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Joe Klein’s Road Trip: What Americans Really Believe

Joe Klein travels the country to find what Americans are thinking –left, right, and center.

Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein speaks at Sturgis Hall during a stop on his 2011 Election Road Trip. Photo / Jacob Slaton

Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein speaks at Sturgis Hall during a stop on his 2011 Election Road Trip. Photo / Jacob Slaton

From 30,000 feet or the cable TV news, America looks hopelessly divided by political polarization. And everyone knows that in Washington the dynamic of divide is deep and very real. But my guest this hour Joe Klein of Time magazine has been out in the country – driving, traveling, talking – and what he’s found is a lot more readiness to work in the middle than our national debate often suggests.

Americans in small towns and cities who want to cut the political warfare and get to work. Urgently. Joe’s back off the road and with us.

This hour On Point: Joe Klein, beyond the shouting match.

-Tom Ashbrook


Joe Klein, political columnist for Time magazine, and author of six books, most recently, Politics Lost

From Tom’s Reading List

Time: The most important conclusion seems obvious, but it isn’t much appreciated by our political class or by those of us in the media: Most Americans are sane moderates, even in the most conservative areas through which I wandered. They are fascinated by the Tea Party’s success in grabbing the national megaphone, but also very much opposed to Tea Policy–and they are extremely frustrated that their views are not acknowledged by either the politicians or the media.

Joe Klein’s Road Trip Blog: Check out his route, road trip playlists and conclusions about American politics



From Joe Klein’s road trip playlist:

“Bellarosa” by Eliza Gilkyson
“Radio King” by Golden Smog
“Savin’ Up” by Clarence Clemons

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  • Long Time On Point Listener

    Joe Klein wants to know what Americans ‘think’?

    I wonder what most Americans would ‘think’ of Joe Klein if they knew he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (C.F.R.).  The very same C.F.R. that has stated that it wants to see the U.S. Constitution eradicated and replaced with a charter for world goverment.

    • Cory

      Most Americans can’t tell you what the CFR is, what’s in the US constitution, and think the “New World Order” is group of professional wrestlers.

      • Long Time On Point Listener

        That’s because the ‘corporate media’ is filled with CFR members (like Joe Klein) who don’t want Americans to learn the real truth that Americans have lost most of their Constitutional rights, and that the for-profit (privately owned) Federal Reserve has destroyed more than 90% of the value of the dollar since 1913.

        All of which is being done to make a majority of Americans, poor, uneducated, modern-day serfs.

        • notafeminista

          As opposed to collectivism which just makes a majority of poor,uneducated modern-day serfs.

          • Cory

            … in addition to being a drag on the beautiful people in the top 5%.  We ABSOLUTELY cannot have that happen.

          • notafeminista

            I thought it was 1%.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

            The gatekeepers got the students to shout the mantra 99%.

            Don’t listen to the gatekeepers.  Its FIVE PERCENT that are exploiting the rest.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            You keep making that point, but it’s just rhetoric.  Why don’t you focus on a real problem?

          • Ellen Dibble

            Krugman said it’s the top tenth of one percent — way ahead of the next percent, I deduce.

          • Cory

            … in addition to being a drag on the beautiful people in the top 5%.  We ABSOLUTELY cannot have that happen.

    • Long Time On Point Listener

      “We shall have world goverment whether or not you like it, by conquest or consent”.

      James Warburg
      Council on Foreign Relations member

      • Dave in CT

        We can’t handle the truth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      The CFR is an elitist and unelected leadership, masked by a facade of false democracy.  Joe Klein is one of their gatekeepers that assuage the irate masses. 

      It is no surprise that NPR and PBS (socalled intellectual venues) have been continually running ads for Freemason recruitment.

      American democracy is truly a charade that will be further exposed in hard times to come.  Corporations, foundations and cabals run the system.

      Anarchists, socialism and communism abounded in the last depression, only to be defused the creation of another World War which increased internal security.   And now, with media buildups to war on Syria and Iran, and Libya, the same solutions are being used for this economic downturn.

      • Long Time On Point Listener

        Excellent points P.C..

        What scares me is that CFR members such as Tom Friedman and Henry Kissinger in the past have repeatedly praised China’s one-party autocracy (dictatorship) and believe that model would work well in America,

        all so that the elites can work us like slaves in their factories and then harvest our organs, like they do in China. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

          You bring excellent points as well.   Regardless of “democracy or dictatorship”, “capitalism or communism”,  its all about control of the masses by an elite few.   You are either in the club, or you ruthlessly work your way into the club… or you are part of the exploited masses.  Simple as that.

          Most of the modern day right-wing neocons were Straussian decipels, and many were former socialists and even communists.

          • Ellen Dibble

            I’ll have to look up “Straussian disciples,” but plenty of “socialists and even communists,” reacting against the age of grand-scale crime, fraud, and greed (Prohibition, the Jazz Age, Al Capone, the Vanderbilt aristocracy), thought that democracy and fairness could only be established with something like communism — this was before Communism took off its mask and revealed itself under Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung for what it could be.
                These people, post World War II, took those ideals and put them to work for the Eisenhower establishment, it seems to me.
                However, the elites, the “club,” as you put it, seems to me to be pretty much the same as the Communist Party in the USSR; you can hardly help being part of it.  If you aren’t being fed by it, you maybe aren’t being fed at all.  But they like to have foot soldiers in that Party of the top-down Commanders of the Universe.  You can choose your part, and there’s “room for all,” except maybe those jobless, who can take a shake of money or go to jail.  But it reeks of central planning, for sure, by the combination of parties lobbied at.  “Meeting your congressman” means having the “opportunity” to hear their spiel, not much more.

