Dead center

As much I hate all the bullshit about “centrism”, I realize that is has political value, so this is a real conundrum:

But to just regular folks out there—particularly the 35-45% of Americans identifying themselves as “moderates”—there’s some value in the brand, implying as it does a certain degree of reasonableness and perhaps even unpredictability. And as it happens, self-identified “moderates” are a much larger segment of the coalition that votes for Ds than the one that votes for Rs. Given that reality, does it make more sense for progressives to deny that people like David Brooks (much less Paul Ryan!) are “centrist” in any meaningful sense of the term, or instead to make the term itself so toxic that it’s ceded to crypto-conservatives because anyone to their left has stopped using it? That’s probably an easy question to answer for those who think an insufficiently loud-and-proud progressive message has kept Democrats from energizing their party base or awakening a “hidden” populist majority that sees no difference between “centrist” Democrats and conservative Republicans.

For those of us not so convinced that maximum polarization is an unambiguously good thing, or who believe that for all the many shortcomings associated with them, ideological “brands” do have some political value, then it’s not that great an idea to call both Barack Obama and David Brooks “centrists” in the same column, while trying to deny that one is at all like the other. In other words, it’s not helpful to be a mushy moderate in one’s definition of “centrism.” By all rights, the brand should belong to the Donkey Party right now—it it wants it—because it has been so decisively abandoned by the party of Paul Ryan. It’s better to police membership in the centrist camp than to burn it down.

I hate it when people call themselves “centrists” and wank about liking ideas from both parties, but, voters like that shit, and Kilgore is probably right that the trick here is not to allow people like Bobo to pretend that they’re “centrist” when they’re really far right.

87 replies
  1. 1
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Bobo is a Republican hack, whatever the party does, he will find a justification for. He has no principles.

  2. 2
    Some Guy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Republican hack

    I find that statement very redundant.

  3. 3
    RossInDetroit says:

    When one party is in vigorous motion while hiding its true position, centrism cannot be usefully defined for most voters. They can’t know where the center is because one of the edges is far out of sight.

  4. 4
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    but, voters like that shit,

    __
    Not “voters”, but a specific subset of the electorate. The subset that views politics as a necessary evil and just wants the yelling, screaming and hair-pulling to stop so dad can watch the game in peace. This means that the question whether this particular subset actually matters or not is very important. Are they a swing group, or not? If yes, then does catering to their desires in order to win elections have the effect of nullifying the outcome by neutering the legislative process, or not?
    __
    It seems to me that these are open questions, although I give a guarded “yes” and “somewhat, but there isn’t much to be done about it as it has always been thus” as answers to questions 1 and 2 respectively. It also seems to me that these answers vary locally from district to district rather than being amenable to one-size-fits-alls magic nostrums. That is one of the problems with national political blogs, this one included, we indulge in too much by way of national level generalizations and don’t have enough focus on local peculiarities that help swing elections.
    __

    Kilgore is probably right that the trick here is not to allow people like Bobo to pretend that they’re “centrist” when they’re really far right.

    __
    Yes to this. Our Hippy-punching media pundit overlords are right wing propagandists. They want the right to win and do everything they can to make it happen. Full stop. The evidence for this is overwhelming.

  5. 5
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Here’s my issue with “centrism”: it’s meaningless out of the context of the parties unlike “moderate”. Moderate is another perverted term but one that can be rehabilitated on its own merits. Centrism defines itself by some nebulous middle ground between the parties, and when both parties end up on a long lurch rightward, so does the measuing stick of “centrism”. “Centrism” is the golden mean fallacy of politics to me.

  6. 6
    ericblair says:

    The reason that centrism is appealing to a lot of voters is that, to them, it means that you don’t have to understand or think about any of the issues. Just a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B and you’re done; no tedious figuring out whether one or the other position actually makes more sense.

    It’s like when your kids start bothering you about some he-said she-said regarding who ate whose cookies. You’re not interested about the complex history of who ate what at lunch and who took an extra yesterday and who grabbed whose and all that, you’re just gonna make sure both kids have the same number of cookies and shut them up and send them on their way. Now extend that to all political debate.

  7. 7
    moonbat says:

    Obama did a good job of pointing this out the other day in his “uncivil” discussion of the Ryan budget when he noted that positions that the right wing consider left wing, big government take-over material used to be the positions of their posthumous Republican god Reagan. Centrism is not what it used to be. In that sense I think Krugman was wrong to use it as one of his useless wanker pundit positions. Brooks, Broder, et al are not centrists, they are enablers of the extreme right by trying to make us forget where the center is/was.

