04/12/2006 02:33 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Believe it This Time, Buster


UPDATE, 4/14: Read my reply to Klein here.

My friend Fred Kaplan can't bring himself
to believe that the Cheney administration is, pick your adjective
(sufficiently crazy, irresponsible, evil, uncaring about human life,
happy to encourage terrorism against the United States, whatever) to
launch a pre-emptive nuclear war against Iran.  He writes:

Or maybe there's no gamesmanship going on here, maybe Hersh [which is hereby the way] is simply reporting on a nuclear war plan that PresidentBush is really, seriously considering, a "juggernaut" that might not bestopped.  If it's as straightforward as that, we're in deepertrouble than most of us have imagined.

Irecall that Fred has publicly acknowledged his inability to judge theawfulness of this administration in deciding whether to support war inIraq.  Isn't it about time we all stopped underestimating thesepeople?  Bush called it "wild speculation."  What was itcalled when anyone speculated that Cheney, much less Bush might bebehind the anti-Plame leak, here?

AndI was talking to a former Assistant Secretary of State for the MiddleEast (under a Republican administration) last night at a cocktail partyand his position on Hersh was, "Who the hell knows with thesepeople?"  It could be a bluff, as it would be with any sensible,remotely responsible administration, but then again, if they want toinspire countless terrorist attacks against the United States and killall these people, a little thing like reality is not going to stopthem.  (I paraphrase.)

This just in: 
I went to a breakfast this morning sponsored by HBO and the Council on
Foreign Relations where Tina Brown interviewed Julia Sweig, author of
Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American
Century, here,
before a small gathering of media and foreign policy bigwigs. 
Sweig, a Latin America specialist, has written a subtle,
historically-informed study about the phenomenon in which she sought to
distinguish between those aspects that are structural and destined to
plague our relations with the rest of the world as long as we are the
world's only superpower--which actually, is not as long as it sounds--and
those aspects which are purely the fault of the incompetence,
malevolence, dishonesty, etc. of the Bush administration.  It was
a useful discussion with many useful tributaries and give and take with
the audience and we all felt better for it.

Thatis right up until the very last moment when, after someone brought upthe question of the whether the Democrats will be able to present aneffective alternative to Bush in the next election, Joe Klein shoutedout, "Well they won't if their message is that they hate America--whichis what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for thepast twenty years."

Excuseme, but I think this is worth some attention.  It's not aboutKlein per se, who after all, is best known to most Americans as the guywho lost his job at both Newsweek and CBS News for purposely misleadingeditors, readers and viewers in order to increase his own personalprofit as the allegedly "anonymous" author of "Primary Colors." 

(He also [classily] attacked the reputation of the linguist who figured
out his identity in New York Magazine.)  What is important,
however, is the fact that Time is America's highest circulation
newsweekly.  And since it fired Margaret Carlson, Joe Klein,
believe it or not, is its most liberal columnist.  That's
right.  The most liberal columnist at the America's largest weekly
newsmagazine pretends that the message of liberals for the past twenty
years has been that they "hate America," just as if he were reading
from talking points issued by Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh or Ann
Coulter.  (Don't get me started.)

Onceagain I am forced to say, "What the hell is going on here?"  Howabout a little noise in the blogosophere politely asking Time to hire agenuinely liberal columnist?  (Newsweek has three Jon Alter,Eleanor Clift and Anna Quindlen.)  My nomination would be JoshMarshall, but that's not important.  What matters is that themagazine has four million readers and sets the agenda for much of themedia, globally.  And it not only won't allow any liberals in thedoor, it continuously slanders them, both in its cover stories and inits columns.  Forty-seven percent of Americans strongly oppose George Bush.  Twenty nine percent sayhe deserves to be impeached.  And yet these many tens of millionsof people are treated with complete contempt by the pundits who areinvited to determine the course of the political discourse.  Whydo we have to take this lying down?  The address for letters tothe editor is  [permalink]

On a related point, Boehlert asks us to Note to Dems: Pundits are not your friends.

I also caught the rest of what's below on the HuffPost this morning.  Happy Holidays everyone.

Stephen Elliott smartly writes:

...Twoyears into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, withmillions of dollars spent on investigating this serious breach ofpublic trust, after reporter Judy Miller spends 80 days in jail, afterGeorge W. Bush promises to reckon with anyone in his administrationresponsible for the leak, we're told George Bush is actuallyresponsible for the leak after all.

So whyhave the investigation? Why this egregious irresponsible use of taxmoney from an administration so adamant about tax cuts? If theinformation was declassified and the president authorized it, what werewe investigating? This administration is so used to not being heldaccountable that it means nothing to them to waste millions of taxpayer dollars investigating a leak that they knew all along was theirown.


To hold an investigation into a coverup knowing all
along where it was coming from and who was responsible. One can only
shake one's head at the boldness, the gall, the absence of principles
or conscience. To stall the truth at the taxpayers expense. To finally
not care about the truth at all as if truth was not an ideal, not a
value, but a nuisance, something that gets in the way of the greater

We're told

in today's New York Times that "still unclear is the nature of the
communication between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney" over the
declassification of pre-war intel.  Unclear?  Please. 
Does anyone really believe that the president, a man who wouldn't
testify in front of the 9/11 Commission without Cheney by his side,
suddenly woke up one morning and thought: "I need to selectively
declassify the paragraphs at the bottom of page 24 of the 2002 NIE so
we can perpetuate the myth that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure'
uranium from Africa. Let me get Cheney on the phone and give him his
marching orders."?

Dayenu, dammit.