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Ezra Klein vs. One of the Horsemen of the Stupidoclypse

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Mickey Kaus's Journamalism Department)

It's really too bad that Ezra Klein has to deal with Mickey Kaus's crap. Somebody as generous, public-spirited, and intelligent as Ezra would, in a better world, not be spending time fishing Kaus's turds out with a rake in the hope of cleansing the polluted river of liberal discussion.

Fortunately, Ezra doesn't have to spend much time, or energy:

Ezra Klein: Kaus's Bloggingheads... wasn't nearly as enraging as I'd expected: Kaus is too petulant to be genuinely offensive.... [M]y judgment that "neoliberals did much to correct the Democratic Party's image, but not much to update its policies"... overstated that case somewhat, but not by much. Kaus, however, is a breathing, walking, balding example of my unadulterated argument.

His criticisms of me... [are] that I'm on "the far left"... [and] that I'm young. Now, unless your spectrum runs from Al From to Sam Brownback, it's six types of absurd to place me on the "far left."... Mickey's latest post at Slate is anchored by a gushing encomium to my friend Jon Cohn... [who] is... farther left on health policy than I am....

[F]or Kaus, the question is style points. Jon Cohn and I both focus on social policy, both believe approximately the same things, and both are working towards much the same outcome. But I'm the "far-left." Why? Style. I'm young, I'm partisan, I'm pro-union, I'm insufficiently impressed with Mickey's years in the trenches of neoliberalism.... That's what's so fundamentally unimpressive about writers like Kaus. Their ideology is underpinned by a grudge... aesthetic, characterological, and above all, personal. They hate unions and so they worry about productivity costs, loathe Jesse Jackson and so can't think seriously think about racial justice....

The substance is immaterial. Neoliberalism was, for [Kaus]... an attitude first and an ideology second. In recent years, Kaus has become an embarrassingly public exhibition of that prioritization scheme.

Kaus has always been remarkable: A self-proclaimed Democrat who can't figure out in October 2000 that there is even a dime's worth of difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush? A self-proclaimed neoliberal who claims not to know whether Bush's reversal of the real Clinton neoliberals' balancing the budget is "good or bad for the country," and claims that it is immaterial that the Bushies' policies, like" the Bush tax cut [are] based on lies... it's not enough to criticize a policy to say that it's based on lies"? A man who fared worse in his self-declared war against Paul Krugman than the Black Knight fared against King Arthur--Kaus, after all, cut off all four of his own limbs, while King Arthur had to cut the Black Knight's limbs off?

Truly Ezra does us all a good service in dealing with this guy, one of the Four Horsemen of the Stupidoclypse unleashed upon the world by Marty Peretz and Michael Kinsley in that dreadful laboratory "accident." But it's a shame it has to be done at all.