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November 08, 2007

Phony Centrists, Who Do Not Excite...

I'll join in the chorus lambasting the "blue dog" Democrats for making it part of their policy platform to bravely ignore the interests and needs of low income voters, with this week's example being their principled desire to let lots of people lose their homes. As Matt says, it's another case where the "Blue Dogs are voting their donors rather than their districts." But it's also a case where they're voting their reputations rather than their districts. The Blue Dogs certainly appear to think that a reputation for centrism and independence is an electoral boon in their home electorates, and they get that reputation, in the media, by repeatedly breaking with the Democratic Party on things like Social Security, the Bankruptcy Bill, etc, etc. You saw it with Harold Ford Jr., who got lots of loving coverage as a new type of Democrat who possibly was fit for Tennessee, despite the fact that the sort of economic conservatism Ford is known for doesn't actually appear to be some fond desire of Tennesseans.

In any case, this gets back to the media's weird definition of "centrism, which is not "holding opinions similar to that of a majority or plurality of the American people," but "holding opinions similar to that of The Washington Post editorial board, and routinely breaking with the Democratic Party on high profile issues."

November 8, 2007 | Permalink


No. That "weired" form of "centrism" is more like trying to split the difference between not offending your corporate paymasters and big money donors, and purporting the illusion of being the champions of the middle and working class when in fact the two interest are not diametrically opposed, but definitely divergent.

Posted by: onlinesavant | Nov 8, 2007 11:30:46 AM

The Washington Post editorial board is to the left of center.

Posted by: ostap | Nov 8, 2007 11:59:34 AM

Wow. I had to Google it to be sure - been a long time since I was 17 - but nice ATCQ reference there, Ezra.

Posted by: Will | Nov 8, 2007 12:42:32 PM

How fascinating, ostap, that calls to privatize social security, endorsement of free trade agreements, and unrepentent endorsement of hte iraq war for 5 years straight is considered "left of center" in the rarefired universe in which you live. You know why Republicans are losing elections right and left? Because they listen to people like you, who are completely out of touch with reality. And it's why the current crop of Republican presidential candidates is sounding crazier and crazier every day.

Posted by: Tyro | Nov 8, 2007 12:52:23 PM

Nice homage to A Tribe Called Quest...

Posted by: Evan | Nov 8, 2007 1:01:03 PM

Why are you blogofascists always blog-o-Holocausting the good, centrist men of the Blue Dog Group and the New Republic?

And, leave my invisible kitty alone, you juvenile whippersnapper!

Someone Who Has Never Met Lee Siegel

Posted by: sprezzatura | Nov 8, 2007 1:56:48 PM

I get loose off of orange juice.

Posted by: eriks | Nov 8, 2007 2:05:11 PM

What is the centrist position between:

The president does not have to obey any laws or international treaties, as long as he claims to be acting in the interest of national security


The president is sworn to uphold the constitution and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.


The Department of Justice can undertake phony prosecutions of non-existent voter fraud in order to help the party in power win elections, and fire U.S. attorneys who don't take part in the scam


The DoJ should act apolitically on behalf of the rule of law.


The United States can undertake wars of agression against countries that pose no imminent threat and have not attacked the United States, based on false pretenses, in order to "project power" into the Middle East


The United States is bound by international law and treaties and should work through diplomacy and international institutions in order to preserve peace and promote global prosperity.

And I can of course go on and on. "Centrism" is horseshit. Sometimes there are, in fact, different beliefs about what is and is not good public policy, and there just isn't anything in the middle. I'm right and you're wrong. End of story.

Posted by: Cervantes | Nov 8, 2007 2:49:35 PM

I also think that there's a feeling of intellectual superiority behind a lot of centrism. This drips off of people like Tom Friedman and Joe Lieberman-- it's revulsion of what Atrios refers to as the "dirty hippies". They think that liberals are Pollyannas who have no appreciation for the realities of the world, and by supporting corporatism and slaughter, they can congratulate themselves about making the "tough tradeoffs" that the dirty hippies don't appreciate the need for.

Posted by: Dilan Esper | Nov 8, 2007 2:51:43 PM

Cervantes, the short version of what you're saying is that the centrist position between the truth and a lie is still a lie.

Yes, they were all gung-ho about Ford, weren't they? Still are. He's their kind of Democrat, all right: Criticizes Democrats, sounds like a Republican, loses the election. Perfect!

Posted by: Rick Massimo | Nov 8, 2007 3:46:17 PM

The progressives should put primary contenders into the running against any Blue/BushDogs that consistently vote with the GOP - and let them know in advance that they can/will be replaced (for as many as we can raise money for contenders).

First order of business is to strictly track their voting records and then prioritize who gets primaried.

This Dem is mad as hell (and won't take it anymore) at replacing the old (racist) solid Dem. south with these so-called Blue Dogs - they are really Red/Purple Dogs. They need to be neutered or spayed, and sent off to lobbyist haven. If they want to be Republicans, let them change parties, and good riddance to them. They make our party look really bad to the country and the media.