          • Dave in CT

            You got it guys! Keep up the reality check.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see a person of color, to be clear, a person of African, Asian or Latin descent reflected in any of these interviews. “America” is a diverse country of lots of different racial groups, yet only ONE is represented in this clip. 

    Secondly, the U.S. Constitution at one time legalized slavery, rendered African Americans as not even full human beings, for example; did not apply to Native Americans, etc. How does this “America” reconcile that? Where is room for THAT conversation among the Ron Paul and Libertarians? 

    • On Point

      Hi – thanks for commenting – here one of Joe’s dispatches from Texas with the Black Women’s Literary Society

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Perhaps you should listen before commenting, since right now he’s talking about ordinary Americans that he listened to.

      • Blackfeminista

        Thanks Greg… but I know you don’t mean to imply that people of color are not “ordinary Americans…?”

  • Ellen Dibble

    Leaving aside the nature of the Council on Foreign Relations and NPR and PBS “continually running ads for Freemason recruitment” (???), I am interested to hear Klein tackle the mismatch between locally based understandings of our national direction and top-down understandings of the same.
         To me, the idea of “jobs” is the idea that All Good People should be Part of the System, which is to say, part of the largest corporation/foundation possible.  That is the way to control the masses — if you want health insurance, have such a job; ditto vacations, overtime, sick leave, retirement.  This top-down definition of growth fails when the workers can’t work for the same pay that can be paid in Southeast Asia.  The stockholders’ rule.  Capital gains is “venture capital,” and leads to the future.  Ask Mitt Romney.  Nobody starts from a community level and develops the better mousetrap, or the personal computer or what have you.  You have to start under the aegis of IBM.  We all know that.  TONGUE IN CHEEK.  But where are the laws that make it easy for college graduates to set up a hole-in-the-wall business, not in lease-restricted housing but where you can really start something.  WITHOUT the sponsorship of Big Wheels?  We are being told to be corporate pawns.  Job-holders, or live on the edge forever.

    • nj

      Addressing issues like that are beyond Joe’s pay grade.

  • nj

    On Point offers a platform to yet another MSM hack.

    Next week: What Tom Friedman thinks of Joe Klein.


    TheDailyBanter.com: Hack Watch: Joe Klein

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      MSM?  Is it so hard to type?

      • Sam, Buffalo, NY

        Just as it is hard for you, Mr Camp to not nit-pick and be respectful.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          I’m not picking at nits, although we know what they become if they aren’t picked.  Filling up messages with abbreviations and textspeak only makes for more difficult reading.

          • Ellen Dibble

            MSM — Wall Street Week upside down?  Must seem muscular?  

          • Brett

            Okay, Cory, this one from Ellen gets my vote! …And, Ellen…your protein powder and vegetable juice of choice?

  • Anonymous

    Explain to me, please, why Joe Klein is allowed a public forum after he admitted that he is willing to lie to further his career?

    “In February, the “CBS Evening News” asked Joe Klein, a commentator for the network as well as a Newsweek columnist, about a published report that he was the mystery author of “Primary Colors.””It’s not me,” Klein said on camera. “I didn’t do it. This is silly.”
    Klein made similarly flat denials to other reporters, including some of his Newsweek colleagues and a Washington Post editor who challenged him to stake his journalistic credibility on whether he had written the blockbuster novel about the 1992 campaign.
    Klein’s admission yesterday that he is in fact “Anonymous” — hours after The Post fingered him on the basis of a handwriting analysis of manuscript changes — unleashed a flood of criticism, put his CBS job in jeopardy and turned the tables on a high-profile writer known for his caustic judgments about politicians…In an interview, columnist Klein said he had been “very anguished” about lying to news organizations but that “I really felt I had a prior commitment” to the publisher, Random House, to preserve the book’s anonymity.”


  • Dave in CT

    Could Mr. Klein comment on the oft mentioned notion that there is no such thing as a grassroots tea party, that distrusts the collusive power nexus formed by Washington and Wall St., and that is just a Koch Brother’s front.

    Are they that far away from disgruntled progressives? 

    Thank you.

  • Sam, Buffalo, NY

    Uhhmm… “dentists at a country club”?

    That’s not “middle” America.

    Most Americans never even stepped foot into a country club.


  • Sam, Buffalo, NY

    And the reason “THEY” listen to the Tea Party, is because Tea Party = Money.

  • Dave in CT

    Tea Party Congress is enacting “Stop the Spending”, a key aspect, one step, of reigning in the corrupt collusion that government power contributes to Wall St. shenanigans.

    Why is that a surprise to Mr. Klein?

    • Dave in CT

      Why is it a surprise to any of you?

      Are they perfect? No.

      Do they also trend more socially conservative than you or I? Yes.

      Does that mean their effort to take some power away from corrupt Washington by attempting to de-fund them is wrong?

      We’ve got to get over our egotistical, bigoted partisanship if we ever want to form a critical mass large enough to really dent the status quo.

      • 97

        Simply de-funding the government is too vague.  I still believe that government has a role to play in an ordered and prosperous society.  The need for sensible financial  regulation should be clear to everyone by now.  And there’s still a duty to take care of the poor and the elderly that I, as a Christian, can not turn my back on.   The key with any politician is to look where they’re taking the money from and who they’re giving the money to.

