Joe Klein Attacks Rush, Cheney, and Republicans; Praises Michael J. Fox and Democrats

Just in time for election season, Time magazine’s Joe Klein went on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country Tuesday to give Americans a heapin’ helpin’ of some fine hypocrisy. Sorry, Jed. In the space of a couple of minutes, Klein bashed Rush Limbaugh with some (isn’t this stuff getting old?) typical drug references, castigated Vice President Dick Cheney for “[legitimizing] a guy like Rush Limbaugh,” praised Michael J. Fox’s ad for Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), and slammed the ad made in Missouri by famous athletes and actors to counter Fox’s (video link to follow). Of course, Klein also had time to praise what some Democrat candidates are doing to woo voters, while chastising Republicans for doing virtually the same thing.

The festivities started with host Joe Scarborough showing Michael J. Fox’s recent campaign ad for Claire McCaskill, then an audio clip of Rush Limbaugh’s response, and finally asking Klein for his opinion – as if the viewers couldn’t predict what Klein would say: “You know, I just can`t get over Rush Limbaugh. Boy -- you know, people who live in glass pillboxes shouldn`t throw spitballs, right? I mean, this is the guy -- the guy least in the country who should be criticizing an ad like this, given his own history of addiction.”

How clever, Joe? Did Bill Maher, another guest of Scarborough’s on Tuesday, write that one for you? But his screed didn’t end there: “And I got to say that, you know, for the vice president of the United States to legitimize a guy like Rush Limbaugh is every bit as bad as all those Democrats who went out to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of the Daily Kos and the left-wing bloggers. I mean, can`t we -- can`t we just stop this crap?”

Talk about going off the meds: is Joe actually comparing left-wing bloggers to the number one political radio talk show host in the country who has written several best-selling books and is considered the voice of a major political party? This line was certainly a heapin’ helpin’ of something a bit more noxious than just hypocrisy.

Yet, Klein wasn’t done: “And you know, Joe, there was a response ad that the Republicans ran that featured a lot of Missouri athletes, like Jeff Suppan, the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher who beat my beloved Mets. And that wasn`t quite as good or as powerful as this because they were talking specifically about the stem cell research referendum in Missouri.” Huh? It wasn’t as powerful because it talked about specifics? Oh, that’s right. People like Klein are opposed to politicians talking about specifics, for whenever they do, the party he reveres looks foolish.

Next, Klein – seemingly following ABC News’s 12-point media strategy to a tee – started bashing Republican candidates and praising Democrats. After Scarborough played a clip from a recent Bob Corker ad (R-Tennessee), Klein stated unashamedly, “But it really descended into real garbage, and you`d hope that it will backfire.” Dontcha love when these guys don’t even bother to appear impartial, and actually state their real hopes for the election? But, Klein had one final volley to seal the deal:

Well, one thing that you`re seeing this year is that in this race and a lot of other races, Democrats are really fighting back. They`ve learned, you know, the lesson of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And there was an earlier instance in this Tennessee race, which is to my mind, the most fun race in the entire country, where Corker accused Ford of favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants, and Ford came back with an ad about how Corker had hired illegal immigrants when he worked in construction. And so, you know, that kind of back and forth I think is just good politics.

Hmmm. So, it was bad for politics when the Republicans created an ad in Missouri to counter Michael J. Fox’s, but it’s good when the Democrats counter a Corker ad in Tennessee? We just want to thank you folks for kindly droppin’ in!

What follows is a full transcript of this segment, and a video link.

SCARBOROUGH: Actor Michael J. Fox is doing all he can to help Democrats who support stem cell research. He recently took his issue directly to Missouri voters. In a TV ad for Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, Fox doesn`t try to hide the effects of Parkinson`s. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOX: As you might know, I care deeply about stem cell research. In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures. Unfortunately, Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research. Sen. Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope. They say all politics is local, but that`s not always the case. What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans, Americans like me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH: Boy, what a powerful ad. And that ad ran during the World Series. It obviously touched off a firestorm with conservatives, with Rush Limbaugh actually suggesting the actor, who recently appeared to be in much better state when he starred on "Boston Legal," had actually stopped taking his medication before taping the ad. This is what Limbaugh said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is Michael J. Fox. He`s got Parkinson`s disease. And in this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking, and it`s purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox betray any of the symptoms of the disease he has. I know he`s got it and he`s raising money for it. But when I`ve seen him in public, I`ve never seen him betray any of the symptoms. But this commercial, he`s -- he`s just all over -- he can barely control himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH: Here again, "Time" magazine columnist Joe Klein. Joe, it`s getting ugly out there. Let`s talk first about the Fox ad, played in St. Louis during the World Series. What a powerful, powerful...

