I caught Time Magazine scribe Joe Klein at a breakfast sponsored by Henshon Parker Vyadro at the Harvard Club this morning. The talk represented a homecoming of sorts for Klein who served as the news editor of The Real Paper, a predecessor to The Boston Phoenix.
Matt Henshon, a lawyer and former Bradley campaign operative, called the breakfast to order. Klein was subsequently introduced by his son Terry, a partner at the firm, who described Klein’s four strengths as a journalist: (“He can write…He can report…Versatility…His ability to reason effectively.”) Klein told the story how the September 11th attacks brought him back into journalism after a semi-retirement.
Klein who, by his description, has spent every recent weekend in Iowa, said both the Democratic and Republican contests are wide-open. To me his most striking observation involved an important credential in a post 9/11 chief executive. He said that other than John McCain, who “knows the most about foreign policy and national defense,” the Republican field was particularly bereft of national security experience. He credited Rudolph Giuliani with studying but added that Governor Huckabee probably didn’t “know the difference between a battalion and a brigade.” On the Democratic side, he said Hillary Clinton had become very knowledgeable on defense matters and received frequent briefings from military experts and generals. Here are some of his other observations:
On Mitt Romney: “I have never seen a candidate run a campaign saying nothing he believed…[He] still stands the best chance of being nominated.”
On the potential of Barack Obama’s election: “A teenager wakes up in Karachi or the West Bank to find the president is Barack Hussein Obama – Wow. That changes everything.” He also praised Obama for telling the NEA “he was in favor of paying good teachers more than mediocre teachers.”
Asked about his daily reading regimen, Klein said he reads The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times as well as magazines such as The Weekly Standard, The New Republic and The Nation. He also cited unnamed “blogs.” The Primary Colors author added that he sets aside an hour-per-day to read books, usually pouring through a history book about the Middle East and a novel at the same time.