The RNC got caught paying for bondage club field trips, LL Cool J and Sarah Palin are at war, and now someone has managed to displease the robotically sunny Ezra Klein. Yes, it’s been that kind of a week in the media world.
Klein, a human political encyclopedia most useful to liberal cable news pundits as a wall of obscure Congressional facts to bounce ideology off of, has managed to live in the blogosphere for several years without expressing any outrage (except for that one time, and that was a joke). So getting the subdued Klein to tweet “this might be the worst op-ed I’ve ever read” is the kind of achievement someone should send Wall Street Journal columnist Shelby Steele a trophy for.
What could have Steele possibly said to stroke the ire mild disapproval of the happiest writer in the history of Newsweek? Surprisingly, nothing overwhelmingly interesting or scandalous. Writing in his piece this morning that President Obama’s insistence on health care reform over jobs was indicative of a preference for “historical” achievements rather than practical ones. It’s not a perfect column by any means; arguing that “Mr. Obama’s success has always been ephemeral because it was based on an illusion: that if we Americans could transcend race enough to elect a black president, we could transcend all manner of human banalities and be on our way to human perfectibility” is particularly ridiculous. But excepting the large generalizations that ignore the fact the Obama administration has a definitive large government, semi-socialist vision for America, there are some valid points to be debated. Yes, the jobs issue is much less glamorous than health care reform, and arguably much more important. The American people have said that time and again. But now the President is a superlative because of health care reform, which was highly unlikely if he had tackled unemployment instead.
“Sort of wrong, but there’s something to it” is probably the way most readers wearily responded to that column. Klein not only called it the worst op-ed he’s ever read, he questioned Steele’s entire career path:
“I have trouble imagining how someone can be interested enough in American politics to want to write an op-ed on the subject, but so unaware — or uninterested — in even basic facts about policy that this is the op-ed they’d write.”
Well, some of us also have trouble imagining how someone can be interested enough in American politics to have an entire blog dedicated to it in a major newspaper without expressing any anger whatsoever. But snark aside, it is nice to see a wonk like Klein rankled at all, gentle as his reproach may be. Now that pundits know mediocre, semi-racist attacks on the President are the way to stoke his rage, let’s hope we’ve only seen the beginning of Klein’s transformative corruption into the next Keith Olbermann.
[only photo of Klein not looking rapturously overjoyed on the internet via Charlie Rose]
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