Time's Joe Klein Compares Walker Recall to Clinton Impeachment

Time magazine's Joe Klein on Wednesday compared Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment proceeding in the late '90s.

Not surprisingly, appearing on CNN's Starting Point, Klein got most of the facts wrong (video follows with transcript and commentary):


Host Soledad O’Brien asked her guest if Republican Governor Scott Walker’s victory would have an impact beyond Wisconsin.

“No,” Klein replied, “the exit polls yesterday said that Obama led Romney 51 to 45 in Wisconsin.”

They also said when the polls closed the recall race was a 50-50 dead heat.

It’s amazing how many media members seem to be ignoring that if the exit polls were wrong about that, they likely were wrong about how Wisconsinites currently view the presidential race.

Beyond which, it’s preposterous to claim last night’s results have no national implications. As Klein himself said moments later, this was a devastating loss for Democrats and unions.

“I think that what this election says is this: people don’t like gimmicks,” Klein continued. “Scott Walker was elected two years ago. He tried to govern according to the way he saw fit. He did nothing illegal, and the public employees’ were used to getting their way, didn’t like it, and they tried to unseat him.”

Next came a really silly analogy.

“It’s kind of like when the Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.”

Actually, the Republicans didn’t try to impeach Clinton. He was indeed impeached, but survived the process.

Fascinating that someone in the business so long who prides himself in how many elections he’s covered wouldn’t understand what impeachment means.

“The public saw it as just a tremendous waste of time and money,” Klein continued. “And Bill Clinton’s popularity remained, you know, what it was from the beginning of that process till the end of the process, but the Republicans’ popularity plummeted.”

First off, this analogy is absurd because Clinton broke the law. He committed and suborned perjury, both serious enough that the very day he left the White House in January 2001, the Arkansas Bar Association disbarred him. By contrast, as Klein previously said, Walker “did nothing illegal.”

As such, comparing the two issues is a joke.

What Klein also neglected is the reason Clinton’s popularity stayed steady during impeachment and the Republicans’ declined was because media members like him took Clinton’s side while dishonestly telling the public impeachment was about sex when in reality it was indeed about perjury and suborning perjury.

But Klein wasn’t done, for after largely speaking Democrat talking points, he spoke some truth that undermined his claim Tuesday’s result had no national implications.

“I think that the unions and the Democrats got their comeuppance for interfering in the national process of electoral politics.”

Indeed they did, and this will have national implications in November as well as likely years to come.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.