Finally, Someone Has Explained Centrism

Thank you, Ezra Klein:

In fact, [the Senatorial Centrist Faction] haven’t really argued anything at all. They haven’t argued that their cuts are good or that they’re necessary. Rather, it’s been a dazzling display of the most analytically bankrupt strain of centrism: The belief that the right answer lies, by definition, somewhere between the answers that are already on the table. The Nelson-Collins bill hasn’t been justified in terms of virtues so much as in terms of abstract numerical positioning. It’s a neat trick, and widely applicable. If one party announced a bill mandating that all Americans must bathe themselves in mud and brambles, and the other party opposed the “Mud and Brambles Bathing Act of 2009,” Collins and Nelson would be right there to explain that the American people are tired of dogma and interest group politics and they have brokered a compromise mandating that all Americans take a monthly mud and brambles shower instead.


This is the same strain of bankrupt politics that led us into Iraq, by listening to centrist advisors explain that “the party has to prove itself credible on the issue of national security — something that many Democrats…here said would be impossible to do if the party were perceived as opposed to the war on Iraq.”

Or, subsequent to the war, we had centrists explain to us that Democrats “should…bring a sense of proportion to the prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay” and “by dwelling obsessively on U.S. misdeeds while ignoring the far more heinous crimes of what is quite possibly the most barbaric insurgency in modern times, anti-war critics betray an anti-American bias that undercuts their credibility.”


If President Obama wants to get anything done, and really change politics, he is going to have start getting politically introspective, because there is plenty of this kind of thinking still at play with the the Democratic party.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take my monthly mud and brambles shower.

Update: Just read this, from digby,

I’m hopeful that this is a lesson for the administration and the Democrats in congress. Despite a big electoral victory and a mandate for change, they are not going to get cooperation from the Republicans and Presidents Nelson, Snowe and Collins aren’t the kind of people who have the imagination or necessary boldness to lead us out of this mess. Obama is going to have to be a much different leader than he wanted to be. Post-partisan mediation isn’t going to work. He’s going to have to get the people behind him on the specifics and enlist them in the cause.

Exactly right.


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