While offering his Time blog take on the Sunday show appearances of John McCain, Chuck Hagel, and John Edwards, Joe Klein once again made the claim that he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. Speaking of McCain he said: "I disagreed with him about going to war in 2003..."
But here is Klein on Meet the Press in February 2003: "This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think it--it's--it-it probably is." When Tim Russert presses Klein on why he thinks Iraq is "the right war," Klein responds, "Because sooner or later, this guy has to be taken out. Saddam has -- Saddam Hussein has to be taken out... The message has to be sent because if it isn't sent now, if we don't do this now, it empowers every would-be Saddam out there and every would-be terrorist out there."
Does that sound like someone opposing the war?
Bloggers like Atrios and Ezra Klein have pointed out this contradiction before, but Klein keeps trying to rewrite history -- in the age of Lexis Nexis. So he rails against "the liberal left" and "the leftists" (shades of McCain) and continues to write things like this, from earlier this year, in a critique of "the left wing tendency to assume every U.S. military action abroad is criminal": "The fact that I've been opposed to the Iraq war ever since this 2002 article in Slate just makes it all the more aggravating."
But not half as aggravating as journalists trying to present their revisionism as "fact." (Check out the Slate piece Klein cites as proof of his opposition and let me know if you see a single statement opposing the war that can match the certainty of "Saddam Hussein has to be taken out... The message has to be sent.")
Klein also made this absurd statement about McCain yesterday: "McCain, whether you agree with him or not, has been entirely consistent about the war."
There were many great journalists who had the courage to stand up against the pro-war fever that swept the country in the run-up to the war. They deserve our praise and our gratitude. But Joe Klein is not among them, no matter how hard he insists that he is.