I generally enjoy the work Alex Pareene does in "Salon": he goes after most of the worst offenders on my personal "Least Wanted" pundidiot list, and his ink usually has the right pH balance between healthy skepticism and eschatology.
Today, however, while Mr. Pareene's targeting software remains as acute as ever
he has let himself be lured onto a gently-sloping goat-pathAs David Brooks taught us last week, Barack Obama’s cunning plan to sabotage and undermine the Republican Party is to repeatedly force them to act as extremist and irresponsible as possible by proposing popular and sensible things that they refuse to support. By advocating gun control and immigration reform, two things Obama supports because he and most liberals believe them to be morally and politically necessary, Obama is tricking Republicans into revealing that they are dysfunctional, leaderless, and increasingly divided into two camps: the all-out crazies and the merely corrupt. This saddens David Brooks, naturally, because most things seem to sadden David Brooks, America’s Foremost Humility Expert.
What do the Beltway moderates actually want?
Centrist thinkers keep begging Barack Obama to pursue "bipartisan" goals he already supports...But as the president begins his second term, I thought it’d be useful to try to figure out what “moderate Republican” columnists and “pox on both houses” centrists actually want the president to be doing.
that traces exactly the same route as the stairwaysHow would we go about identifying the sorts of policies that would qualify as bipartisan, uncontroversial and capable of uniting America around a common goal again? Well, there are Brooks’ suggestions, which are mostly things Barack Obama has already repeatedly announced his support for. As Jonathan Chait pointed out, these suggestions are either things that have already been done or things that Republicans would just not support if Obama proposed them again.
of Mr. Maurits Cornelis Escher.
Around and around and nowhere.
(I know, I know. You, being clever, have noticed that I've already used up the two most common English words that begin with "esch..." and you're asking yourself, "Will he get around to 'escharotic' or 'eschalot' [or "Will he burn a shallot?" as they might well say in the professional word biz]? Only time will tell, citizen. Onward!)
The terrible, open secret is that Beltway moderates don't want anything in particular, because inside the Beltway, "moderation" long ago stopped being either an ideal or a ideology.
Remember that political failure Michael Steele only has a career because he was willing to willing to be the black front man who made the Beast with Two Political Backs with the Party of Jefferson Davis. The only way he can keep from hanging himself in an MSNBC Men's Rooms stall is by calling himself a moderate.
Remember that the David Brooks who made his bones mocking Democrats as stupid and demagogic back when they were sounding the alarm about George Bush incinerating the Clinton surpluses and plunging us back into another era of crippling Republican deficits...
...is the same David Brooks who spends every other column these days rending his garments and hand-wringing over Liberal refusal to cut those never-gonna-happen deficits by screwing over the poor, the sick and the elderly.
Remember that the David Brooks who bilked the New York Times into giving him a job-for-life by writing columns about how loser, Bush Deranged Liberals were probably going to fabricate some flattering, fake Liberal history for themselves now that Dubya have prevailed in Iraq...
...is the same David Brooks who, having gotten everything horribly, horribly wrong has spent the last 10 years fabricating a vast, fake history of Conservatism for himself.
As I wrote 8 years ago about Tom "Captain Obvious" Friedman, "Moderation" is now simply an empty brand, pimped by hustlers. A Potemkin construct. A
...Universe...carefully divided into Conservatives – who are wrong – and Liberals – who are somehow, mysteriously and equally wrong all the time and in equal numbers on every issue. And only Captain Obvious, frolicking across the few lonely yards of sand on his Isle of Reasonableness, can see the truth.It does not matter how many millions of miles the Shining Path Republicans drag the “middle ground” to the Right.It doesn’t matter that the Party of Lincoln is now infested crotch-to-crown with maggoty Segregationists.It doesn’t matter that Nixon looks like a fucking Socialist compared to the positions now being advocated by the GOP today.However far into the Armageddonist Abyss the wingnuts charge, Captain Obvious will dutifully pace off half that distance back towards where the Left (the band formerly know as “Rockefeller Republicans”) happened to be that day, drive his little stake into that shifting ground and declare that THIS is where the treasure of Comity and Reasonableness is buried. And that everyone on either side of his little islet is equally and oppositely wrong.And then stamp his chubby little feet and whine that No One Is Listening to Him!
For Beltway grifters like David Brooks and Michael Steele, "moderation" is just a racket.
And a damn profitable one.