Technology with attitude

Joe Klein


He explains that quote that had us puzzled. He was misquoted, in some essential words, but not in his essential idea.

In his recent account of a breakfast book party at the home of Tina Brown and Harry Evans, Eric Alterman misquoted me slightly but significantly. What I actually said was “the hate America tendency of the [Democratic Party’s] left wing” had made it harder for Democrats to challenge Republicans on foreign policy.

Alterman had me castigating the “liberal wing” of the party, which I was careful not to do. There is a crucial difference between liberals and leftists, especially on foreign policy–even though Republicans (and leftist-wingers) have successfully conflated the two over the past few decades. The default position of leftists like, say, Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation, is that America is essentially a malignant, imperialistic force in the world and the use of American military power is almost always wrong. Liberals have a more benign, and correct, view of America’s role in the world and tend to favor the use of military force if it is exercised judiciously, as a last resort, and in a multilateral contect–with U.N. approval or through NATO. The first Gulf War, the overthrow of the Taliban and the Kosovo intervention met these criteria; Bush’s Iraq invasion clearly did not. That was the point I was trying to make at breakfast.