Time's Joe Klein: That's it! I Can't Pretend Any Longer!


The magazine's world-weary political correspondent announces that Republican health care politics have pushed him off the ledge: He–nay, the Republic–just can't afford to be impartial anymore.

Given the heinous dust that's been raised, it seems likely that end-of-life counseling will be dropped from the health-reform legislation. But that's a small point, compared with the larger issue that has clouded this summer: How can you sustain a democracy if one of the two major political parties has been overrun by nihilists? And another question: How can you maintain the illusion of journalistic impartiality when one of the political parties has jumped the shark? (See pictures of angry health-care protesters.)

I'm not going to try.

So I guess we can no longer expect those hard-hitting analyses of the president?

Other Klein claims, now that he's finally taken off the gloves:

Hyperbole and distortion certainly exist on the left, but they are a minor chord in the Democratic Party. […]

the Republicans are curling themselves into a tight, white, extremist bubble […]

There was McCarthyism in the 1950s, the John Birch Society in the 1960s. But there was a difference in those times: the crazies were a faction — often a powerful faction — of the Republican Party, but they didn't run it. The neofascist Father Coughlin had a huge radio audience in the 1930s, but he didn't have the power to control and silence the elected leaders of the party that Limbaugh — who, if not the party's leader, is certainly the most powerful Republican extant — does now.

Funny, I thought the GOP was run not by a radio broadcaster–who, by the way, has had a long mutual hate society with the Republican who ran for president in 2008–nor by a "tight, white, extremist," but by this black guy? If the party–which, please don't get me wrong, I root against on a daily basis–is indeed in thrall to snarling, hysterical, neofascist analogs, why did the last squirt of electoral success by a white-resentment candidate come 13 years ago, with the four primary states won by Pitchfork Pat Buchanan?

I do not doubt that there is a kind of madness at the hardest core of the GOP (though, I guess unlike Klein, I think the same thing about all political parties), and the Republicans' history of stoking white/majoritarian fear and loathing soured me permanently on the party back during its alleged 1980s heyday. That such a high percentage of Republicans believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States does not, alas, probably indicate a newfound skepticism of executive claims. And yes, the best one could say about the official GOP right now is that it's massively hypocritical, crying about the modern big government era it created, declaiming end-of-life government intervention just a few years after putting all of Capitol Hill in Terry Schiavo's hospital room. 

Still, if, as the growing media narrative contends, the Republicans have devolved into a rump party of half-sane white southerners wracked by racial anxiety, why does it keep rewarding anti-racist anti-populists at the top of its presidential ticket (including, notably, the ticket that ran against a liberal Democrat black candidate), while rejecting every dime-store Tancredo with prejudice? When does this allegedly mainstream Republican pathology begin showing up in the numbers, or in the personages of those who lead the party?