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.