  8. 8
    Zagloba says:

    It would also be nice if so-called “centrists”had any defining positions — or rather any more substantial than taking the geometric mean of all vewwy vewwy sewious people.

  9. 9
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Some Guy: Fair enough, but needs to be emphasized since he is a totebagger darling with his “reasonable conservative” schtick.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    I wonder if sometimes it is less about politics and policy and just as often about tone. Does moderate necessarily equal centrist? For me using the word centrist connotes something more partisan while using the word moderate seems to be more than just policy and politics. Sure moderate can be a partisan construct but if someone was to say to me they are a moderate I would think they hold political positions that were neither purely one nor the other but also that they weren’t strident/hectoring in their opinions either. It may be those are the people that the GOP is turning off.

  11. 11
    kindness says:

    Pushing what is a Centrist is a big thing with the right right now. They figure if they repeat the lie often enough the uninformed will believe them. They’d be correct there too except this time the progressives aren’t letting them have their say without a fight.

    The issue as it stands is that the right is pissed they have to fight for their lies. They aren’t used to being challenged of any of Frank Luntz talking points. They’re pissed. I love it.

  12. 12
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Another good point is Obama care is a Republican idea. Moderate never meet utter capitulation to one extreme like Bobo does.

  13. 13
    Cassidy says:

    …implying as it does a certain degree of reasonableness and perhaps even unpredictability ignorance and inability process complex issues.

    Anyone who claims to be a moderate reminds me of those people who tried to play “true neutral” in D&D. The explanation of why you can’t still stands. You gotta pick a side.

  14. 14
    WyldPirate says:

    The problem is that the as the Rethugs have drifted further and further into Batshitinsaneville, the center, as well as the Dems that have been courting those with fence poles lodged in their rectums, have galloped ever rightward.

    Were to the point where, as someone I think here said the other day, that the center is shaking hands with Barry Goldwater and saying what a moderate guy he is while those same centrists are acknowledging that the Birchers and George Wallace have some really reasonable ideas.

    Rachel Maddow had a good spot on this rightward drift dragging the center along to the right server al months ago that is outlined (with a link to Maddow’s seqment) in this Alternet piece that expands on the phenomenon.

    The Overton window is seems to be heading to the edge of the flat earth that the Rethugs, with their ability to sell stupid ideas to stupid people, seem to want to create. The question is whether or not the “reasonable centrists” will stop at the edge and wave at the crazy asshole Rethugs as they fall off the edge or listen to the crazy fuckers screaming how great the fall is and decide to jump over the cliff with them.

  15. 15
    barath says:

    Also part of the problem is in thinking of politics as having a single axis rather than having at least two axes (e.g. one axis that’s left-right and another that’s big-small government). Without a more accurate way of describing political positions / spectrums, people get lumped into groups like “moderate” when that can mean a lot of different things.

  16. 16
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    When one party is in vigorous motion while hiding its true position, centrism cannot be usefully defined for most voters. They can’t know where the center is because one of the edges is far out of sight.

    __
    Well put, but I’d go further. The edges which we need to find to define centrism aren’t purely partisan, they are ideological, which means we need to seek outside the existing political parties to see them. FDR was a centrist, despite being a highly partisan Dem and arguably the most liberal president we’ve ever had. How so? Because Fascism and Communism were viable ideologies in his era. FDR’s liberalism was the middle way between extremes of right and left, which in the long run defeated both of them. One of the greatest successes the right wing propaganda machine has chalked up in my lifetime is to bury this truth by repeating the mantra “liberal = left” over and over until enough people believed it that the word liberal came to define the leftmost edge of the political spectrum.

  17. 17
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Personally, I think all this language – Repub/Dem, conservative/liberal/centrist/independent… blah blah blah, is dead as a doornail and completely worthless… I refuse to use any of it anymore.

    I’ll talk about candidates, actual issues, legislation… but I WILL NOT engage in conservative v liberal debates…

    Sorry, I just see it as a waste of time… just another way to dead end what might be an otherwise very worthwhile topic for discussion… and I do take my politics seriously… I may not post here endlessly, but I do pass thru BJ several times a day, to see what’s happening, along w/ multiple other political websites… damn little happens out there that I’m not at least somewhat meaningfully informed about…

  18. 18
    Some Guy says:

    I don’t have a problem with moderates. That is probably because I am a moderate. I would also like to point out that moderate does not equal centrist.

