) July of 1999. Chilling. Pretty sure I still have the articles.

    Luxury? Really? Tell more! Marble tubs? Gardens to die for?
    We live in a clutter of books and paper and yet my sensibilities run towards a Japanese or Quaker simplicity. :-\

    Am in the odd mood to cook, shrimp scampi tomorrow and something with roasted red potatoes tonight. Sun is shining and there is a brief rain shower, so a rainbow is somewhere. 🙂

  8. KJ,

    Good arm chair shrinking there. (Maybe that doesn’t make as much sense as Monday morning quarterbacking…)
    Poppy, Babs, Uncle GH Walker Jr. et al. I think his habit of coming up with demeaning nicknames also plays into this. Sort of pre-emptive question blocking.

    If you can find those articles in the clutter (my impossible dream is to organize the clutter so I can find those articles) I’m sure they would be interesting to read and might be useful. Many of us had misgivings about Poppy and W based on their records, or more accurately, lack therof. I try not to get into “I told you so” lectures but some times you would like to say, THIS is why I didn’t trust him. I wasn’t crazy.

    Check your mail for the house descriptions…it is off topic 😉

  9. Ginny, will check mail. 🙂

    Even though completely and totally off-topic, I have to relay this bit of conversation after I cooked my “feast” last night. (I don’t use recipes and sometimes I should.)

    Me: Ugh, this doesn’t taste like I pictured it would.
    Ken: Looking hard at his food, finally responds with, “Are these peas?”


  10. On-topic:

    I liked Joe Klein better when he was “Anonymous” 😉