In a May 2 washingtonpost.com chat, Time magazine senior writer and columnist Joe Klein denied he had ever said that "the left hates America." But in an April 14 entry on the Huffington Post weblog, Klein stated that the "left wing" of the Democratic Party has a "hate America tendency."
In a May 2 washingtonpost.com online chat, Time magazine senior writer and columnist Joe Klein denied he had ever said that "the left hates America," in response to a chat participant who denounced what the participant described as Klein's " 'the Left hates America' rhetoric." But -- contrary to Klein's denial -- as Media Matters for America noted, in an April 14 entry on the Huffington Post weblog, Klein stated that the "left wing" of the Democratic Party has a "hate America tendency."
During the May 2 chat, Klein responded to a reader who stated that "[a]nybody that engages in this 'the Left hates America' rhetoric are [sic] among the greatest threats to civil discourse." Klein claimed that he "never said that the left hates America," but rather that "the Left sometimes indulges in 'hate America' rhetoric, especially when it comes to foreign policy." He added that "some on the left have the knee-jerk assumption that America is always wrong when it uses force," while "others on the left seem to assume that America is a malignant force in the world." He concluded: "I have no time for those who assume our country is somehow evil."
But beyond accusing the left of "hate America rhetoric," Klein stated -- in his April 14 Huffington Post entry, in which he defended remarks he reportedly made at an April 11 breakfast attended by him and media critic Eric Alterman:
What I actually said was "the hate America tendency of the [Democratic Party's] left wing" had made it harder for Democrats to challenge Republicans on foreign policy.
Based on his May 2 chat comments, Klein appears to be drawing a distinction between saying that the left hates America -- which he denies having said -- and saying that the Democratic "left wing" has a "hate America tendency," which he wrote on April 14. His argument seems to be the following: He didn't say that the left hates America; he said that the left tends to hate America. If there is a distinction between the two statements, Klein has yet to explain it. Nor has Klein explained the difference between claiming that "the left hates America" -- which, again, he denies having said -- and the statement Alterman reported that Klein made on April 11, that "for the past twenty years," the message of the left wing of the Democratic Party has been "that they hate America." And Klein has yet to explain the difference between saying the left "hates America" and his May 2 online comment that the left views America as "malignant" and "evil."
As Media Matters also noted, in his Huffington Post item, Klein defended his April 11 breakfast remarks by claiming that Alterman mistook his criticism of leftist Democrats as criticism of liberal Democrats. In fact, as Alterman noted in response, and as Media Matters documented, Klein regularly attacks "liberals" and Democrats in general, making no distinction between "liberals" and "leftists." In at least one instance, he characterized Democrats as "a party with absolutely no redeeming social value."
From the May 2 washingtonpost.com online chat:
Tucson, Ariz: Joe, With all due respect, I think you are one of the last people to be talking about the state of American politics. Anybody that engages in this "the Left hates America" rhetoric are among the greatest threats to civil discourse.
When will people realize this is pure rubbish?
I am liberal and I bleed the red, white and blue. I love my country. It is not unpatriotic to point out flaws in your government's policies in hopes of fixing them. It is my patriotism that drives me to these lengths. I believe in America.
However, over the last few years, America has seriously lost its way. We blundered a golden opportunity after 9/11. Since then, political discourse in America has devolved into legitimizing torture by DEFENDING it.
Instead of granting legitimacy to an illegitmate characterization of the Left, why aren't we talking about real issues?
War profiteering and waste in Iraq, domestic spying (which is illegal in my opinion), a president that is shoring up power of all three branches in his hands, secret prisons...
Joe Klein: I never said that the left hates America. I said the Left sometimes indulges in "hate America" rhetoric, especially when it comes to foreign policy. I've said that some on the left have the knee-jerk assumption that America is always wrong when it uses force--and that others on the left seem to assume that America is a malignant force in the world. I respect your patriotism and your right to criticize the government -- I do it myself just about every week in my column. But I have no time for those who assume our country is somehow evil.