  19. 19
    jibeaux says:

    I am not going to personally ever identify as centrist, but I see that as a failing of the political parties. I believe in universal health care and paid parental leave and free speech and separation of church and state and reasonable, evidence-based environmental regulation, and lots of other things that in many European countries would make me decidedly garden-variety centrist. It’s not my fault American politics are nuts. That said, to me the best way to tackle this debate is to just keep pointing out, at every opportunity, how far and how fast the Republican party has tacked right, with the goal of keeping the 27%ers there, and welcoming everyone else into the party of maybe actually getting some shit done that doesn’t involve starving your grandma out. Centrists who recognize that there is no center anymore in the Republican party are more than welcome to join Wil Rogers’ famously unorganized one.

  20. 20
    Mike G says:

    A good bumper sticker I saw this morning:

    “Obama is not a foreign-born socialist giving away free healthcare. That would be Jesus.”

  21. 21
    Jewish Steel says:

    I hate it when people call themselves “centrists”

    Akin to folks who call themselves ‘realists.’ Implying they alone have privileged access to reality.

  22. 22
    schrodinger's cat says:

    There are three varieties of centrists

    Partisan hacks like Bobo, who pretend to be centrist but are really Republican

    Villagers like Broder and Friedman, who may be socially liberal but love the policies that benefit rentiers.

    Hipsters and “cool guys and gals” like Jon Stewart who think it is too gauche to belong to any party.

    ETA: Obviously centrists of the first type are just wolves in sheep’s clothing. There may be some hope for types 2 and 3, so we need to deal with them accordingly.

  23. 23
    Culture of Truth says:

    I don’t see it as such a condundrum. First, I don’t think any other than a very small sliver of the population follows such debates about how is a centrist or if centrism is now “bad.”

    But to the extent that people do pay attention and don’t already have an opinion on such things, the right approach is to call out fake centrists such as Bobo as right wing hacks. I might add, the right-wing has been doing this years and years, accusing everyone human being under the sun of liberal bias, if only to work the ref and move the goalposts.

  24. 24
    Downpuppy says:

    The point should never be to fight about meaningless labels. The meaningful label for Brooks is “unctuous liar in service of plutocracy”, and if you need to back it up, Tom Levenson or Moral Hazard will provide a mountain of evidence.

  25. 25
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    If you based my political views on how these things were defined 20 years ago, I would be considered a liberal Republican. Now, I’m considered a moderate Democrat. Peoples views do not break down to all-in GOP crazytrain or all-in mega-hippy, even if that is what a lot of you seem to want to believe. This is why really liberal policies don’t ever seem to get passed, even under Democratic majorities. There is a lot of diversity of opinion among Democrats on the major issues.

  26. 26
    Cassidy says:

    meaningless labels.

    See, I disagree with this. This is the same argument I have with Occupiers and the lefty anarchists types: labels mean something. Apple means something. Walmart means something. Liberal and Conservative mean something. This whole “see beyond the labels and just look at the people” only benefits them. It allows them to weasel away from owning up to their sociopathic and batshit crazy ideas. They are Conservatives. They are Republicans. They treat people like shit and they have to be made to own that.

  27. 27
    mick says:

    i myself am just waiting for rush limbaugh and roger ailes to die. how much longer can these overfed fat fucks have left anyway? will i have to pretend to be all respectful when they kick? how long do i have to wait before i can go dancing on their graves? what is the custom?

    breitbart, that death was just a gift, a surprise party.

    and oh yeah:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsa4t89IzaE

  28. 28

    @Cassidy: Seriously. If your character is “neutral neutral,” why the hell is he on this campaign to begin with?

  29. 29
    DougJ, Head of Infidelity says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Pretty good summary.

  30. 30
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony:

    There is a lot of diversity of opinion among Democrats on the major issues.

    __
    There is a fair amount of diversity amongst Republicans as well, but one of the things that has worked really well for them in terms of the mechanics of their coalition is that their single-issue voters are very willing to back the current leadership regardless of whether their issue is on the front-burner or not, because the Dems are always worse and that trumps all other considerations.
    __
    To take one example: anti-abortion voters will vote GOP unti hell freezes over and they don’t seem to care all that much whether the GOP leadership is more interested in tax cuts and launching wars of agression than doing anything about social issues. Ditto for just about every other single issue that motivates some segment of the GOP base. The haters are happy as long as they can get their hate on.
    __
    Dems on the other hand seem to be less single minded, and they expect results. Which means that if whatever issue that is most important to me as a Dem today is not at the top of the Dem leadership’s horse-trading agenda, then I’m not happy, and I feel free to switch issues as the mood shifts.
    __
    Broad spectrum voters who expect progress are harder to please than authoritarian-follower single issue voters who are willing to take a number and wait in line.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    Clime Acts says:

    the trick here is not to allow people like Bobo to pretend that they’re “centrist” when they’re really far right.

