Joe Klein: If only Krauthammer could walk, he'd be a better pundit

I’m taking a risk paraphrasing it like that because I can’t quite believe he meant it the way it reads, especially given his track record of taking histrionic Sullivan-esque offense at far gentler political attacks. Either Politico’s quoting him egregiously out of context or … they must be quoting him out of context, right?

“He became Ground Zero among the neo-cons, but he’s vastly smarter than most of them,” said Time’s Joe Klein, an admirer and critic who praised Krauthammer’s “writing skills and polemical skills” as “so far above almost anybody writing columns today.”

“There’s something tragic about him too,” Klein said, referring to Krauthammer’s confinement to a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident during his first year of medical school. “His work would have a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he’s writing about.”

“My writing speaks for itself,” Krauthammer responded in a curt email.

What could he possibly mean? Because Krauthammer can’t visit Baghdad to tour Camp Victory personally his hawkishness is somehow ill informed? How many leftist bottom-feeders expound authoritatively on foreign policy online every day who have never been within a thousand miles of the Middle East?

He must have meant something else. Or did he? John Podhoretz goes nuclear:

We cannot go back in time and visit the battlefields of the Civil War, or Agincourt, or the Peloponnese—are we therefore incapable of seeing their nuances? FDR was in a wheelchair and did not visit the battlefields of World War II-—were its nuances beyond him as well?

The self-infatuation this quote reveals about Klein’s own celebration of his own passport stamps—the words of a lesser author and thinker about one who so surpasses him in clarity and insight that a wiser Klein would have been better off just admitting that he can’t hold a candle to Krauthammer and let it go at that—is striking enough. But let’s face it. This is simply disgusting, no matter how you slice it. Perhaps men and women in wheelchairs, or who are blind, or deaf, or have other infirmities that make their ability to get on a plane and go to Iraq should simply forbear any sort of opinion about such things. They should, instead, be left to Joe Klein.

If he did mean it the way it sounds, then it looks like a derivative of the chickenhawk smear. He can’t rightly accuse a hawkish pundit who’s handicapped of being too gutless to lace up the boots, so instead he turns it into faux sympathy for how poor Charles can’t help but be blinkered as a prisoner of his condition. Here’s hoping Bret Baier has the stones to bring this up on tonight’s “Special Report” panel and let him respond at length.