        • Dave in CT

          Of course, of course. It’s vague, it’s one step toward a different vision, and of course smaller or limited government does NOT mean NO government, and does not mean following the RULE OF LAW, and only the most fringe person would argue otherwise, despite the smear campaigns here that like to defend the status quo and can’t stand non-Democratic party reforms.

          Demand $ transparency.

          • 97

            Demand $ transparency.

            I’ll agree with you there.

        • Ellen Dibble

          So much of what happens when the federal government gets backed out of something then falls on first the states, and then the community.  If your well is poisoned by an international corporation, your local health department takes that on.  Your local tax base pays for the super lawyers.  Some things are better done using national muscle.  We have to figure out who does what best and most efficiently.

      • http://mergelefttoday.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

        By being socially conservative, they are automatically wrong.

        This is only my opinion, not objective fact.  But when it comes to politics, there is no objective fact.  Only “egotistical, bigoted partisanship.”  One large critical mass or another (and there are two of them, both growing and gaining power) is eventually going to “really dent the status quo,” but whether that dent is convex or concave remains to be seen.

        • Dave in CT

          “By being socially conservative, they are automatically wrong.”

          Feel bad for those in your family with differing political opinions.

          Spoken like a true authoritarian.

          This arrogant attitude, and an inability to “live and let live” and accept no one has a monopoly on “rightness” is becoming our downfall. Left or right.

          Peace before righteousness and coercion:

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    I am ready to get to work. Dispite the fluff and political theater so common today, I believe that certain core ideals can be found and built upon. Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. Creating new jobs and fostering new industries. Building a world-class education system that serves all Americans. Establishing a fair and balanced tax structure. Refining government so that its size fits our needs. A recognition that disagreement and discussion are integral to our democracy and that despite our differences we are all Americans and like it or not are in this together. The time for talk has past. We must walk as a nation united or risk fading away as a nation divided.

  • andy

    I have to agree about being disappointed by Obama – but I still am amazed that people can continue to be convinced to vote against their own interests.  Should the “tea party patriots” take over in DC, it will be a case of “be careful what you wish for – because you just might get it.”

    For example – see Great Britian – “conservatives” take over and the economy flat lines.

  • Scott from Boston

    Two of Joe Klein’s points are that people want politicians to compromise, and people think President Obama lacks leadership.

    Isn’t Obama’s perceived lack of leadership due to fact that he is too willing to compromise with his political rivals? Sounds like people want to have their political cake and eat it too.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Just so.  We want civility and compromise, except on things that we care about.

    • Four Elements

      American public, look in the mirror!

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    The Tea Partier spokespeople I have seen are for the most part rude, poorly educated types who have gotten so much press because they don’t mind yelling loudly at public meetings. They believe might makes right. Here in Kentucky where they actually stepped on a woman’s head after she fell to the ground I am wondering how does a pacifist “fight” back? They won’t listen to reason, they won’t examine facts, they are myopic. We are in trouble.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      How does a pacifist fight back?  Stop being a pacifist.

  • Dar34

    What we need in this country is more than 2 parties. As a centrist with slight conservative leanings, I feel left out of both parties.

    • http://mergelefttoday.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

      Why should a third party be centrist?  We already have a centrist party–the Democrats.  What we need is a genuine leftist party–one that serves the needs of people like me, who’ve never had a voice in this country.

    • http://mergelefttoday.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

      Why should a third party be centrist?  We already have a centrist party–the Democrats.  What we need is a genuine leftist party–one that serves the needs of people like me, who’ve never had a voice in this country.

  • jim

    Hey Joe…  tell the Republicans that if they want austerity… are they willing to reduce everyone’s salary in Congress? Senators and congressmen are too overpaid and we MUST reduce their salaries before we even should talk about austerity. THEY ARE THE PIGS in federal spending.

  • Dave in CT

    Gee, why didn’t Paulson/Geithner/Summers/Rubin/Blankfein/Obama want to break up the banks?

    How can anyone vote for this crap anymore.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Is “the base” the 20% wanting health insurance changes?  Who would that be?  Democrats?  Republicans?
       Is “the base” the campaign funders?  The people who polls show regularly vote for the particular elected official?  I’m trying to imagine a “base” that would push Obama to deal with health care.  That would be a very vocal set of people who were NOT getting heard otherwise, but hardly a “base.”  I think we are true outlyers.  outliers.  Outliars.  Spellcheck has no idea what I’m talking about.

  • Casey Carbonneau

    The whole premise seems like a lark. Sure, people will talk a lot about wanting “civility” or “compromise” – but bring up the right issue, and that all goes out the window. Mention gay marriage, immigration, corporate personhood, top marginal tax rates, abortion… both left and right, civility and compromise will turn to anger and division.

  • Devona Brazier

    the times that Obama has compromised have been the times I’ve been most approving. its congress and their unwillingness to talk civilly that burns me up. I think we need to start a political movement the “flaming moderates.” people who are angry with the stubbornness and lack of common sense.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Klein should know that some start-ups HAVE TO succeed, not with this or that chance of success.  The start-up is the kid, the young graduate, whatever, who has no choice but to make his or her own way in this economy or give up and be this or that kind of peon — which for some works well.  But not all.

  • Moderate

    It’s no secret how the T Party “figured out” how to create a megaphone to the PTB.  They have lots of very rich and powerful backers.  See, The Billionaires Backing the Tea Party in the NYTimes.  It i had the Koch’s and Rupert Murdock bankrolling me and providing me with 24/7 favorable media I’d have a megaphone that could influence policy too.

    • Dave in CT

      OK Soros.