    Could you explain why doing so is not permitted for Bobo, but is just fine for President Obama, particularly on matters of the security state and civil rights?

    Thanks.

  33. 33
    ericblair says:

    @jibeaux:

    I believe in universal health care and paid parental leave and free speech and separation of church and state and reasonable, evidence-based environmental regulation, and lots of other things that in many European countries would make me decidedly garden-variety centrist.

    Except that “free speech” may not be as free as Americans tend to regard it in some European countries that have fairly stringent hate speech laws, or Canada where Quebec language laws exist. Similarly, “separation of church and state” may be considered a secondary issue in many countries with established churches (that few people attend, but anyway).

    I agree that it can be a relief to be in a place that is far more sensible about lifestyle issues and the relationships between policy and science. But the left/right map is different for different parts of the world, and it can be a little jarring when you run across the differences.

  34. 34
    Phoebe says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity: This is exactly how I feel and have felt for about forever. I’m what I suppose is a hippie, but I send my kids to charter schools because the charter schools don’t suck, and the public schools suck big fucking elephant fucking balls, and I’m tired of hearing that they’re evil because they’re undermining the sucky sucky public school system that sucks, plus teacher unions also too. Fuck them all. Schools don’t exist for teachers they exist for kids. Stop sucking and I’ll start caring about preserving you. That said, lots of charter schools suck. Also, I apologize for using the term “suck” derisively, because literal sucking is a great and glorious thing and should not be denigrated just because homo men and hetero women do it. Though not to elephants I guess.

  35. 35
    WyldPirate says:

    @Clime Acts:

    I’ll save the Obot apologists a lot of spittle-flecked apoplexy in responding: “shaddup, that’s why!”

  36. 36
    slim's tuna provider says:

    i think we are doomed to wait until enough people who have never explicitly felt the republican lash experience it first hand. i mean, even president snow was smart enough to keep the capitol happy, and the capitol was a lot more than 1% of the population. ryan & co. are not even smart enough to do that. their attacks are on so many fronts that eventually they will have to moderate them, pull a coup, or be politically wiped out. at this rate, very few families in 2025 will meet these criteria: 1) not have a young unemployed person 2)not have someone who would have to deal with ryan’s coupons for codgers if passed 3) not have a black or brown or mixed in-law of some kind, or a gay kid. it is true that the hateyness pulls single-issue republicans into the tent, but it has the effect of alienating people without providing any tangible benefits to the people that don’t hate.

  37. 37
    justawriter says:

    I too would like to pull ideas from both parties, but the only Republican ideas seem to be:
    1. no taxes on the rich
    2. let criminals run riot as long as they own a major corporation
    3. no taxes on the rich
    4. let the poor die in the street
    5. no taxes on the rich
    6. open hunting season on “coloreds” and abortion providers
    7. no taxes on the rich
    8. invade countries sitting on our oil
    9. no taxes on the rich
    Did I miss anything?

  38. 38
    rikyrah says:

    The center are just sheep waiting to jump on a bandwagon

  39. 39
    Comrade Dread says:

    I’m pro-free markets, but pro-regulation of said markets (and think such regulations should be reviewed periodically for effectiveness and the public good and repealed if they don’t meet those standards) and a sane progressive tax policy that does not soak the rich to the point where economic growth is hampered and a strong social safety net that takes care of those who fall into trouble, but does its best to get them back on their feet quickly and improve their lives.

    Back before 1980, that would have made me a conservative. Between 1980-2000, that would have made me a moderate. After 2000, it makes me a liberal.

    I’m pro-life and personally religious, but I think that a secular government dedicated to preserving liberty should mind its own business most of the time unless someone’s conduct hurts someone else or someone else’s property.
    Back before 2000, that would probably have made me a moderate. These days it makes me the anti-Christ.

    So what I’m saying is that as the GOP gets more hard right, the terms we use to describe ourselves change in response.

  40. 40
    dmbeaster says:

    This is a no brainer.

