Time’s Klein: Last Time Conservatives Were Rational, ‘Norquist Was in Diapers and Limbaugh Was a Disc Jockey’

Time magazine’s Joe Klein can’t get his basic biographic facts straight, but he’s sure the “fiscal cliff” impasse should be blamed on Grover Norquist on Rush Limbaugh for leading a conservative culture “removed from reality” and “extreme in the most egregious way.”

On CBS’s Face the Nation, after Peggy Noonan regretted how President Barack Obama allows “dreadful enervating dramas” while Ronald Reagan was big enough to make deals with Speaker Tip O’Neill, Klein sputtered: “When Ronald Reagan was President, Grover Norquist was in diapers and Rush Limbaugh was a disc jockey, I think, in St. Louis.”

He proceeded to charge, apparently upset by opposition to raising taxes: “You have had the hermetically sealed culture grow up on the right in this country that, as we saw during the last election, is removed from reality and is extreme in the most egregious way.”

In fact, Norquist was in his mid-20s when Reagan took office in 1981. Limbaugh, whose national radio show started during Reagan’s last full year in office, was working in promotions for the Kansas City Royals baseball team when Reagan was elected before moving to Sacramento, not St. Louis, to be a radio talk show host, not a music disc jockey.

Klein’s attack came minutes after Michael Duffy, Klein’s boss as Executive Editor of Time, pointed out how liberal Democrats are just as “intransigent” as conservative Republicans, asserting Democrats have just been more successful at framing the issue to blame Republicans – with the media’s help, though he didn’t make the obvious observation:

We’ve just been through this sort of six-week, eight-week drill on this fiscal cliff. And most of the conversation has been about taxes. And the White House has done an excellent job both by dealing with the House and all the messaging both today and all through weekend about how this is about Republican intransigence on taxes. And we’ve seen that. There is as much gap between the President and his party in Congress on spending cuts as there is between John Boehner and his caucus on taxes. There is great distance in how far that party has to go to come together to do the kind of entitlement cuts that we still need to see at some time, whether it’s this month or this year or next year. There’s a long way to go. They have never been as close as people think on this topic.

....Because it keeps Republicans in what they call a message hole. But on spending, their own party has -- every time the White House suggested a little bit of spending whether it's on, Social Security or Medicare, immediately the Democratic caucus said no.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center