Smugfest: NYT Editor Tanenhaus, Joe Klein Tag-Team to Condescendingly Rip Jonah Goldberg's Book

Not content with letting partisan liberal journalist Joe Klein review "radical Republican" Jonah Goldberg's new book The Tyranny of Clichés, the May 18 edition of the paper's Book Review podcast opened with book editor Sam Tanenahus talking with Klein about his hostile review.  Tanenhaus (pictured), author of a little screed called The Death of Conservatism that was discredited within months of its 2009 publication by the rise of the Tea Party, spent the first 14 minutes of the podcast slamming Goldberg's book along with Klein.

This exchange occurred about 40 minutes from the end of the podcast:

Tanenhaus: "Now Joe, just so our listeners get out [unclear] of this idea liberalism is really statism, is one that conservatives have been making for a very long time. Go back to the origins of National Review and the mid-50s they were saying this. Then it kind of fell away and now it's back again. How did this happen?"

Klein: "It's back again at the weirdest time, because liberals stopped being statists a long time ago. there was a time when liberals were in favor of things like socialized medicine and so forth. Now most of Barack Obama's ideas originated in the Republican Party, things like the individual mandate, universal health care version. Cap and trade. These are all Republican ideas. The liberals nowadays would rather bail out auto companies than own auto companies. Nobody believes in socialism and pure socialism anymore."

Thirty-seven minutes from the end Klein ludicrously identifies himself as a moderate: "Well the thing that, the thing that, as a flaming moderate, the thing that I find most obnoxious about this, is the relentless defense of ideology and of ideologues as just people who have a world view."

Some of Klein's "flaming moderation" includes smearing Tea Party supporters as racist. MRC's Scott Whitlock caught Klein earlier this month discussing a Tea Party rally in Arkansas: "And there are Mexican Americans all over the place and their grandchildren are marrying out of their race or becoming gay. The President of the United States doesn't have the good sense to be either black or white and his middle name is Hussein." Klein's Time Magazine cover story of May 4, 2009 reviewing Obama's first 100 days as president, was so effusive about his "stupendous" and "spectacular" achievements that it won the "Master of His Domain Award for Obama Puffery" category for MRC's The Best Notable Quotables that year.

Back to the podcast, in which Klein accuses Goldberg of lying nonsense:

Tanenhaus: "Now, when he contrasts conservatives and liberals, which every now and again he does, he'll say, well it's true conservatives may engage in some of the same style of debate. His argument is that conservatives are more honest about their ideology because at least they come out and admit it. What do you think of that point?"

Klein: "That's also pulling the wool over our eyes, because what he actually says, is that all these conservative arguments are about a single simple thing: Freedom. Conservatives are for freedom. Liberals are for the state. That is nonsense. It's just not true."

Tanenhaus: "Does he ever really define freedom in this book?"

Klein: "No, and he has nothing to say about policy."


Tanenhaus: "You know, another thing that's interesting about it, Joe, is to read a book like The Tyranny of Cliches, to read a writer like Jonah Goldberg, and some others, you would think, 'Liberals continue to dominate American politics.' And we look back over the last 30 years and it's, if anything, it's the Republican Party and conservative arguments, as you say, Barack Obama has borrowed many of them, that seem to be dictating the debate. Why this opposite belief coming from the right? What are they seeing? Who is this book really written for or at or about?"

Klein: "The right in this country, especially with the growth of right-orienetd media, like Fox News or the Drudge Report, it has become a hermetically sealed feedback loop. When you write a book with the title Liberal Fascism, or you know, The Tyranny of Cliches -- How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, you are thinking about a certain market...."

Klein patted himself on the back for going out to the country, talking to real people, and not finding ideologues (he didn't mention the Tea Party in Arkansas). He and Tanenhaus got along so well that near the end Klein invited Tanenhaus to join him on his tour of battleground states this summer. The segment concluded with Klein ripping Goldberg's "radical Republican" worldview:

Sam Tanenhaus: "Joe, is there anything a liberal can learn from Jonah Goldberg's book?"

Klein: "Goldberg's book is an insight into the conservative -- I won't say conservative, no -- into the radical Republican state of mind now. True conservatism, as you know and as you've written, is far more moderate. Goldberg is playing word games. He has nothing to say about real political issues, real political policy as it's practiced in this country right now. And so Democrats can learn about the little bit and liberals can learn a little bit about the threadbare nature of an opponent that sometimes seems overwhelming when rhese views are in the mouth of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or whomever."

Tanenhaus: "Thanks so much Joe."

Klein: "My pleasure Sam."