A hell of way to run a railroad, I'd say.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 8, 2007 5:02:10 PM


(1) Instead of saying I'm "completely out of touch with reality," aren't you supposed to say you disagree with me?

(2) I would bet the ranch, my mother's teeth, and my dog's 2 front legs that the editorial board of the Post is comprised (composed?) almost entirely of people who almost always vote Democratic -- i.e., that they're left of center. They're well to your right, but so what?

Posted by: ostap | Nov 8, 2007 5:05:45 PM

ostap, I note that you did not in any way dispute my assertions that the WaPo editorials editorialize in favor of a right-of-center set of policies.

Your argument seems to be that "the WaPo editorial board might hold right of center views and advocate for right-of-center policies, but, deep down, in their heart of hearts, they're on the left."

Posted by: Tyro | Nov 8, 2007 5:14:10 PM

I would bet the ranch, my mother's teeth, and my dog's 2 front legs that the editorial board of the Post is comprised (composed?) almost entirely of people who almost always vote Democratic -- i.e., that they're left of center. They're well to your right, but so what?

I'll take that bet... Your liberal sprinkling of weasel words ("almost entirely of people who almost always vote Democratic") pretty much mark you as talking out of your hat. I bet you're one of those sad fellows who think CNN is "the liberal news channel."

And you want "composed".

Posted by: ibc | Nov 8, 2007 5:19:18 PM


My "weasel words" were sprinkled because I doubt that each and every member of the Post editorial board is a Democrat, and even among the Democrats I doubt that each and every one always votes Democratic. Almost entirely and almost always, but not completely.

And sorry about your dog and mom. Keys and directions to the ranch, please.

Posted by: ostap | Nov 8, 2007 6:02:08 PM

ostap: Obviously, if Tyro thinks you're out of touch with reality, he doesn't need to say he disagrees with you. Point is, it's deeper than that--for Tyro, it's not just a matter of opinion to say that the WaPo editorial board is not left of center--it simply isn't so in the way that water being wet isn't a matter of opinion. Even if they were all Democrats, they could be "centrist" Democrats.

BTW: Why are you responding to your own bet? You said youwould bet those things.

Posted by: Panurge | Nov 8, 2007 6:52:53 PM

Otsap doesn't read words too good, does he?

Posted by: Dan | Nov 8, 2007 7:31:33 PM

ostap's got CW and truthyness on his side.

Posted by: Frederick | Nov 8, 2007 9:23:47 PM

Like others here, I also believe that a lot of the centrists' positions are phony. For example, I think that there is something fundamentally flawed about a universal health care plan that is not a single payer plan. The great benefits that come with eliminating the insurance industry and all that redundant overhead from our health care system are lost when you take any of the "centrist" universal health care plans, like all of them except Kucinich's plan. Richardson has waffled on this one, so one cannot assume that he would support a "Medicare for All" plan as proposed by Kucinich. It is too obvious that the basis for the "leading" democrats to support plans that are not single payer is that they must appease the medical and related insurance industries which are supporting them as candidates or, as the candidates expect, will support them in the future.

I believe that most of the European plans and some others are single-payer plans. Why can't we wake up and smell the coffee?

So Clinton and the other "leading" Democratic candidates all favor industry-based "universal" health care plans, that maintain the role of the insurance industry and keep private health care services on some kind of altar. I put "leading" in quotes because a major reason they are leading is the way that the concentration of power, as reflected in the political bias of the press, routinely propagandizes in favor of the "mainstream" (status quo) or some minor tweaking of that, instead of truly entertaining the arguments on their merits.

Nancy Pelosi, in taking impeachment off the table, might view herself as a centrist instead of the wimpy-assed sucker that she is. How do you take a centrist position when the nation is being put at serious risk by a most unwise leader who is surrounded by ill-intentioned or possibly insane advisors. I don't really have a clue what is going through her head, but she acts like she believes that some expectation of short term political success is the be-all of political action, even while the damn ship is sinking. History will remember her well if - dread the thought - Bush's and Cheney's WW3 is begun as a result of them remaining in office. Yeah, yeah, preaching to the choir...

Posted by: Berry | Nov 9, 2007 12:46:39 AM

I happen to be a centrist who is populist on economic issues and conservative on social issues. In the real world, I find a significant number of individuals who think along similar lines. In the world of blogging and political activism, the vast majority of centrists are a different breed. Most of these online centrists identify with Wall Street on economic matters and the values of Woodstock on social questions.

There is a constituency for economic populism even in the reddest states. Democrats need to be unified in defense of working families on economic matters but diverse in views on the divisive social issues which have alienated us from large areas of Middle America.

Democrats have a long way to go to becoming the party that fights for the middle class while having a big tent on social issues. I cannot imagine a Democrat as pro-life as Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice being a viable candidate for the party's Presidential nomination. And the roll call vote on the Peru free trade deal suggests that only a narrow majority of Democrats in Congress are willing to stand up against Wall Street. A true centrism that defends traditional values and the economic interests of working families is what we need.

Posted by: Right Democrat | Nov 10, 2007 10:04:01 AM

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