      How long are we going to beat this 2 party dead horse? Lets throw out whole columns of thought, because you can identify a rich supporter of it. Moronic.


      • 97

        I see you lack reading comprehension.  I’ll try once more. The implicit question posed in the interview was “how did the T party figure out how to form a megaphone that Washington would listen to?”  Which I answered.  I did not address any of the ideas or issues of the T party nor suggest that they be “thrown out”  just how such a small minority manages to get such a loud voice.  So stop with the projecting already, OK?

        • Dave in CT

          Apologies if projecting and being snarky.

          But your post implies the same old same old, that since people like the Koch brothers support the Tea Party or libertarian ideas, those ideas are automatically corrupt tools of the evil doers. But when ideas are backed by people like Soros, its ok, because he’s a good rich guy.  That, not you, is moronic thinking, that traps us as an truth-seeking electorate.

        • nj

          The Baggers did more than “create a megaphone.” They got their people elected by grassroots, on-the-ground, precinct activism. Look up Concord Initiative.

          The Occupiers need to do more than camp out and yell. Anything’s possible, but it takes real activism, not just symbolic gatherings.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Get over civility.  Our elections have always been rough.  That’s life.  Get out and fight.

  • Duke

    Please remind Mr. Kline that the cost of health care is the biggest drag on the economy in the US, and has been since before the big Wall Street  crash.
    addressing the health care issue IS addressing the economy .

  • Dave in CT

    You don’t want to yell at the Washington/Banking nexus?!?


    • Dave in CT

      Thank you sir, may I have another?

  • Rnadeau77

    No taxes for manufacturing in the US may be a good idea but only with profit sharing for the employees otherwise you will just perpetuate the class separation.

  • MJ

    This show is about people asking for politicians who compromise and work together, but when Obama tried to that he heavily criticized for not fighting more for his agenda and being a better leader.  We complain no matter what they do!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Brown/1227104716 Tim Brown

    Being a “silent” majority is not a good thing. If people are upset about extremists taking over the national debate they should be out organizing, demonstrating, and getting their message of moderation and compromise out. Lord knows we need it. There is more to democracy than pulling a level once every few years.

  • Dave in CT

    “I’m mad as hell……”

    We like the “right” screaming….

  • litekeep of Sutton, MA

    The problem is the way we pay for elections.  Its all about money and not about votes because money buys votes!!  We really MUST change how we pay for elections, where all elections are paid for by the people through our taxes, so that the the money is divided evenly amongst eligible candidates.  I can’t explain it more deeply here, but the problem is campaign financing…  Its ridiculous!!!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      That’s easy to claim, but please explain how money buys votes, unless the voter accepts the bribe?  I do the work that a voter needs to do, and then I vote.

      • litekeep of Sutton, MA

        Money buys time on the air.  Money buys advertisements.  Money drowns out the opposition when there is enough of it.  And, money creates a sense of momentum.  Its nice that you have the ability and the time to do your homework.  Look at how many people don’t and can’t.  We end up with legislators that pander to the base and not to the voter nor the voter’s needs. 

        I think one thing Mr. Klein misses is that the silent majority is influenced by the base.  And the politicians know this and use it against us. 

        Change the way we finance campaigns and watch how fast the electorate’s voice is heard!

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          I can’t feel too sorry for people who won’t do their homework when it comes to elections.  Democracy isn’t supposed to be easy.  It only works when the participants make themselves worthy.

    • Rnadeau77


    • Dave in CT

      Demand transparency. We can never stop the drip, drip of water/money.  We can demand to see where the water flows and punish harshly those who hide.  We are smart enough to make our choices with the information.

      We will spin wheels eternally trying to fight the speech/money thing, as satisfyingly devilish as it seems.

      I will not vote for a guy making platitudes, while having a direct line to some group/individual I distrust.

      We can handle that.

      With transparency, and a critically thinking electorate, a lot of that money will be wasted.

  • Jameel

    Media is to blame for a lot of this….

    What’s in Sara Palin’s e-mails, what Pelosi thinks about Weiner’s weiner…

    This is the stuff that made head-line news.  Not real issues!

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    Reply to Greg Camp’s “How does a pacifist fight back?  Stop being a pacifist.”

    I write the editor of the local paper, I post on On Point, I cajole my friends and family, and I dream of a better tomorrow.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Then you’re not pacific, and good for you.

  • Kathy

    Like all of these discussions, this one pretends that the current situation has been arrived at by random circumstance and it promotes a false equivalence. The obstruction is coming from one side, the Republicans, and it’s being promoted by wealthy interests who profit by the United States government not functioning.

    • Dave in CT

      When did Barney Frank and Robert Rubin join the Republican party?

      Oh, well the Republicans really control the Democrats, so…..

      Can we think a little broader and stop expecting a Democratic party messiah?

      We all now our situation didn’t arrive randomly.

      It arrived by a corrupt, elite system in which the 2 parties we have handed so much discretionary power to, and the Finance industry, have morphed into practically single entity, robbing us of our chance at a free/fair market, and goading us into more China-like technocratic, well-meaning, trust us, autocratic rule.

  • Rchindle

    I’m thinking that ‘WORK” is obsolete as we now know it.I don’t see the jobs are coming back. How can they? We need to recognize this new reality and think out of the box about dealing with this. 20 hour weeks? 10 year retirement? Get the new people working?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The filibuster in the Senate isn’t a problem.  It’s a brake on the Congress doing too much too quickly.  As Mark Twain pointed out, our liberties are in the greatest danger when Congress is in session.

