Monday, January 07, 2008

classic Washington press myopia

Wow, a second article in a week perfectly crystallizing the skewed, cloudy vision of the Washington press corps. This one from the Washington Post:
Obama is promising something very different, what skeptics call an oxymoron: sweeping bipartisan change.
In Obama's first years in the Senate, he showed little interest in the middle, where moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats coalesce, often to thwart their leadership.

In 2006, he won a 95 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal rating group, and a 93 percent rating from the AFL-CIO. In 2005, both groups gave him ratings of 100 percent. In contrast, the American Conservative Union ranked him at 8 percent, the same figure awarded to Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), two unapologetic liberals.

This is precisely what is wrong with our punditocracy, and in a way, even the political spectrum in which we mold all political ideas.

To be "bipartisan" or "post-partisan" is not to become part of the squishy center. "Bipartisan" and "centrist" are the same thing. To be centrist is to fall into the comfortable fallacy that being in the middle is being right, simply because one is in the middle and not on one of the poles.

Being bipartisan or post-partisan doesn't mean selling out your ideals. It simply means understanding that people who disagree with you are not sub-human or evil or traitors or stupid and that, at the end of the day, we all have to live with each other, and arguing your case and negotiating on that assumption. It's about building working coalitions from among all parties according to the particular issue being discussed.

This is not a ground-breaking idea. It's not rocket science. Yet the Washington Post is incapable of comprehending an end to gridlock that doesn't begin and end with "the political center" saving us from "the fringe."

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