Is there a doctor within shouting distance of 30 Rockefeller Center? Joe Klein, a guest on this morning’s edition of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is suffering from massive historical hallucinations.In fact, just make that general hallucinations.Among the litany of reality-bending ideas he presented were:
- The overheated rhetoric during the Bush years was much less disturbing than the overheated rhetoric now
- That the Democrat Party immediately spoke out en masse against the infamous MoveOn.org advertisement which called General David Petraeus “General Betray-Us”
- That the current health care bill will not lead to rationing of care
- That moving doctors to a salary-based system rather than a pay-for-procedure system would cause an improvement in said health-care system
- That all conservative arguments against the currently proposed health-care plan are, in a word, fantasy
- And last but not least, the obligatory assertion that Republicans are generally racists.
No, I am not exaggerating in the slightest. The transcript for this is quite long, so I apologize in advance for the epic length of this post. Liberal bilge, however, requires the proper plumbing.Klein’s original commentary occurred in his latest column, which diagnosed a “public malignancy” in the current atmosphere of debate (h/t Marc Sheppard):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You talk about the malignancy, let's talk about the Bush years. I know a lot of people, not you, but a lot of people hate when I bring this up. During the heart of the Bush years, one poll showed that 1 in 3 Americans believed that George W. Bush had something to do with September 11th. 34% of Americans believed George Bush had something to do with buildings being blown up. You yourself saw the anger and the rage from the left when you just told the truth about how the surge is working in Anbar province. You were torn to shreds – for what? For telling the truth. If there is a malignancy, it has been growing for about a quarter century now, hasn’t it?KLEIN: Yeah, I think it's part of the fabric of the new media environment. But there is a difference. When, say, Moveon.org, did that, that disgraceful ad about General Petraeus – General Betray-us, remember that? The strong voices, the leadership of the Democratic party disavowed that and said it was disgraceful and disgusting, which it was. When Rush Limbaugh sets, and Glenn Beck sets the agenda for the Republican party, nobody –
Once more into the breach, then. Klein is indicating here that conservatives (specifically, Republican conservatives) don’t speak out against the perceived wingnuts in the movement. We’ll get back to that later, but in the meantime:
SCARBOROUGH: Wait a minute Joe, I am sorry. Joe, can I stop you? I have somebody talking in my ear and I just want to make sure I get this right. Did you say the Democratic spoke out against the Moveon.org ad, or they went along with it?KLEIN: No, they spoke out – SCARBOROUGH: No they didn't. KLEIN: Sure they did, Joe.SCARBOROUGH: No they didn’t! You had Rahm Emanuel accusing Petraeus of being a liar. Hillary Clinton sat back in silence. They didn’t step out and distance themselves from that ad for weeks!KLEIN: They voted in the Congress – Take a look at the vote.SCARBOROUGH: They were frozen in place for weeks, Joe. I am not upset with you. Let's not though, re-write history. Go back and look at what Rahm Emanuel himself said about General Petraeus.KLEIN: I think that if you go back and look at it, Joe, you will find that there were a great many Democrats, and maybe not all, but a great many of them who stood up and said that was a bad thing to do. I know I certainly did, as a columnist.