    Of course progressives should have no trouble making deals with true centrists. And yes, that label does fit Obama accurately much more so than a progressive label. His Hope campaign apparently sold-starry eyed progressives that he was allegedly one of them, but he never was. It was clear to me in 2008 that he was not, and was too centrist for what I preferred, but one thing you always do is make allegiance with a winner even if not 100% in your camp.

    And yes, absolutely paint all Republicans as non-centrists, as stealth hard right revolutionaries if the label even half-way fits. Every one of these Ryan lovers merits the label. Bobo should never be coddled in the slightest, but painted as hard right and labeled as disingenuous about his true stripes.

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Large numbers of people like to think of themselves as moderates and centrists. Explaining to them that they are jackholes who don’t know what the fuck they want is tempting — but there are so many of them that it’s highly counterproductive to do so. It’s much like how it’s wise to find ways to avoid alienating religious people, even if you’re not religious and think religion is all a sham, because they outvote you.

    The problem is allowing the moderate/centrist label to apply to things like “entitlement reform.” That kind of policy feels to pundits like The Middle, but it has little to do with the things self-avowed moderates and centrists actually (profess to) want.

  42. 42
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @WyldPirate:

    “shaddup, that’s why!”

    __
    Shaddup, that’s why can mean different things.
    __
    Sometimes it is shorthand for “I have no arguments or evidence to backup my assertions”. At other times it is shorthand for “I’ve tried explaining my point of view to you numerous times, and done my best to show my work, but you obstinately refuse to listen or even to at bare minimum acknowledge that other people besides you have valid points to make. So there is no point in even attempting to talk to you.”
    __
    Parsing out which of these two rather different interpretations is closer to the truth requires an open-minded evaluation of the context and is a useful life skill.

  43. 43
    Satanicpanic says:

    @Phoebe: This is like saying when my car starts driving better I will spend money on an oil change!

  44. 44
    taylormattd says:

    I hate it when people call themselves “centrists” and wank about liking ideas from both parties, but, voters like that shit, and Kilgore is probably right that the trick here is not to allow people like Bobo to pretend that they’re “centrist” when they’re really far right.

    This right here is completely true, and it is also why the “left” blogosphere is completely and utterly useless.

  45. 45
    OzoneR says:

    @ericblair:

    The reason that centrism is appealing to a lot of voters is that, to them, it means that you don’t have to understand or think about any of the issues.

    further, it makes them feel open-minded and not a radical. We hate radicals.

  46. 46
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Clime Acts: Just because you see yourself as “left” and object to something, that doesn’t necessarily make that thing “right.” You can say that Obama’s handling of terrorism and civil liberties is appalling, if you like, but it’s not ideologically conservative. You just hate it.

  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    The best policies are always an even mix of the best policy proposals and the worst policy proposals, especially when they mostly consist of the worst proposals.

    It’s wrong to be “polarized” when one set of people are backing policies ranging from decent to great, and another set of people are backing policies ranging from awful to apocalyptic. One should make sure and incorporate both sets of perspectives.

  48. 48
    kindness says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Hipsters and “cool guys and gals” like Jon Stewart who think it is too gauche to belong to any party.

    It’s curious that you call the one person in the media doing more work than anyone else calling out the bullshit of the right as a ‘hipster and cool guy’ who is too gauche to belong to any party.

    That’s a pretty pissy & fucked up thing to say about Jon Stewart. Me thinks it says more about you than it does about him.

  49. 49
    El Cid says:

    @FlipYrWhig: No one on the actual left who grasps anything of traditional class conflict theory would be stupid enough to mistake the capitalist servility and reform undermining nature of the fake “party” known as Americans Elect.

  50. 50
    bemused says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Republican voters are much easier to herd.

  51. 51
    Clime Acts says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Oh.

    Well, if you say so, Flyp.

  52. 52
    Jewish Steel says:

    @kindness: Is Stewart a noble speaker of truth to power? Or is he just a comedian on a comedy news show? It depends on whether he feels cornered by a tough question or not.

  53. 53
    Bruce S says:

    If you guys want to mock a truly insidious and nutty piece of “Even the liberal New Republic”-ism, check this out. On “Democrat’s complicity” in the GOPer’s War on Women because…uh…they run candidates against Republicans and sometimes win. This is the stuff that absolutely destroys any credibility the magazine gains from a handful of relatively liberal writers who don’t above all else crave lunch dates with David Brooks or buy tables at AIPAC conferences.

    http://www.tnr.com/article/pol.....crat-snowe

    One of the front-pagers might have fun tearing this crank apart!

