Attacks on Democrats and “liberals” a common thread among Time columnists

Time magazine's Joe Klein reportedly declared at an April 11 event that Democrats will not succeed in upcoming elections “if their message is that they hate America -- which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past twenty years.” Klein's comments, however, represent not only the continuation of a pattern in his own writing, but in the writing of Time's stable of opinion writers -- including Charles Krauthammer and Andrew Sullivan -- who regularly attack “liberals” and Democrats.

As reported by media critic Eric Alterman, Time magazine columnist and senior writer Joe Klein declared at an April 11 event that Democrats will not succeed in upcoming elections “if their message is that they hate America -- which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past twenty years.” Klein's reported comments, however, represent not only the continuation of a pattern in his own writing, but in the writing of Time's stable of opinion writers -- including syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and blogger Andrew Sullivan -- who regularly attack “liberals” and Democrats.

In his column for the February 6 edition of The Nation, Alterman commented that Klein's columns are marked by his “animus toward liberals coupled with his cavalier treatment of inconvenient facts.” Indeed, Klein has not been shy about attacking Democrats and “liberals.” The following examples were drawn from Klein's Time columns from just the past six months:

  • “The Republican Party has been a vehement bastion of economic freethinking for the past 25 years. This has been an extremely successful political strategy, and it rests on a basic truth: capitalism is the best way to create prosperity. But the strategy frays when taken to its extreme: the more untrammeled the capitalism, the greater the inequities. And with [President] George W. Bush as freedom's ultimate exemplar, the G.O.P. has refused to acknowledge the new playing field -- the severe dislocations and vexing security questions -- created by a freewheeling global economy. But the Bush view has taken a serious hit in the Dubai Ports controversy. The Republicans have shattered over foreign ownership of American assets. They seem as confused as Democrats normally do.” [3/13/06]
  • “Speaking of judicial nominees, Senator Barack Obama [D-IL] deserves notice for his criticism of Democratic advocacy groups that opposed the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court in their usual vituperative fashion -- even though Obama himself opposed the nomination. ”Whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose," he wrote to the puerile liberal Daily Kos blog. Thanks, Senator, for taking a stand in the service of civility." [12/26/05]
  • "[Sen. Jack] Reed [D-RI] pointed out that the President, despite his talk of limited success in the reconstruction of the cities of Najaf and Mosul, “didn't tell the American people how we're going to replicate that success in other parts of Iraq ... how many more teams of Americans, both military and civilian, need to go into these communities [and] what it will cost us.” Most important was Reed's tone -- quiet, humble, dispassionate, substantive.

    "Such sobriety seems beyond the reach of most Democrats. They make fools of themselves even when they speak the truth. The party chairman, Howard Dean, was not inaccurate when he said, “The idea that we are going to win this war ... is just plain wrong.” If Dean had added the word militarily, most generals would agree with him. The trouble is, Dean -- as always -- seemed downright gleeful about the bad news. He seemed to be rooting for defeat." [12/16/05]

  • “Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois had a nice moment on Meet the Press about a month ago. He said Democrats would run on their ”ideas" in the 2006 congressional elections. “But what are the Democratic ideas?” moderator Tim Russert asked skeptically. Emanuel proceeded to rattle off five big ones, which seemed to shock Congressman Tom Reynolds of New York, his Republican debate opponent. “Those are the first solutions that have come out of [any Democrat's] mouth,” Reynolds said.
  • “No doubt ”solutions" was a slip--but the notion that “Democratic ideas” might not be an oxymoron represented one small step forward for the perpetually benighted Donkey party.


    "There are problems. These are Democrats, after all." [11/21/05]

Nevertheless, Alterman lamented, Klein “is, amazingly, the most liberal commentator currently employed by America's highest-circulation newsweekly.” Indeed, Klein's colleagues on Time's opinion pages have joined him in repeatedly attacking Democrats and “liberals” -- both in the magazine and in other media.

Charles Krauthammer

  • “Congress is up in arms. The Democrats, in particular, are in full cry, gleeful to at last get to the right of George Bush on an issue of national security.

    Gleeful, and shamelessly hypocritical. If a citizen of the UAE [United Arab Emirates] walked into an airport in full burnoose and flowing robes, speaking only Arabic, Democrats would be deeply offended, and might even sue, if the security people were to give him any more scrutiny than they would to my sweet 84-year-old mother.

    “Democrats loudly denounce any thought of racial profiling. But when that same Arab, attired in business suit and MBA, and with a good record of running ports in 15 countries, buys P&O [Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.], Democrats howl at the very idea of allowing Arabs to run our ports. (Republicans are howling, too, but they don't grandstand on the issue of racial profiling.)

    On this, the Democrats are rank hypocrites. But even hypocrites can be right." [Washington Post, 2/24/06]

  • “This may all seem arcane, but it requires slogging through arcana to see just how dishonest, disreputable and disgraceful is the charge, trumpeted by just about every liberal interest group, that Alito is so extreme and insensitive to women's needs that he supports spousal notification for abortion.” [Post, 11/4/05]
  • "The Democrats have never seen a government expenditure to which they would not add a zero at the end. Obviously, a trillion is not quite enough here. But I will tell you where they will come from. It will come from our children and their children. It will all be borrowed." [Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, 9/16/05]
  • “And dare you have any ”deeply held views" -- a transparent euphemism for religiously grounded views -- especially regarding abortion, watch out for [Sen. Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] and other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. They might well declare you disqualified for the bench.


    “Why this panic about certainty and people who display it? It is not just, as conventional wisdom has it, that liberals think the last election was lost because of a bloc of benighted Evangelicals. It is because we are almost four years from 9/11 and four years of moral certainty, and firm belief is about all that secular liberalism can tolerate.” [Time, 6/6/05]

  • “Well, it tells us that the great agreement, the Missouri Compromise of Monday, was a phony. The Democrats have no ideas on these issues, and what they are is obstructionist.


    ”Obviously not. The Democrats have nothing to offer on Social Security. They have nothing to offer on the war in Iraq. They have nothing to offer on the idea of how to manage ourselves in the UN [United Nations]. They are obstructionist. And anybody who imagined otherwise has now been reminded of the truth." [Special Report, 5/26/05]

  • “Look, I am against the deal ... because the Democrats have trashed two centuries of tradition. They ought to walk away, reserve the right to, perhaps, to do it in the future. But they're the ones who broke the tradition, and they're now parading as defenders of traditionalists, the ultimate hypocrisy.” [Special Report, 5/10/05]

Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan writes columns for Time and his weblog, The Daily Dish, is hosted on

  • On the “spread of democracy” in Iraq: “The realist conservatives, traditional conservatives are deeply skeptical about all of this, and many liberals found themselves, I think, for partisan reasons sort of almost wanting this to fail. I mean, the good noble ones resisted that, but still, it was a sentiment. We have a president that's pursuing a policy in the Middle East that liberals dreamed about only recently and it's a Republican doing it.” [CNBC's The Tim Russert Show, 3/19/05]
  • On Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean: “He's a deeply unpleasant character.” [The Chris Matthews Show, 6/12/05]
  • “It's a legitimate position, but it essentially means that, whatever the Democrats say, they can never get the benefit of the doubt in this war. I think that's blinkered. 9/11 changed a lot. It didn't change the far left, who saw it as another reason to hate America.” [ weblog post, 7/29/04]
  • On Harvard University: “Because he's [former Harvard president Larry Summers] in a Stalinist, PC, left-wing university. And -- and they don't want the truth, and they want to shut the truth down.” [The Chris Matthews Show, 2/20/05]