Today's CNN poll shows a majority of Americans think stimulus money has been wasted. (Cue blogger barroom brawl.) Time columnist Joe Klein was the first to upend his keyboard, calling Americans "too dumb to thrive," and unleashing an epic rant against respondents who clearly don't grasp the stimulus package. Online conservatives all-too-happily piled on Klein in turn. 


Yelping about elitism, stupidity, and the duties of democratic citizenship, the two parties have all but hurled copies of de Tocqueville at each other. Here are the Atlantic Wire's lightly censored highlights:
  • 'A Nation of Dodos'  Calling Americans "flagrantly ill-informed" and Fox News viewers "misinformed," Klein points out that the stimulus money respondents declare wasted was, in fact, "wasted on them" in the form of tax breaks and state grants ("this is why your child's teacher wasn't laid off"). The Obama administration may have "done a terrible job explaining the stimulus package," he writes, but "it is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens," and it is "impossible to be a citizen if you don't make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government." He concludes by suggesting America's competitive edge in the world is being undermined by its citizens' stupidity.
  • 'Arrogant Ignoramus Joe Klein,' returns Bluto at The Jawa Report, who takes it upon himself to explain the stimulus in terms even "a sheltered ultra-liberal media parasite ... can understand." He calls the stimulus a "zero-sum" endeavor: "If the government, which produces nothing, decides to spend however many tens of billions of dollars on 'shovel-ready' boondoggles and buy-the-vote projects, that money comes from taxpayers, the people who are actually producing things." He concludes with some explicit excremental metaphors directed at the ex-Clintonite columnist.
  • These 'Dodos' Don't Read Your Blog, points out NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd. "At least in Klein's mind, these alleged ignorant boobs are practically an existential threat to democracy itself."
  • 'Joe Klein Pulls a Carter'  The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti is amused: "I would say this is exactly the wrong response liberal Democrats should have to public dispaproval of the Obama agenda." Clifton B at Another Black Conservative agrees: "Thankfully, idiots like Klein keep stoking the fire, keeping us dumb unwashed masses fired up to eradicate these elitists know nothings once and for all."
  • Let Me Clarify: Americans Aren't Stupid, Just Lazy and Uneducated  In what doesn't quite pass for de-escalation, Klein adds in a second post that "I don't think Americans are stupider than other people...though we may be stupider than we used to be." The U.S. has generally hosted intelligent people--notably immigrants--he argues, but in the post-war peace the country has gotten "lazy ... clearly, education reform is absolutely essential ... The gap between the numbers who watch American Idol and those who watch the Lehrer News Hour will always be massive--but the number of people who don't pay any attention to the news at all continues to grow." That's not sustainable in a democracy, he says.