Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Saturday, October 21, 2017

To do so would endanger the whole centrist enterprise enabling Washington wise men like Woodward and Keller to masquerade as non-partisan and above the battle.

Which brings us back to Ezra Klein, boy pundit.

When last we encountered the 28 year-old Washington Post blogger, he’d done the unthinkable: phoned David Brooks and informed him that his column lampooning the Obama White House for proposing no plan was bollocks. He directed Brooks to the White House website, where a detailed deficit reduction proposal based upon spending cuts, entitlement reforms and revenue increases has been posted for months.

Also unthinkable, and much to his credit, Brooks admitted the error in the lede of his next column. Evidently, he’d been taken in by Speaker John Boehner, who’s been doing TV interviews for weeks now urging Obama and the Democrats to get off their collective asses.

So was it really possible, Klein wondered, that Republicans didn’t actually know about President Obama’s offer? He got himself invited to a GOP background briefing “with one of the most respected Republicans in Congress.” As a policy wonk, Klein was astonished to learn that Republicans in attendance had no idea that the Obama administration had put “chained CPI,” for example, on the table.

That’s a way of restraining the growth in Social Security payments by reconfiguring inflation. Most liberals bitterly oppose it.

Indeed, Klein found that on a whole range of issues, “top Republicans simply don’t know the compromises the White House is willing to make on Medicare and Social Security.”

So it’s all a big misunderstanding? Or was Klein simply being naïve?

The latter, chided friendly rival Jonathan Chait at New York magazine. “If Obama could get hold of Klein’s mystery legislator and inform him of his budget offer,” he predicted, “it almost certainly wouldn’t make a difference. He would come up with something—the cuts aren’t real, or the taxes are awful, or they can’t trust Obama to carry them out, or something.”

That’s precisely what happened. Klein posted a series of Twitter posts from influential GOP consultant Mike Murphy, downgrading “chained CPI” from an essential reform to a meaningless “gimmick” within hours of learning that the White House proposed it.

It’s all quite funny, from a cynical perspective, but perfectly illustrative of today’s GOP.

Meanwhile, Klein and Chait’s brand of irreverent, fact-driven journalism is a refreshing change in the clubby world of Washington political reporting.

Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The National Memo