    • Dave in CT

      But how can the white knight ride to the rescue, if the doors aren’t wide open?!

      What? No white knight?

      Oh, man… this self-governance stuff is…. hard!

    • Anonymous

      The filibuster is the problem.  60 votes required for almost every vote is too much of a brake.  The Constitution mentions when more than a majority is required and those should be the only times. 

  • sailon_52

    I was so glad that someone finally asked about the disconnect between the polls and what is going on in Wash. Or, NOT going on, I should say. The politicians are voting with their biggest contributors and not with the will of the people. Protests will keep growing. They will be made to do the bidding of the people who actually voted and elected them. The majority!

  • Lmark12001

    How tiresome that the ends of the spectrum are considered Tea Party and Occupy Wall street.  The Tea Party folks (and Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers) want to destroy government, OWS wants a fairer system.

    • Dave in CT

      What a lovely, black and white world you live in!  No wonder we can’t get anywhere, half the country is dumb and evil!

      • Dave in CT

        When a limited, Rule of Law Government = Destroy Government to half the electorate (die hard Dems and uninformed Independents), we really are screwed.

        Whether some tiny percentage of nutty right wingers might like to destroy government is really irrelevant, as that is not what anyone is arguing for.

        But its such a fun Straw Man to wrestle with, makes one look so tough!

        • Lmark12001

          limited, Rule of Law = State’s Rights = Miscegenation Laws= Anti-Voter Fraud = scared old white people

          • Dave in CT



            The functional interpretation of the term “rule of law”, consistent with the traditional English meaning, contrasts the “rule of law” with the “rule of man.”[26] According to the functional view, a society in which government officers have a great deal of discretion has a low degree of “rule of law”, whereas a society in which government officers have little discretion has a high degree of “rule of law”.[26] The rule of law is thus somewhat at odds with flexibility, even when flexibility may be preferable.[26]

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    The details of any particular issue are not cause of these arguments. If anything they are but a symptom of the increasing unwillingness to agree to disagree and potentially even compromise on the part of the “base” of both parties and the media in general.

    • Ellen Dibble

      But I think the “base” is the same for both parties.  I keep reading that to protect themselves, anyone with enough money gives to BOTH campaigns, as much as possible.
      In terms of the Tea Party, you could say they are the Koch Brothers writ large. There, money has acquired individuals who can turn out and make corporate “voice” have voices plural.
      I really worry about Occupy Wall Street getting coopted by one of the parties, which to me suggests that lobbyists will coopt them, and if they are the same, left and right — oh, give me an aspirin.

  • snathan

    Message to “middlee america” : Democracy belongs to those who participate and take a stand. So if you have issues you want to address, stop whining and participate. You have more rights and opportunities to do so than most places in this world.

  • Dave in CT

    How do you build the big middle class?

    More crony capitalism ala last 20+ years, more discretionary rule by Men (not Law) in Washington corrupted by Banking, and a good dose of income redistribution to boot?

    Or free markets and a Rule of Law, that demands accountability, doesn’t believe in too big to fail, throws corruptors and colluders in jail, and trusts individual Americans more than a misguided technocratic elite.

  • Erin in Iowa

    Another “third way” answer that doesn’t accomplish anything.  We’ve replaced the word liberal with “moderate” ONLY because the right has shamed the word.  Already “moderate” is becoming a dirty word.  

    • 97

      Should I be offended?

    • Dave in CT

      “Liberals” re-examining classical values of the Liberal tradition (liberty), would be a good start to bringing us all closer together.

      Why so many treat liberty as something they are vehemently divorced from now, instead of realizing it was a core value of the founding of our country, is depressing.

      Asking the rest of America, who seems to value that, to move more toward European Democratic Socialism, seems more of a quixotic quest.

  • Steve

    Joe Klein is very short-sighted, as are others, in seeing the Tea Party as the beginning of extreme rhetoric.

    Hysteria, not necessarily devoid of reason, has been the rule in my lifetime.  I have often warned my friends on both sides of the aisle about their lack of respect for those they politically oppose.

    Short but not inclusive list:

         -Goldwater: “extremism in the defense of liberty….”
         -…”off the pigs”…
         -…gay activists demonstrations in churchs.
         -…abortion and baby killers…
         -…reproductive rights vs. the patriarchic oppression of women

         -…Scot Walker

         -…a great many of the people that chose to respond on this board

    We are all so convinced that we are more intelligent, more progressive and more enlightened than others; how do we maintain our passionate embrace of what we believe in while maintaining respect for the humanity of others?

    I have very definite opinions but I am also willing to recognize that I am part of both the solution and the problem.

  • Sherrie

    I’m from Michigan where we have term limits and it is AWEFUL!!! I’d like to remind your listeners that we have term limits, they are called elections!

    I worked in our house of reps for 5 years. What the general public doesn’t understand is that political operations are very complex. It takes awhile for new legislators to understand how the system works

    In Michigan, our house of reps can be in office for 3 2-year terms. Term 1, they are trying to figure out what they are doing, term 2 they get something done, term 3 they are looking for a new job.

    There is no incentive for legislators to work together because their is a new group of people every election.

    TERM LIMITS ARE AWEFUL!!! (and, YES, I’m yelling!)

    Sherrie Loader
    Lansing, Michigan

    • Dave in CT

      What about the idea that governance shouldn’t be so complicated, and that it only is, because it gives the politicians the complex, shady means curry favor and collude with special interests with us being able to understand?

      Maybe we should actually push for more limited, transparent government that doesn’t take 4 years to understand and act within.

