Steven Pearlstein's piece on the tragic wreckage of polarization hums right along on tracks of political reality until, in the end, he fades into the familiar, pixilated twilight of Beltway journalism's conventional farce:
Some may complain that this analysis falls into the trap of moral equivalency, failing to note that Republicans practice the politics of extremism and suppression of the moderate vote and that Democrats offer more moderation and compromise. But while it is true that the move away from the political center has been asymmetric and probably began with the Republicans, the success of that strategy has now forced everyone to play the same game.
These days, congressional Democrats and Obama campaign strategists make no secret of their belief that previous attempts at moderation and compromise have not been to their benefit and that they have no choice but to energize their base with a tougher, more left-leaning campaign.
Leaving aside the understated silliness of saying the president's and Democrats' "attempts at moderation and compromise" have been unbeneficial--brief translation: they've been filibustered, blocked, demagogued, distorted, abused, slapped in the face and damn near shot at--just how, one must ask, is President Obama as party leader taking his partisan allies into a "more left-leaning campaign"?
A "tougher" campaign, true enough, because, well, it's a campaign and campaigns are tough and thus escalation is the norm. But what's the "more" of Democrats' more "left-leaning" essence? What did I miss? Have Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi been calling for the collectivization of farms? A Five-Year Industrial Plan? Postcard divorces? Churches and synagogues to be commandeered and replaced by gay bars and lesbian bathhouses?
OK, so let's not be silly ourselves; let's not reduce this to pointless exaggeration. Would not, in reality, a "more left-leaning" party and consequent campaign entail perhaps a call for single-payer health insurance? At least a modest government works project? Maybe a return to Eisenhower era (now there was a lefty radical for you) tax rates? An abrupt end to our Afghanistan adventure and a hastened beginning of substantial Pentagon-downsizing? Something along those lines?
But of course we hear none of this. Instead what we hear is a call for "fairness." Fairness. Simple fairness. At most, a four-point bump in the highest marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans or a rather gimmicky Buffetting nudge (My God, they mustn't risk the confiscatory Communist charge!) against multimillions of income. Plain, simple, perfectly reasonable centrist policies.
Yet such moderation gets farcically labelled by Beltway journalists such as Pearlstein as a more left-leaning campaign--which renders the moderates in the electorate's mind just as polarizingly culpable as authentically radical Republicans, who indeed overtly, unabashedly seek to blast nearly 100 years of hard-won social security to smithereens.
Shoddy. Journalism's whole "mainstream" analytical thing, just plain shoddy.