Joe Klein Plays The Conyers Card

In his new TIME Magazine column, Joe Klein writes that there is an "ugly truth" about Representative John Conyers: He is "an African American of a certain age and ideology, easily stereotyped by Republicans."

As the comedian Dave Barry says, I am not making this up. You can go read that "ugly truth" here.

So what is Joe Klein talking about? Conyers' age is 77 -- his birthday was yesterday -- and his ideology is progressive. But that's not the point.

The point is race, which "became obvious" to Klein while watching Nancy Pelosi answer questions about Conyers on Meet the Press. Conyers will chair the Judiciary Committee if Democrats win the House, and he intends to investigate how the Bush Administration sold the Iraq War and study "grounds for possible impeachment." That congressional oversight could mobilize Republican voters, Klein warns, and then Karl Rove will "play the race card," hinting at "Conyers' race" by showing "his face in negative ads."

If that prediction came true, it would be despicable, right? This civil rights leader, Korean War veteran and second-longest serving member of the U.S. House would face racist attacks from the White House in the year 2006? You might expect this (hypothetical) conduct to face columnist condemnation, but instead Klein turns to bashing Conyers as "foolishly incendiary" and an embarrassment to Democrats. Klein does not provide any evidence for these harsh attacks. In fact, he only mentions two other things that even relate to Conyers: He has "threatened impeachment hearings" and an anonymous U.S. Representative said he is more likely to talk about victimization than younger black politicians. That's it.

For the record, John Conyers is an American hero and a progressive icon. He defends the Constitution, defies Presidents and speaks truth to his own party. He led fights on Iraq, intelligence manipulation, torture, censure and domestic spying when others would not. On many of those issues, public opinion has now shifted in his favor. But Joe Klein can write in TIME that a Member of Congress is a foolish embarrassment, without any germane information to back it up. This baseless attack comes from the journalist who said "I bow to nobody in, in my disdain for bloggers. They're all opinions and very little information." This is also the journalist who chided "frothing bloggers" for a "vitriol" that "seems uninformed, malicious and disproportionate." And this is the journalist who argued that America's progress depends on coalition-building and dialogue in "a public atmosphere of civility, humanity and compromise." That hypocritical advice must be from some outdated lecture, since Klein is now being uncivil, right? No, it's actually from his previous column.

Again, I am not making this up. Joe Klein does that all by himself.