      Maybe less knee-jerk legislating/complicating/loopholing and more enforcement of the rule of law?

    • Dave in CT

      What about the idea that governance shouldn’t be so complicated, and that it only is, because it gives the politicians the complex, shady means curry favor and collude with special interests with us being able to understand?

      Maybe we should actually push for more limited, transparent government that doesn’t take 4 years to understand and act within.

      Maybe less knee-jerk legislating/complicating/loopholing and more enforcement of the rule of law?

  • Shagata_Ganai

    Joe says Americans are “interesting”.  Given the current state of deadlock, which these interesting Americans are allowing their politicians to continue, I am reminded of the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”…

  • Rhodes

    As Moynihan said “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.”


  • luquitia

    For people who want more facts in politics, they should sign this (white house page) petition to Promote Accuracy and Accountability:  http://wh.gov/2fW

    • Ellen Dibble

      That site isn’t letting me sign it.  I created a new account, and now it says I may sign out or create another account, but no way to sign in (any further), and no way to sign the petition.  I’ll try later.

  • Potter

    Leadership is not about compromising what you believe because of polls talk radio and money interests. (Everything usually goes back to the campaign finance issue doesn’t it?) It may be better not to compromise at all if it will do more harm ultimately. People want good leadership from a president and the Congress they elect. That is about actually leading and teaching along the way while taking the criticism and bearing controversy. Thus health care reform was not unrelated to the economic issue contrary to how it is characterized. It was very much a part of dealing with the economy.

    Half a loaf solutions ( health care, stimulus)  are certainly not always the best solution as Klein says.

    “Middle of the road Americans” need to know better what they are for and against beyond merely civility and compromise. Middle of the road Americans are maybe the problem.

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    The sun is revolving around the earth! It’s just on a galactic or universal scale so large it is hard for most of us to fathom or measure.

    And God created evolution! Settles it for everyone. if you ask me.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Not for me.

  • Henry

    If the shouting receives the politicians attention, then isn’t it the responsibility of the media to speak for the silent.

  • BHA in Vermont

    As always, the ‘little guy’ is in the majority but does not control anything. As such, we don’t throw a fit because no one will listen anyway. I hope the Occupy Wall Street movement gets the rich and powerful to take notice that people are fed up with being screwed by their feeling of entitlement.

    But my glasses would have to be REALLY rose colored to think that will happen. No CEO is EVER going to say – Hey, I don’t really work 2000 times as hard, 2000 times as many hours, do not provide 2000 times the value of the people who produce the things the company I head make money. Same with the people on the boards of big companies. The people who come up with derivatives to make money aren’t going to look at the actual value of the CONTENTS of the product, it is all about MAKING MONEY in the short term by selling ANYTHING that someone will buy and it doesn’t really matter what happens to the ‘little guy’ or what happens in the long run.

    We can vote for which ever candidate we like, even write one in, but the fact is, the person who gets voted in will be one of the two people who had the most backing by people/corporations with MONEY and political power. And people who are beholden to the money that bought their seat aren’t going to suddenly get “support the MAJORITY of the people” religion if they didn’t have it when they were running for office.

    • Dave in CT

      Sounds like Taxation without Representation 2.0.

    • Four Elements

      If this is how Vermonters think, I’m moving there. (Actually, I am.)

  • Markus

    I wonder how much of this is because of the consumerization of the news – the idea that blogs, tweets, videos and other social media have more people publishing ideas, while the 24 hour news cycle along with social media have created the appetite. I know this sounds elitist, but there appears to be a lot more people at the low end of the bell curve getting an audience.  So, people who 20 years ago would have been holding a sign in a park railing against moving off the gold standard or the military industrial complex, now have a very loud voice.
    I don’t think we’ve gotten dumber or less civil, but that more people who are dumb and uncivil are heard from. 

  • Tadmor

    Of course, most are, as I am, for compromise,  for good values, kindness, responsibility and moderation. Yet most also see themselves as moderate, their views as at, or near that desired compromise, and the opposing side views, as extreme, uncompromising,… 

    I would have liked to believe Mr. Klein’s thesis. I am afraid he got the answer he looked for. I have a sad proof – its given in elections, time and again. Clear views, uncomplicated,  with fewer shades of gray and complexity, are invariably better heard. And those who fully identify with such truth tend to vote in larger numbers, in primaries. If all the self declared moderates wanted to punish extremists in general elections, they would have done so. In reality, the wider public may cover their nostrils, but still tend to vote their side of the ideological divide, propagating its depth and breadth.

    Finally, the solution to the impact of money is removing money from the equation. With that much money, our representatives ought to be inhuman, not to listen to the larger donor individuals or bodies. But they are, as us, human. And we, the voters, have no taste to removing donations from the equation, disenfranchising most of us, certainly the weakest and most vulnerable, voiceless.

  • Modavations

    Joe Klein is a Democrat Rump Swab.He has never written a complimentary piece about the right.Every word and phrase he uses,is consciously skewed left.Even his music is bull.You wouldn’t hear that in Mexico!!!

    • northeast17

      Sounds like you need to get out of the fair and balanced house’s Murdoch and Clear Channel. Your language and attitude point straight back to where you’ve obviously come. You guys are so weak.

      • Modavations

        They sold Newsweek to Tina Brown for $1.00.She vastly overpaid.Jay Carney of Time Magazine ,jumprd ship, because Time is about to be sold for .50cents.Vastly overpriced

    • Jeffe68

      You nasty little man. You need to get a life.