KLEIN: It is a powerful ad.

SCARBOROUGH: ... 30 seconds Talk about it.

KLEIN: You know, I just can`t get over Rush Limbaugh. Boy -- you know, people who live in glass pillboxes shouldn`t throw spitballs, right? I mean, this is the guy -- the guy least in the country who should be criticizing an ad like this, given his own history of addiction.

And I got to say that, you know, for the vice president of the United States to legitimize a guy like Rush Limbaugh is every bit as bad as all those Democrats who went out to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of the Daily Kos and the left-wing bloggers. I mean, can`t we -- can`t we just stop this crap?

SCARBOROUGH: Does it tell you, though, how powerful that Michael J. Fox ad is and how...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: It could actually tip the Missouri race...

KLEIN: I think it could.

SCARBOROUGH: ... which could tip the Senate to the Democrats. I mean, this could be an ad that actually has a historical impact.

KLEIN: And you know, Joe, there was a response ad that the Republicans ran that featured a lot of Missouri athletes, like Jeff Suppan, the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher who beat my beloved Mets. And that wasn`t quite as good or as powerful as this because they were talking specifically about the stem cell research referendum in Missouri.

SCARBOROUGH: Now, that -- the -- this is obviously a Democratic ad that is going to help a Democratic candidate. But I want you to take a look at an ad that the RNC made, Republican National Committee made, attacking a friend of mine, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. And then let`s talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold Ford looks nice. Isn`t that enough?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrorists need their privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I die, Harold Ford`ll let me pay taxes again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ford`s right. I do have a too many guns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the "Playboy" party!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d love to pay higher marriage taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canada can take care of North Korea. They`re not busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn`t?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold, call me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, Joe Klein, I mean, that is such a throwback to the old Southern thing -- Hey, white men, keep your women locked up. Uppity blacks are going be walking down Main Street tonight. That has got to backfire on his opponent, Bob Corker, right?

KLEIN: Well -- well, we`ll see. You know, that -- there was a more effective version of that ad that was used in Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu, and it was a bunch of people on the street like that, saying, Oh, Bibi, he`s so handsome. Oh, Bibi, he`s so good on TV. And the message was, This is a show horse, not a work horse. And that`s where I thought that Republican ad was going at the beginning, that Harold Ford was a show horse. But it really descended into real garbage, and you`d hope that it will backfire.

SCARBOROUGH: It is race-baiting at its absolutely worst. Now, on Friday, Ford`s Republican opponent, Bob Corker, actually denounced the ad as over the top and tacky, which again tells you, does it not, that it probably is backfiring on him. And in a race -- this race, like the Missouri race, is within the margin of error. And we`re not overstating it to say one good ad could elect a senator, one bad ad could actually destroy somebody like Bob Corker`s chances, right?

KLEIN: Yes. Well, one thing that you`re seeing this year is that in this race and a lot of other races, Democrats are really fighting back. They`ve learned, you know, the lesson of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And there was an earlier instance in this Tennessee race, which is to my mind, the most fun race in the entire country, where Corker accused Ford of favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants, and Ford came back with an ad about how Corker had hired illegal immigrants when he worked in construction.

And so, you know, that kind of back and forth I think is just good politics. But this sort of stuff, you`d hope the country had kind of moved beyond it.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you certainly would, and I think they have in Tennessee and across the country, and I do think the Republican National Committee is going to be paying for airing that ad. Hey, Joe Klein, Thank you so much, as always, for being with us.

KLEIN: My pleasure, Joe.

Video Link

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