Scarborough, to his credit, makes a good point. If one burrowed down to the actual policy statement behind the infamous “Betray-Us” ad, it was about how General Petraeus was being accused of lying to the Congress. Klein, while outing himself as a media Democrat, claims that Democrats leaped to Petraeus’s defense. That is simply not the case. Later in the segment, Morning Joe Executive Producer Chris Licht provided the evidence:
BRZEZINSKI: I want to go back to the issue of Petraeus Betray-us. What we were talking about earlier. Chris, you have a follow-up to that, from the control room?CHRIS LICHT, (Morning Joe Producer): This is from New York Post, September 13th, 2007. The reports that you provide to us really require – SCARBOROUGH: Who’s this talking?LICHT: I’m sorry, Senator Clinton.SCARBOROUGH: Hillary Clinton, who was then a Senator – so she was, this was when she was speaking to General Petraeus in the committee.LICHT: “The reports you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.” She went on to say that he was a de facto spokesperson for a failed policy, and pointedly refused to criticize the ad which called him an outright liar who would betray his nation.SCARBOROUGH: And do you have a Rahm quote? Rahm Emanuel?LICHT: Yes. “We don’t need a report that wins the Nobel prize for creative statistics, or the Pulitzer for fiction.”SCARBOROUGH: And where did Rahm say that? LICHT: Let me check.SCARBOROUGH: It was a leading question, he said it on the House floor. Where Joe Wilson called the President a liar.LICHT: September 7th on the floorSCARBOROUGH: Sounds like Petraeus, a general, is being called a liar there.
Oh, the false outrage at a President being called a liar – in the same place where Petraeus, leader in the winning of the unwinnable war, was also called a liar for advocating a policy which – you guessed it – succeeded beyond even the Republicans’ expectations.Moving on, so to speak, to a different liberal fallacy, Klein actually claims that the currently proposed system will not lead to rationing:
KLEIN: But the thing is, on the Republican side, this year we have had a history of people criticizing Rush Limbaugh, and then Rush Limbaugh comes backs and slams them and then they backtrack. I think that you don't have – and even what we saw just earlier, with Governor Pawlenty. The stuff that he's threatening, this rationing – it's nonsense! What we have now is a system where doctors are – we have the exact opposite of that system. We have a system where doctors are rewarded for performing test after test after test after test on people. What we need – the reform that we need in this bill that is not in there is to pay doctors by salaries so that they give the elderly the treatment they need, but not all these tests that they don't need.
So, despite every other nationalized health care system in the world devolving into a rationed system, the new American system will not. Not to mention the idea that he is pushing the idea that in moving doctors’ pay methods from a performance-based system to a salary-based system – hey, it works wonders for FEMA, right? – would cause an improvement in the health care system’s performance. Next, Klein excuses the leftist loons of the Bush era, and calls conservative arguments against the current health care bill “fantasy:”
KLEIN: I know that. But the quality of the commentary on both Clinton and on Obama is far more personal and far different. With George Bush you had a president who took us to war under false pretenses, who abandoned international rule of law - SCARBOROUGH: Okay. Now it sounds like you are justifying hate speeches on the left.KLEIN: No, I am not. Listen, I am the one who criticized - I am the one that brought up the Betray-us ad and said that was over the line. But the fact is - you had a Republican party 20 years ago when George H.W. Bush was president that really was an intellectually supple, creative organization. That has fallen away, and now you have the party that is dominated by these kinds of scurrilous - this kind of scurrilous nonsense. Democrats may be wrong and the left may go over the line. But if they have a bias, it's towards policy, it's toward undue idealism.SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my god, Joe - Joe - a gallon of Kool-Aid for Joe Klein! Come on, Joe! They were not worried about policy back when Bush was President, when they were calling him Hitler and saying he was a Nazi and saying he wanted to shred the Constitution!KLEIN: But the arguments against Bush and Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy and so on were based on substance. The argument on this health-care plan is all fantasy.
That requires very little in the way of explanation. Last, but certainly not least, is the indication that Republicans are all racists:
KLEIN: But the fact is that those kind of heinous arguments I think are a minor chord in the Democratic party, and they have been in the Republican party, but they are far more of a major chord. And I think that a lot of this, especially out in poor middle class white American is based in racial fears.
Thirty-four percent of Americans, at one point, believed that George W. Bush was directly responsible for the horrifying act of terrorism that occurred eight years ago this morning. That does not sound like a minor chord to most thinking individuals. And in the midst of a rant on how low-brow the public debate has become, how productive is it to demonize people with whom you disagree as racists, while offering zero evidence for that idea?Of course, hallucinations are stubborn things.