  • John Kennedy

    This may be unfair because I haven’t yet heard the full story, but “country club dentists”, a “black ladies’s book club” (including one lawyer)!

    How many people were unemployed?  

    How many people worked in the service industry or for minimum wage, or for our nation’s largest employer, Walmart, for example?  People scrambling, trying to get by?

    Seems to me that this represents are very thin slice of the American public, a group of people who have the luxury of being available to talk with you.  

  • Anonymous

    I’m a “conservative” living in a blue town.

    I really don’t think that there is anyone who is “true blue” or “true red”.  Anyone who is is probably crazy. 

    Because of where I live I have a lot of liberal friends, but on a lot of issues we are on exactly the same page.   Gay marriage?  I’m for it!  Reform — not repeal of “No Child Left Behind”, they’re for it!

    I do think the media blows our differences out of proportion.

  • Eb3design

    Vote out EVERYONE appointed before 2008. Vote for ANYONE
    you want as long as their did not take money from Wall Street… Not a Bank,
    not a Broker, not a Found.


    This should have happened 3-years ago. Want to send a


    Banks destroyed YOUR HomeTown, destroyed YOUR Nation and
    destroyed YOUR World… By THEIR Lobbying, By THEIR Products, By THEIR Greed
    and By THEIR Response to OUR Crisis THEIR built and WE used.


    They should be on THEIR knees begging OUR forgiveness,
    NOT securing THEIR profits after the Biggest Bail Out in History, THEIR most
    profitable years in History. THEIR most disgraceful actions in History.


    Demand Responsibility, Accountability, Governability and
    hopefully Recoverability.



     - YOUR Media

     - YOUR Banks

     - YOUR Brokers

     - YOUR Politicians

    • Anonymous

      How do you vote someone out who was appointed?  Not everyone needs to be voted out.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Klein criticizes Obama for addressing health care instead of the economy.   Health care is the biggest economic problem.  It is decimating  government, business  and personal budgets.

    • Jeffe68

      Good point, except that Obama gave away the store on health care.

      • Anonymous

        He couldn’t get single payer because Democrats took their ball and stayed home during the midterm elections when they couldn’t make all the rules. Insurance companies have made highest profits ever for past 3 years and fund the tea party. They add no value. Some provider pay hasn’t increased in 30 years.

        • Jeffe68

          Not true. He left them all out to dry. He did not lift one finger to get that bill passed and he gave away the shop to big pharma and the insurance lobby way before the 2010 elections. Obama did nothing, nada, and he had a huge chance. He would have been better off doing nothing and working on getting something done on a decent jobs bill. Oh wait, he was busy bailing out Wall Street and the banks.
          He’s one of the corporate Democrats and his cabinet and financial advisers were and are a clear sign of that fact.

          • Tim E

            If you watch Frontline’s documentary about it, called “Obama’s Deal” (http://video.pbs.org/video/1468710007), it becomes clear that a couple of key Democrat committee members were either paid off by the medical insurance industry (to the tune of over $2 million) or obstructed the effort because of internal Democratic feuds.  The fact that the Republicans were monolithically opposed didn’t help.  But the time Obama’s ideas got sifted through the Congressional prostitution grind, the bill had much less power to do good than intended by Obama.  Until we put a stop to Congress getting bought   off by its highest donors, nothing will change.

          • Anonymous

            May have to agree with you on the last point. Just finished and recommend Reckless Endangerment.

  • Long Time On Point Listener

    Tom’s Reading List:  Time Magazine??

    The same Time Magazine that has advocated an end to the U.S. Constitution.

    The same Time Magazine that awarded Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Henry Kissinger, Ayatollah Khomeini and Ben Bernanke with their coveted ‘Man Of The Year Award.

    If Time Magazine is honoring those criminals with an award, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone when Time Magazine is calling the U.S. Constitution archaic and needing to be replaced.

    • Heaviest Cat

       HI Long Time. I think ,Tom is playing NPR’s sellout the public game ,sadly enough.

  • Sully

    what an excellent show. The whole thing (ie. The silent majority, people look for common sense, active & involved citizenry) could be applied to virtually every country in the world…. especially those in the developed western world at the moment.

  • annie

    i guess i am part of the silent majority.  the only people that have been heard until recently are the super right wing Tea Party, who don’t understand that they get government services that cost money, too.  give me the occupy wall street movement.  what is wrong with our country if the rich keep getting richer?  I read a quote in my newspaper yesterday from a rich guy saying that we shouldnt’ tax the rich more because they would stop creating jobs.  really? what rich person is creating jobs? They are only getting richer

  • annie

    Gerret van S. Copeland doesn’t think we should tax the wealthy at a higher rate.  Why would he?  He is a duPont heir.  I am sure he is busy investing his money to help create jobs.  (sarcasm)

  • http://mergelefttoday.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

     I don’t understand “centrism.”  What exactly does the average centrist want?  I’m looking for an honest answer here.

    • Heaviest Cat

      I doubt ,you’ll get one from JOe Klein, Joshua.And Tom didn’t seem to interested in any really critical questions.

