Friday, March 18, 2016


Joe Klein has written a column titled "To Take Out Trump, Hillary Clinton Must First Dispense With Her Inner Politician." I'm not going to critique the column in detail, though I'll give you the short version: Klein is "not at all certain that Clinton can beat Trump," mainly because Trump is, in Klein's words, "free-form and anarchic and silly and devastating," and Hillary is icky and phony and washed up. (Those aren't Klein's exact words, but I assure you I'm not distorting what he wrote in any way.)

As you know if you've read him over the years, Klein is a big fan of "authenticity." Although the word never appears in this column, it's clear that he thinks Hillary Clinton is inauthentic, while other 2016 candidates are less canned, more natural, less in thrall to obsolete political tropes. Klein writes:
Indeed, [Clinton's] real problem is that she’s too much of a politician. She still speaks like politicians did 20 years ago, when her husband was President. This year, the candidates who have seemed the most appealing -- Trump, Sanders, John Kasich -- don’t use the oratorical switchbacks that have been beaten to death since John F. Kennedy: “We need a uniter, not a divider.”
This is hilarious because Kasich, at least, uses that "uniter/divider" line all the time. In fact, last March, when he hadn't announced for president yet, this was the online headline for a Greta Van Susteren interview of Kasich:

Here's the clip. Kasich starts talking about the importance of "uniters" at about 3:25:

Here's a December 1 AP story about a Kasich campaign trip to Tennessee:
Kasich has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump, who has drawn thousands of supporters to campaign rallies in Knoxville, Nashville and Franklin this year.

"This is all about having a uniter and not a divider," Kasich said.
Here's an Ohio story from late December, in which Kasich talks about the qualities a Republican presidential nominee should have:
"I just hoping as we go forward he's going to be a unifier. Because I'm going to tell ya, you can't win the White House without winning Ohio," Kasich Says. "If we have a candidate that comes into Ohio who's a divider, no chance they're going to win it. People in Ohio want someone who's going to look at problems and solve them."
And here's something Kasich said in an interview with an Ohio TV station earlier this week:
We're rising all over the country. People are finally starting to hear me. And people don't want a yeller or a screamer or a divider. They want somebody who has a record and a vision to be able to help fix the problems in this country.
And here's are a couple of Kasich campaign tweets:

Klein is so blinded by his love for political "authenticity," which he and his fellow insider journalists ascribe to John Kasich, that he praises Kasich for avoiding a cliché Kasich actually uses repeatedly. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a gut feeling?


AllieG said...

Not merely theater criticism (authenticity is a good word to use when discussing, say, Brando, for pols not so much) as political commentary, but false and stupid theater criticism. In what other field of work besides Washington punditry do people like Klein, Gergen, Gloria Borger, etc., still have pretty much the same gigs they did in 1982?

Never Ben Better said...

Steve, I read you regularly, and Booman. You two diverge here and there in your analyses but you both make sense and don't shovel bullshit at us. And I miss Molly Ivins terribly.

The wider world of punditry, however... my stars and garters, what a wasteland of babbling inanity it is. Lately I can't even bring myself to follow your links and actually wade into the swill.

Keep on keeping on, man; you help to save what's left of my sanity. said...

One word for Mr. Klein: Iraq.

retiredeng said...

Klein is the epitome of smile in your face - stab you in the back "journalist." I stopped reading his swill years ago.

Lucia said...

I am so bleeping tired of this authenticity BS. HRC is authentic. She's authentically smart, hardworking, and freakishly well prepared for everything because she knows damned well that she doesn't have her husband's star quality (practically no one does, but she still gets blamed for it), and that if she ever appeared in public with a single hair out of place or one tiny rumple in her clothes she'd go from inauthentic to frumpy faster than you can say "double standard."

AllieG said...

The adjectives Klein uses to describe Trump sound like a college freshman describing the young woman with whom he's having his first serious love affair -- in 1969.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

Trump's "Make America Great Again" is so fresh.

Not at all like Reagan's "Lets Make America Great Again"

CWolf said...

Gawd, I haven't read anything about and
I certainly have read anything by Joke Line in years.

I guess he isn't dead yet.

Yastreblyansky said...

@AllieG: "Not merely theater criticism (authenticity is a good word to use when discussing, say, Brando, for pols not so much) as political commentary, but false and stupid theater criticism."

That's such a good insight. If they were good at it, or if Frank Rich would lower himself more often to doing it, it might be worth looking at, but since they don't even have a clue what's good and bad in theater, it's a total waste of time.