"Rational Discourse With an Ironic Wink"
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Jan. 31 2002 2:37 PM




Ahhh, Winston. You remember my son, Theodore? His middle name is ... Winston! (My wife, a rabid Anglophile, wanted to reverse the order—I gave the standard, "You can't send a boy out onto the playground with a name like that" rejoinder and won, for once). But anyway, given my love of those two antique warbirds, why am I leaning toward dovery now? Well, I'm not, exactly. I'm leaning toward prudence. I'm leaning against the promulgation of overheated rhetoric that may not be backed by actions. Once again, both Iran and Iraq are building those weapons mostly to deter each other and Israel. They're not targeting us, unless you count Israel as us—which is a long and difficult conversation. And you are quite right: It is far better for Bush to be hectoring us on important stuff like this than socially dreadful pandering to senior citizens and a host of other non-issues. But correct hectoring would be nice.

What's the evidence, by the way, that Saddam isn't rational? We know he's not even vaguely moral, but it seems to me he's played his hand very carefully, if not always correctly. He didn't expect us to catch him on Kuwait or the wacky Bush 41 assassination attempt (or maybe he did expect the latter and predicted Clinton's lame pin-prick response). I'm all for getting rid of him, but I hope we'll take him out subtly, without tipping our hand and without braggadocio.

If only this foreign policy debate could be confined to the likes of you and me, I'm sure we'd find our natural, exhilarating common ground, coming from opposite directions. We are so wonderful, the two of us ... a model for what Washington should be about: rational discourse with an ironic wink. We are so fabulous, really. So darn grand. Well, on second thought, I don't know about me ... you're pretty good, though.

A pleasure,

Joe Klein is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton.


The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.