If anyone tells you in the next few months that MSNBC is a den of liberal vipers, show them this clip. Sure, many of it’s commentators are opposed to virulent conservatism, but they love the idea of the Republicans being just a hair less extreme. The politicians championed last night were former Senator Richard Lugar, who at many points has supported assault weapons bans, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, because he’s currently calling for Republicans to act like adults. Never mind if Lugar was once known as Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor, and only began to show skepticism against against the Iraq War in 2007, right on schedule with other proclaimed moderates like Senator Chuck Hagel. Never mind if Bobby Jindal pushed soft creationism. They’re moderates! Why? Because someone said so!
(This is an often overlooked part of the theory of the Overton Window – that by calling the proponents of ideas moderate, do we in some sense “make” them and their ideas moderate?)
In fact, Ezra’s willing to cede the title of moderate to Representative Paul Ryan of all people, since he’s willing to back down some of the time on the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling if the deals are far enough to the right. Again, we’re apparently going to sweep the whole effectively-illegalizing-abortion-and-fertility-procedures thing under the rug, even if that was going on at the same time. Ezra admits almost ten minutes into the segment that maybe this is primarily rhetorical and so the quiet overturning of established principles by “moderate” Republicans is more perceived as different from the Tea Party than actually is different.
So, thanks Klein for admitting that this entire discussion is effectively meaningless, but that doesn’t exactly undo the damage of labeling Ryan, Lugar, and Jindal moderates because they say so. That’s precisely the problem actually – there exists a pretty intense effort to make that argument, that conservative politics, as long as they’re not in actual Klansmen hoods, are moderate because that “feels” accurate.
How many times more do we have to go through discovering that those “moderate”, “sensible” Republicans are actually pretty extreme? We’ve gone through people being shocked that Midwestern Republican Governor after Midwestern Republican Governor (and so on) has tried to shut down unions, especially public sector ones. And in the cases where it’s truly undeniable, we’ve simply ignored that present radicals used to be called moderates. And the residual moderate status of politicians like Senator McCain and new moderate status of Jindal, Lugar, and perhaps even Ryan makes Ezra Klein’s skepticism towards an increasingly nonsensical stock conservatism into virulent liberalism in comparison. With one motion, to be even a centrist progressive becomes a radical perspective and to rewrite the country’s legal definition of person as beginning at conception is an almost moderate stance.
Every once in a while, some one says something unhinged enough that you might realize that this isn’t moderate. But will we actually put together what it means when that’s happened with almost every prominent conservative? How many times do we have to be fooled before we’re ashamed…