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Cid:

    No one on the actual left who grasps anything of traditional class conflict theory would be stupid enough to mistake the capitalist servility and reform undermining nature of the fake “party” known as Americans Elect.

    Which explains why Timmy loooooves American Select. Corporate overlords hand-picking a candidate without all of that messy “voting” and “campaigning”? Yes, please!

  55. 55
    catclub says:

    @Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: “There is a lot of diversity of opinion among Democrats on the major issues.”

    Understatement of the year candidate.

  56. 56
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @kindness: And what does making personal attacks on someone you don’t even know, make you? About Jon Stewart, he does do a good Broder impersonation at times, he calls out the Republicans but is quick to point out Democrats suck too. He was quite insulting and rude to Obama, when Obama was on the show, same with Nancy Pelosi. On the other hand is congenial and nice to war criminals like Rumsfeld and John Yoo. His entire Rally to promote Civility, was based on the premise that both sides do it and he is too cool and above it all. You may not like my characterization of Stewart but it is fact based, unlike your fact free rant about me.

  57. 57
    catclub says:

    @FlipYrWhig: “Explaining to them that they are jackholes who don’t know what the fuck they want is tempting”

    A diplomat is someone who can convince his wife that a new fur coat would make her look stout … and have her thank him.

  58. 58
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne: Which Timmy?

    Did you mean Tommy Friedman? Tim Geithner?

    Tim Duncan – I didn’t know that about him. Tim Tebow?

    Tim Russert from the grave?

  59. 59
    John N says:

    I’m getting to the point where I think all of this stuff dances around the major issue: this electoral system needs major overhaul. Maybe something like proportional representation and/or eliminating the anti-democratic Senate. How about mandatory voting? The one thing everyone agrees on, across the board, is that Congress sucks, and doesn’t work. IMO, it’s time to start questioning the system itself. Maybe with proportional representation, we could all vote the way we think is right, without having to compromise all of our principles every single time, and everything else would shake out around those results. I dunno, I’m no expert or anything, but it seems that this system has failed. It’s time to stop lionizing a bunch of 18th Century politicians and start looking to new ideas and solutions.

  60. 60
    schrodinger's cat says:

    This both sides do it, meme, is dangerous, it contributes to voter apathy which ultimately benefits Republicans, since they win when less people vote.

  61. 61
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    It’s curious that you call the one person in the media doing more work than anyone else calling out the bullshit of the right as a ‘hipster and cool guy’ who is too gauche to belong to any party.

    @kindness: You gotta be kidding. What has Stewart done to “call out the right”? NOT JACK SQUAT.

    Stewart is nothing but one of the DC “cool kids” these days, giving aid and comfort to any and all Republicans who want to come on his show. If he had a newspaper column we’d call him “Tom Friedman”.

    Colbert…that’s another story altogether, but Colbert ain’t Stewart, now is he?

  62. 62
    Cassidy says:

    @Cris (without an H): If I had a nickel for every time I had to ask that question….I’d still only get a cup of gas station coffee, but still.

  63. 63
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Colbert rocks! Have you noticed how he never gets high profile Republican guests.

  64. 64
    kindness says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I didn’t attack you. I said the things you said about Jon Stewart were pissy & fucked up. They were, admit it. Jon isn’t a standard bearer and he isn’t even a talking head. He’s a comedian who says more real stuff than any talking head, not named Rachael Maddow, does.

    You don’t like that he calls out bullshit on Democrats & Obama too? Dude….what do you think I meant when I said it says more about you than him? Kool Aide much? Yes.

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    @catclub:

    Oh, sorry — “Clime Acts” is the poster formerly known as Tim and several other names I’ve lost track of. He posts for a few months until he manages to get himself banned for various offenses, like vocally supporting pedophiles. Then Cole puts him in the penalty box for a while.

  66. 66
    Heliopause says:

    My problem with the self-identified Centrists is that they see Centrism as a goal in itself. Centrism should be where you end up if you find the poles of a given issue unacceptable. Even I can end up Centrist on certain things. However, if you approach an issue with the goal of landing in the Center before you’ve even pondered it you’re a goddamned moron. Sorry, there’s no civil, Centristy way of saying that.

  67. 67

    @Heliopause:

    they see Centrism as a goal in itself.

    My old moral theology professor used to say that 90% of human unhappiness came from failing to distinguish means from ends, or needs from wants, or most commonly, both

  68. 68
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @kindness: Don’t call me dude,

    I didn’t attack you.

    You did

    I said the things you said about Jon Stewart were pissy & fucked up. Me thinks it says more about you than it does about him.

