Beltway media villager conventional wisdom and the mythical moderate

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

So we are treated today to yet another instalment of Beltway media villager conventional wisdom bemoaning the loss of the mythical moderate — the "moderate" who exists solely by virtue of how the Beltway media villager conventional wisdom chooses to define "moderate." Today's version is by AP (All Propganda) reporter Alan Fram, Fewer moderates in next Congress.

For Democrats, a "moderate" is defined as a pro-Wall Street, anti-tax, fiscally conservative Democrat who regularly votes with Republicans in Congress. In other words, Republican-Lite.

Mr. Fram identifies these Democrats as "moderates": Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Ben Nelson of
Nebraska, Jim Webb of Virginia, and
independent Joe Lieberman. These senators are center-right on fiscal and tax issues, but solid Democrats on social issues.

The modern-day Tea-Publicans are radical extremists. As I have said many times, this is not your father's GOP. The "Party of Lincoln" is a distant fading memory. So how exactly does Beltway media villager conventional wisdom define a "moderate" Republican from among these radical extremists?

Mr. Fram does not say. But Mr. Fram does identify these Republicans as "moderates": Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Really? I am curious, Mr. Fram. How many times do these Republicans of which you speak have to vote with Democrats to meet your Beltway media villager conventional wisdom definition of a "moderate" Republican? Once? Twice? And does this really constitute a "moderate," or an opportunist who may have cut a deal? Or is this just a convenient way for Beltway media villagers like yourself to redefine far-right conservatives as the new "moderate," moving the fulcrum on the balance scale ever farther to the right?

And just how effective were these moderates that you bemoan the loss of in brokering a compromise, Mr. Fram? Here are the numbers and pertinent information that you failed to mention in your paen to the mythical moderate.

Jon Perr posted this piece at Daily Kos back in September. Who killed Washington? Republicans caught red-handed:

JustSayNo

* * *

But for inquiring minds who want to know which party really killed
Washington, the numbers don't lie.  From its record-setting use of the
filibuster and its united front against Obama's legislative agenda to
blocking judicial nominees and its unprecedented (and repeated) threats
to trigger a U.S. default, the most conservative Congress in over 100 years stopped Washington dead in its tracks. But with the presidential race tied, the public evenly split in its Congressional preference and the media loathe to acknowledge the reality of "asymmetric polarization," the GOP may get away with its crime.

Even before Barack Obama took the oath office,
Republicans leaders, conservative think-tanks and right-wing pundits
were calling for total obstruction of the new president's agenda.

* * *

On the night of Barack Obama's inauguration
in January 2009 (a month during which we later learned America lost
820,000 jobs), 15 top Republicans including Paul Ryan schemed in private
on the night of Obama's inauguration to "challenge them on every single
bill and challenge them on every single campaign."

As the chart above shows, that's exactly what came to pass.

Time after time, President Obama could count the votes he received
from Congressional Republicans on the fingers (usually the middle one)
of one hand.
The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance
Program (S-CHIP)
to four million more American kids earned the backing of a whopping
eight GOP Senators. (One of them, Arlen Specter, later became a
Democrat.) Badly needed Wall Street reform eventually overcame GOP
filibusters to pass with the support of just three Republicans in the House and Senate, respectively. It took 50 days for President Obama to get past Republican filibusters of extended unemployment benefits and the Small Business Jobs Act. As for the DISCLOSE Act,
legislation designed to limit the torrent of secret campaign cash
unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, in September
Republican Senators prevented it from ever coming to a vote.

The one-way street that is bipartisanship in Washington was most clearly
on display during each party's attempts to pass tax cuts and economic
stimulus . . .

OneWayStreet

* * *

But if Barack Obama's legislative agenda ran into endless Republican obstacles in Congress, his judicial nominees hit a brick wall.  The same Republicans who decried the judicial filibuster and demanded an "up or down vote" for President Bush's selections to the federal bench have stymied Obama's choices at a record rate.

* * *

[T]he Republicans of the 110th Congress were just getting warmed up.  The
Senate GOP hadn't merely shattered the previous records for filibusters.
 As McClatchy reported in February 2010,
the Republicans of the 111th Congress vowed to block virtually
everything, counting on voters to blame Democrats for the GOP's own
roadblocks
.  And as McClatchy explained
earlier this year, thanks to the Republicans' record-breaking use of
the filibuster, "Congress isn't just stuck in partisan and ideological
gridlock: It's broken."

* * *

Now, as the Washington Post highlighted last week, total obstructionism is the new normal for Republicans.

FillibusterChart

* * *

James Fallows lamented that this represents "a conservative coup d'état."

A conservative coup, indeed.  Studies by political science professors Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal
show Republicans are responsible for the hyper-polarization of
Congress
.  The GOP moved so far to the right that the House is now the most conservative it has been in the last 133 years.

As It's Even Worse Than It Looks co-author Norm Ornstein concluded:

"When you look at the data, including voting records … the
Democrats have moved left, to probably their own 25 yard line.
President Obama's probably around the 40.  The Republicans have moved
behind their own goal post."

* * *

The result isn't just what Dana Milbank mocked as "our do-almost-nothing Congress." The institution is now wildly unpopular, with approval rating consistently under 20 percent. Despite the GOP"s strangling of Capitol Hill, voters remain split
on the generic Congressional ballot. As for the media standing over the
still warm body of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans must be
complicit
. As an incredulous Greg Sargent put it in May, "Only one party's to blame? Don't tell the Sunday shows."

For his part, Ornstein concluded the Republicans' crime has gone
unpunished, correctly noting that "there hasn't been a price to pay for
obstruction for obstruction's sake." To put it another way, the
Republican Party as promised killed Washington. And yet, reporters are
still asking who's responsible.
 Which means that over three years after
Republicans plotted to smother the Obama presidency, they are still
getting away with murder.

A political party that has vowed to destroy government and that rejects compromise as a litmus test of its political ideology can in no way be described as "moderate," Mr. Fram. Your flawed analysis attempts to create a false equivalency — both sides are at fault — "we need more moderates" in the middle you say, mythical moderates who simply do not exist in the radical extremist Tea-Publican Party.

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