ATRIOS (5/10/06): Oh, did I forget to tell you that Joe Klein is that biggest wanker in the history of wankerdom and that he is always wrong about everything?As weve noted, Kleins new book is definingly laughablea near-perfect product of millionaire pundit culture. But is Klein always wrong about everything? Obviously no, he is not (a few parts of his book are even important). And it cant be good for progressive values when we teach young liberals to reason this wayto engage in the type of pseudo-angry pseudo-reasoning which is now widely found on the web.
KLEIN (page 18): Equally important for the long-term interests of his party, the  Nixon campaign intended to move the Republicans down-market from their Wall Street/Main Street business base into more fertile demographic fields, making a coded racial appeal to working-class whites, especially in the South...Nixon began the tectonic shift of the South from fervently Democratic to fervently Republican (apparently, Southerners dont do tepid)a landmark political transformation caused, at bottom, by the Democratic Partys honorable decision to support the civil rights legislation that desegregated the region. The Democrats have been swimming upstream ever since...Its hard to see how Klein is wrong there. (Indeed, his remark about swimming upstream deserves much fuller analysis.) Later, he returns to this theme:
KLEIN (page 91): [The Democrats] came by their dilemma honorably. They opposed racial segregation. They chose to support the civil rights movement. A great many Republicans, especially conservatives, did nota historic moral disgrace the party has yet to overcome.Ouch. According to Klein, the GOP committed an historic moral disgrace in the Nixon years. To Atrios, this is all wrong.
KLEIN (page 83): Reagan never asked anything of the American people. The habits of citizenshipthe service, sacrifice, and discipline that had characterized his own Greatest generationwere allowed to fade under the narcotic haze of the Great Affluence. Worse, civic irresponsibility was encouraged. Reagans belated embrace of supply-side tax cutsjust in time for the 1980 election season!made a mockery of his own stated belief in fiscal conservatism. He had intellectual arguments for all these positions...But those arguments were short-sighted and insidious, and the Reagan style of leadership would contribute mightily to the trivialization of American politics.All so wrong, just as before.
KLEIN (page 149): [T]he tactical decisions that flowed from the New Hampshire loss were scurrilous. What followed, in South Carolina, was one of the most disgraceful campaigns I have ever witnessed. Bush and his minions did a clandestine demolition job on John McCain.As he continues, Klein directly blames Bush (and Karl Rove, by name) for the widespread rumors about McCains mental stability; for the widespread claims that McCains wife was a drug addict; and for the widespread claims that McCain was the father of a race-mixed child. But then, according to Klein (page 150), Bush is heinously adept at sequestering his behavior in political campaigns from the rest of his life. For Candidate Bush, there was only one rule: whatever it takes to win. This leads to Kleins account of the history-changing Bush-Gore debatesthe history-altering sessions which eventually sent the U.S. into Iraq:
KLEIN (page 157): The three Bush-Gore debates were singularly dispiriting affairs...[Bush] was prohibitively simplistic, demagogic, and quite often wrong on the facts. When he famously accused Gore of fuzzy math, he was wrong: Gore numbers were absolutely correct. But Bush paid no price for his inaccuracy and he proceeded to be creatively wrong on a series of issues...Soon, every time Gore made an effective argument Bush dismissed it as mumbo-jumbo from the nations capital.Bush was demagogiccreatively wrong. Where does Klein get these odd notions?
Here are the numbers for the four Big Pols whom Atrios cites, plus for Bush and Cheney. Note: McCain has a 31 percent favorable ratingbut his favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is more than two-to-one positive. Thats vastly better than the ratios of his three better-known Dem rivals:
Ratings of Big Major Pols in current CBS/NYT poll:Numbers can change over time, of course. Meanwhile, heres a note on that savvy electorate: Even in the case of Bush (hes currently president), 13 percent say theyre undecided. Three percent havent heard enough.
John McCain: 31 percent favorable, 15 percent unfavorable
Hillary Clinton: 34 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable
Al Gore: 28 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable
John Kerry: 26 percent favorable, 38 percent unfavorable
George W. Bush: 29 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable
Dick Cheney: 20 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable