Friday, March 22, 2013

What Real Centrism Looks Like

On this site I often stand in the saddle of my high horse to bitch about Fake Centrism.  Fake Centrism is a racket.  A scam.  A Potemkin village run by well-connected hucksters who insist that the*:
...Universe [is] 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.
That's Fake Centrism.  Fake Moderation.  Fake Two-Siderism.

Ta Nehisi Coats -- who writes better than everybody -- recently had a near-fatal allergic reaction while on the train. Which, being nerd-to-the-core, he then blogged about before heading off to Europe with a bag of good reads.

Tucked away in his missive is this elegant description of what a real, honest Centrism can look like:
The world has changed. It has not changed totally, but it has changed significantly. When I fell out on the train, everyone on the car was white. So were all the paramedics and all the doctors and nurses. The challenge for someone trying to assess America, at this moment, is properly calibrating how far we've gone with how far we have to go. Too much optimism renders you naive; too much pessimism makes you cynical.

Je ne sais pas. What I know is I live in a time that people who made me possible only dreamed of. And then yesterday I almost lost it all...

UPDATE (h/t "Scott"):

As Peggy Noonan showed in yesterday's WSJ, 

in the seven years since I wrote that, the hustlers of Fake Centrism have not updates their hymnal by so much as a single note:
Mr. Powell told the U.N. Saddam Hussein must be stopped and asserted that Iraq had developed and was developing weapons of mass destruction. That turned out not to be true.

But I believed it, supported the war, and cheered the troops. My break came in 2005, with two columns (here and here) that questioned Mr. Bush's thinking, his core premises and assumptions, as presented in his Second Inaugural Address. That questioning in time became sharp criticism, accompanied by a feeling of estrangement. In the future I would feel a deeper skepticism toward both parties.

So that was my Iraq, wronger than some at the start, righter than some at the end, and not shocked by the darkening picture I saw when I went there in 2011.

Henry Kissinger said recently that he had in his lifetime seen America enthusiastically enter four wars and struggle in the end to end each of them.

Maybe great nations do not learn lessons, they relearn them.

I called for a serious Republican debate on its foreign policy, but the Democrats need one too. What's their overarching vision? Do they have a strategy, or only sentiments?

There's a lot of Republican self-criticism and self-examination going on. What about the Democrats'?


Anonymous said...

It's almost like ol' Nooners is saying "NO FAIR! Why do WE have to sit in the corner and think about what we've done and THEY DON'T!"

Hey twit, it's because, as that famous tweet said, your party is made up of blood-gargling pscyhopaths.

Also, too, the Democrats, for all their faults, mostly saw Iraq for the fuckup it was within far less than a goddamn decade. Remember when the overwhelming favorite for the 08 nomination lost to a Kenyan Socialist largely because she voted for that atrocity?

But an accurate recounting of the situation wouldn't fit the fake centrist formula, so...we get this word vomit instead.

Hey Peggy, what premonitions are you getting from reading the yard signs in your neighborhood lately? The ones that predict ROMNEY VICTORY must be gone by now.

steeve said...

A liberal is someone who tries to solve unsolved problems. A conservative is someone who tries not to solve unsolved problems. A true centrist is someone who accepts the solutions to solved problems.

Health care is a solved problem. Single payer.
Taxes are a solved problem. 70% top marginal rate.
The economy is a solved problem. Fiscal stimulus in liquidity traps.

There are so many solved problems that it's hard to find a liberal anymore.

Anonymous said...

Free Bradley Manning!

Anonymous said...

'man is not a rational animal. man is a rationalizing animal.'

-- robert anson heinlein

clem said...

the only way beltway pundits could be useful: grind them up for hamburger and save a cow.

Yastreblyansky said...

Could Noonan link me up to some of that Republican self-criticism and self-examination? I seem to have missed it.

I'm in love with this idea of Honest Centrism--Ta-Nehisi as a beautiful example of the centrist--we're all Moderates now--I wonder if it could be worked up into a formal position, with detailed policy recommendations (as moderates we insist that no woman can be forced to have an abortion, that heroin should remain controlled when marijuana is legalized, that health insurance companies have a right to try to make a profit as they do in Germany, etc.) and a correspondingly scathing attack on the fake moderates who want to destroy Social Security and labor unions and so forth for the soft-voiced fascists they actually are.