    Sounds like an attack to me.

    You don’t like that he calls out bullshit on Democrats & Obama too? Dude….what do you think I meant when I said it says more about you than him? Kool Aide much? Yes.

    Stewart can criticize the Democrats all he wants but he doesn’t just do that he promotes the false equivalence so beloved by the MSM that both the parties are equally culpable for the mess we are in. See the Bruce Bartlett interview, to see what I mean.

    I am pretty critical about Obama on economic matters, and I have no love for the Democrats, its just that I can’t stomach the Republicans, at all.

    It seems to me like you are the one that has drunk the Stewart Kool-aid.

  69. 69

    @schrodinger’s cat: Irony will kill a republic as dead as tyranny. I’m not sure you can keep one alive without satire. And that’s why I watch Colbert, and usually pass on Stewart.

  70. 70
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Davis X. Machina: His Bruce Bartlett interview did it for me. I too watch Colbert mostly with Stewart in extremely small doses. I do like John Oliver though, he is pretty funny.

  71. 71
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Irony will kill a republic as dead as tyranny

    __
    There are two pairs of attitudes which people tend of conflate, but which are not only distinct, but one of them is healthy in a democracy and the other is toxic. The first pair is Satire:Irony. The second pair is Skepticism:Cynicism.

  72. 72
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I don’t have any beef with people who actually are in the middle of the political spectrum. The Brookses and Slates and Sullivans of the world, who are ‘centrist’ for the purposes of helping the long con of turning teabagger insanity into common sense and common sense into communist propaganda in the public mind, those guys can suck it. They’re not centrists, they’re right-wing apparatchiks.

    I think getting angrier at centrists than at actual far-right loons is stupid, though. I also think that if the far right is destroyed, it will naturally shift our politics to the left, as Brooks et al won’t have a leg to stand on.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    If you like John Oliver, he co-hosts a podcast with Andy Saltzman called “The Bugle” that you can subscribe to through iTunes. It used to be sponsored by (I think) the Guardian UK but they got dropped.

    It’s extremely funny. Oliver is the originator of the “fuck-eulogy.” He did classic ones for Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong Il.

  74. 74
    kindness says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Me thinks you whines too much.

    I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. I said:
    ‘That’s a pretty pissy & fucked up thing to say about Jon Stewart. Me thinks it says more about you than it does about him.’

    That is me telling you what you said was pissy, fucked up and unworthy. Now had I said YOU were pissy, fucked up and unworthy, then you would rightfully be able to say I was attacking you.

    Big difference. Get used to it dude.<—see, sarcasm….don't go off on it.

  75. 75
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @catclub:

    And yet, a remarkable number of commentors still don’t seem to get this.

  76. 76
    sparky says:

    3.3 Only the proposition has sense; only in the context of a proposition does a name have meaning.

    –Wittgenstein

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    @ericblair:

    The reason that centrism is appealing to a lot of voters is that, to them, it means that you don’t have to understand or think about any of the issues. Just a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B and you’re done; no tedious figuring out whether one or the other position actually makes more sense.

    Seems to me it’s just the opposite. Rather than thinking through a position, the ideologically committed need only look to the the template of pre-digested ideas to find out what their position is supposed to be.

    It’s like people who only read or link to the Guardian, not because they view the paper as accurate or trustworthy, but because they desperately want the news viewed through a liberal filter. This is almost, though not as bad, as Fox News, which is pure conservative propaganda (or the UK Daily Mail).

    A lot of people view politics as a useful and necessary evil, not as the deliverer of all good, or as totally evil. And a lot of people who might describe themselves as centrists are pragmatic, and clearly see that there is no one truth, nor one true way to the truth.

    But this does not say that people do not see how the Republicans have moved far from anything resembling the center, have purged moderates from their ranks, and have embraced ignorance, fear, intolerance and a rigid faux Christianity.

    I also agree that a pundit like Brooks is not a centrist. He is an apologist for the Republicans, an unthinking boob.

    @John N:

    I’m getting to the point where I think all of this stuff dances around the major issue: this electoral system needs major overhaul. Maybe something like proportional representation

    Proportional reprsentation and some parliamentary systems give you crap like what happened in Canada, where conservatives ended up winning anyway, or the UK, where a deadlock resulted in the thrashing of Labour, but an impotent Liberal Democratic Party pretending to be a partner to the Conservatives, who are really running things.

