Last weekend, I had to take a long road trip, so I downloaded some podcasts. In my faltering quest to become a “normie” (i.e., someone who doesn’t obsess over politics), I’ve stopped watching cable news unless there’s a fast-unfolding event, and I’ve quit listening to all political podcasts regularly except the occasional Josh Marshall episode. But since I had hours and hours to fill last weekend, I downloaded a Pod Save the World episode.
I tuned a lot of it out, to be honest. Maybe I’m making more progress on the road to Normieville than I thought! But during a discussion about the reconciliation bill vs. the bipartisan infrastructure package, the O bros made a distinction between “moderates” like Amy Klobuchar and so-called “centrists” like the drama llama Manchinema pair in the Senate and their counterparts in the House, who were recently empastened (i.e., ground into paste) beneath the heel of Nancy Pelosi’s stylish sling-backs.
The terms “moderates” and “centrists” are often used interchangeably, but the O bros said there’s an important difference that should be observed. Moderates like Klobuchar have enduring political convictions that shape their views on proposals, but they’re capable of taking in new information and adjusting their stance accordingly, e.g., whoa, there’s a pandemic or a rogue SCOTUS or an outbreak of fascism in the opposite party, so we have to respond to that accordingly. Whereas “centrists” like Manchinema define their policy stance in opposition to the mainstream of their own party, regardless of external conditions. It’s a branding exercise.
That might be a big DUH to y’all, but I found it clarifying. I have no idea what it will mean for the infrastructure and reconciliation bills except to make the latter smaller, but that’s the framework within which the negotiations will proceed. As most of us suspect, there are likely a handful of senators hiding behind Manchinema’s skirts. Are they moderates or centrists? We’ll find out soon.