    • Tim E

      It depends on the issue, but for me it often comes down to wanting both sides to give up their sacred cows and strike a reasonable compromise.  For example, I would like conservatives to allow embryonic abortion in exchange for saving late-term fetuses; and I would like liberals to give up the all-or-nothing approach and abandon the “it’s the woman’s body” rhetoric for fetuses that are in the third trimester, in exchange for a liberal embryonic abortion policy.  It seems crazy to me for liberals to be willing to sacrifice late-term fetuses to their fears that conservatives won’t stop at third-trimester prohibitions, and it seems equally crazy that conservatives aren’t willing to compromise on embryos in order to save fetuses that are generally viable outside the womb.  The intractable stand-off between conservatives and liberals on this point reminds me too much of radical religious factions on opposite sides of Middle East peace process or, in days gone by, of the Protestant~Catholic conflict in Ireland.  Radicalism accepts no reasonable compromise because of its own radicalism or for fear that giving an inch will result in losing a mile.

      That’s just one example, on one issue.

  • Craig Williams

    What about of the loss of the fairness doctrine? Hasn’t this caused political speech on the radio and TV to become more partisan with a lack of balance while influencing the public to be more divided with biased and often inaccurate information. Also their perception of the views of the other side are often greatly exaggerated.

  • Heaviest Cat

    I think JOe KLein’s call for “centrism” is disingenuous rhetoric in service to the corporate multi-nationals whom he seeks to protect from critical scrutiny. Does he really think that anyone who puts a mega-phone to their mouth at a rally is really an “extremist”? Isn’t the right to peaceful assembly embedded in the Constitution? Then again TIME is not exactly grass-roots media.

  • Dee

    The Trouble with Joe Kline–he is such a yes man himself with….

    There he is week after week at Time Magazine with all the stats on how Americans feel on the issues at his finger tips and he never calls out the bluffers on the GOP side who claim to represents “The Ameri-
    can peoples”

    One would think if he knew the polls show in the 80% percentile
    Americans wanted COMPROMISE he would CALL OUT BLUFFERS like
    John Boehner and his extremists and that other rubber stamp of
    Bush era policies Mitch Mc Connell (who should be in jail) for mis-
    appropriating US tax payers to the super rich and organizations
    who didn’t need it…

    Indeed, one would think he would be pointing out week after week
    how both men helped to drive the American economy into a ditch
    by supporting deregulations of the markets and reckless spending
    for a misled war on the war on Iraq and an extension of that war
    into Afghanistan.

    Yet instead he suggest how Governor Christy’s cost cutting and
    Mitch Daniels cost cutting would help America… (What a yes man
    he is himself proposing such an agenda. He is unconscionable in
    my book. )

    When I think of how the Governor Christy is such a political hack
    for the GOP… refusing to build a connector over the Hudson that would help people in his state get into NYC faster…Now,compare
    this with JFK suggesting we land a man on the moon in the 1960′s and we see how limited a thinker and visionary Christy really is..

    I also read in the NYT compliants against him for refusing to institute
    EPA standards that would help stop industrial abuse and pollution of New Jersey’ air and waterways–and indeed add to Global Warming…


  • Dee


    I am on the verge of not renewing my weekly Time subscription if
    Joe Kline doesn’t clean up his own act and be a voice for ordinary
    Americans–instead of being a Yes Man for the GOP and the land
    thieves in Israel– who have made the Palestinian peoples’ lives a
    living hell on earth.. Dee

  • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

    When Joe Klein visited the Midwest did he notice the competitive nature of the citizens?

    The Negro League

    What if there were no Kansas City Monarchs or any other team for Satchel
    Paige to play for? His talent would have been lost to history.

    Reading Paul Krugman’s op-ed in today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch, I envied
    Satchel Paige’s opportunity to hone his skill as arguable one of the
    best pitchers in baseball history. No Krugman’s article had nothing to
    do with baseball, Krugman argument supported the efforts of the Occupy
    Wall Street movement.

    While some bicker over baseball or football being America’s sport, there
    is no doubt in my mind this countries number one competition is
    argument. Argument on topics of politics, science, and religion occupies
    the minds of the citizens more than any other sport.

    The citizens of the United States are competitors in the sport of
    argument absent a team. We can only wish for a Negro League to practice
    and develop a skill.

    The players of democracy have no stadium, no equipment, no team, no
    schedule, and no statistics. They are bystanders who pay to watch the
    performance of individuals chosen through nepotism, cronyism, and elitism.

    Alone it is difficult to share a catch, practice a swing, take infield,
    or snag a few balls in the outfield.  America requires a league to
    develop the Satchel Paige of argument.

    Lacking players, a team, a stadium, a league, and the absence of rules, democracy lacks the competition to exist.

    Go Redbirds
    And best of luck for next years Khoury leaguers.

  • Michael345

    It’s interesting to hear what people are saying but the analysis was pretty lame. Klein seems to accept the definition of left/right as dictated by the media and by the Republican Party. I believe that Republicans have managed to define which issues are liberal or conservative and political identity among voters has become so distorted by the issues of the culture war (which are issues for the court system to hash out, not Congress) that voters don’t even see where their best interests lie. I’m not cheer-leading for the Democrats, the last 30 years has pushed Democratic politicians solidly to the right of center.

    The center should be defined where people actually stand on issues; SS & Medicare, affordable health care, cutting military spending, accountability on Wall St, etc etc. The center is progressive as defined by Republicans if broken down to individual issues but Washington ignores the center and caters to corporate interests. OWS is not an extremist movement, it’s an expression of frustration with the dysfunction of our political and economic systems.

  • Michael345

    ..one more point. Klein accepting Republican propaganda that 80% oppose health care reform is inexcusable. A solid majority wants the government to do something to make health care affordable. The system is broken. Public opinion is against ‘Obamacare’ because the left believes it’s too conservative, a corporate giveaway. This is not proof that the majority favors doing nothing as Republicans would like us to believe.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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