    I also wonder a proportional system here would have resulted in the Tea Party having even more power. And since some ideas and political positions are truly stupid, there is no universe in which I would want to see, for example, libertarians getting any significant political representation.

  78. 78
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Clime Acts: Well, it’s not. Being outraged at the government using its powers too freely and intrusively pulls together Glenn Greenwald, Randy Weaver, and Huey Newton. You can be left or right on a whole panoply of other issues, and then also care deeply about this one. Censorship and p0rn are two other issues that don’t break down on the left/right pattern very neatly either.

  79. 79
    HgMn says:

    @justawriter: I think you missed
    no taxes on the rich

  80. 80
    Djur says:

    There’s three distinct camps termed “centrist” or “moderate”: first, members of either side of the political spectrum tending toward moderate positions; second, people who ascribe moral value to tending toward moderate positions; third, politicians and their advisers who promote moderate positions as more politically viable and effective.

    The first is what most people mean by “moderate”: I’m a Democrat, but I’m in favor of NAFTA and not gay marriage, I vote for whoever most closely fits my position.

    The second is what I’d call “centrism” and what “centrism” has traditionally meant: I’m a Democrat, but I’m in favor of NAFTA and not gay marriage, look how lofty and bipartisan my balls are.

    The third is your DLC/Third Way/Clintonite position, also referred to as “centrist”: I’m a Democrat, but I’m in favor of NAFTA and not gay marriage, because I’m a uniter, not a divider.

    I would define “centrism” as a political philosophy encouraging an active choice to select middle-ground positions because such positions are inherently superior to “extreme” positions. I think Revelations 3:16 sums up my opinion of this group: “So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

    This doesn’t apply to moderates, who come to their positions naturally, the same way anybody does. It’s far too easy for moderates to become centrists by deciding that their position is superior because it is moderate, however. The Democratic party is the natural home for moderates, and the Republican party has rejected them.

  81. 81
    Djur says:

    One addendum: a lot of people who think they’re moderates are actually liberals by any traditional measure, because our culture fetishizes moderation and because the Right has succeeded in making “liberal” sound like “commie” in many people’s heads. For example, Comrade Dread summarized a position which has been described as “liberal” since FDR, and seems to think that this is a new situation. Liberals have always been in favor of regulated free markets. It’s one of the main properties of American liberalism. The same is true of the “safety net” model of welfare — it was pre-1980s liberals who enacted such programs, after all. And I’d love to see the liberal who says “I want an insane progressive tax system which soaks the rich to the point the economy collapses”.

  82. 82
    brewmn says:

    @DougJ, Head of Infidelity: Can’t say this is fair to Stewart. He might like to point out the occasional spasm of idiocy coming from the Dems or the left, but his show currently runs about a dozen pieces skewering the Repubs and conservatives for every one that takes on the other side.

    I think it’s a much more reasonable assumption to assume that Stewart stays rhetorically “centrist” to prevent his show from getting tossed into the the right-wing blender of outrage against the “liberal media,” causing him to lose both credibility and market share in the process.

  83. 83
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @brewmn: I disagree. I think Stewart is a both-sides-suck, I call ’em as I sees ’em social liberal/fiscal conservative. That’s why he was such a fan of 1999-vintage John McCain and why he falls for Wasteful Spending woo time and again. Sometimes his critiques are of the John Cole “why are all Democrats such pussies?” variety, but at least as often they’re more like “let’s come together, split the difference, balance the budget, and knock off the bullshit.”

  84. 84
    samara morgan says:

    @Comrade Dread: you can’t be pro-free markets and pro-regulation.
    you can only be pro-regulated markets.

  85. 85
    samara morgan says:

    @FlipYrWhig: but both sides do sukk…just on different things.
    for example, BJ’s refusal to accept cognitive genomics as science is isomorphic with conservative refusal to accept ToE.

  86. 86
    Phoebe says:

    @Satanicpanic:

    “This is like saying when my car starts driving better I will spend money on an oil change!”

    No it isn’t. Because I can’t fix a public school by sending my kid to it. The people who run these things are not changing the goddamn oil and I’m not getting in that car if I can help it.

  87. 87
    Mod Dem says:

    As a self described Moderate…and a Democrat, I at least appreciate the fact that you are not totally trashing Moderates (I hate “middle of the Road” as a term). Unlike one of the above commments, I view Moderate as one who DOES examine issues versus blindly subscribing to an ideology defined by someone else. However, perhaps there should be some loose definition of “moderate,” especially when people start calling Romney and Ryan moderates which they are not.

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