The Rump Left: Proudly Half-Assed
[Cross-posted on AmbivaBlog]
The Radical Centrist muses over why the Left is so much more intolerant of centrists than the Right, as he welcomes a new member of that beleaguered species, the center-left, to the blogosphere -- a group blog with the appropriately awkward name of Donklephant. (By the way, Donklephant has the best post I've seen on the murder of journalist Steven Vincent in Basra.) Quoting Michael J. Totten's report on the Left blogosphere's savaging of Donklephant, The Radical Centrist uses a pungent metaphor:
We certainly do need to see some former and current Democrats openly speaking as centrist, in the same way we need to hear from the moderate Muslims. The extremists are getting way too much air time. . . .The unbalanced Republicanism of our government right now may be due to the Left's intransigence, bordering on irrelevance. A one-legged person may be lame, but can at least get around with a crutch. A leg that hops off by itself may have a leg to stand on, but what does it stand for?
That the Left seems the more intolerant of centrist[s] is because at the moment, the Left is intolerant of everyone. They have become dangerously paranoid and it shows. The Right has been abusing its part of the center for decades, so the level of rancor has mellowed a bit. The conservatives also have been winning lately, with the help of centrists, so things are a bit easier on that flank. I can personally attest . . . that conservatives who are very supporting of former liberals becoming centrist, have a very different response to centrist leanings within the Republican ranks. All in all, though, we've been trading barbs for all my adult life and have evolved a more comfortable relationship.
I've been waiting for the sensible Democrats to show up and be counted. . . . but the more vocal Democrats these days are unable to see any nuance in their opponents . . .
(Hat tip: CommonSenseDesk.)
UPDATE: David Schraub of The Debate Link, a student at Carleton College in Northfield, MN (he calls it the "best college you've never heard of," but I've heard of it; my cousin went there in the '60s, and loved it), gently takes issue:
I think what is obviously true is that the left is more tolerant of rightwingers turned centrist (for example, Andrew Sullivan and John Cole) than they are of liberals who appear to be drifting off to the center (for example, the DLC). For example, I've seen The Daily Kos link approvingly to John Cole on several occasions, while bashing the DLC on, well, more than several occasions (despite the fact that the DLC is probably more liberal than Mr. Cole). The reverse is also true--Republican partisans are far more kind [to] supposed moderate Democrats than they are to moderate Republicans. This makes perfect sense, after all: we like people who seem to be moving in our direction, and are upset with those who appear to be moving away from us. But I don't see any partisan slant to the phenomen[on].Having said that, he goes on to say he thinks more Democrats than Republicans are tolerant of centrists:
[W]hile I've seen bona fide liberals praising Bush (for specific policies, of course) on several occasions, I have yet to see any comparable praise from a mainline Republican commentator of a mainline Democrat. The moderate wing of the Democratic party is far more powerful than [its] equivalent within the Republicans (DLC stomps Rockefeller Republicans). How else do you explain pro-life Harry Reid (and his predecessor for that matter, Tom Daschle)? Neither of them are all that liberal, objectively. Nancy Pelosi certainly is, but Steny Hoyer isn't. What you have for Democrats seems to be a fair mix between the left and center of the party. The big Republicans in congress, by contrast, are Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt, Rick Santorum, Jon Kyl, and Bill Frist--all toward the right edge of the party . . . Moderate Republicans never even see the light of leadership day.A post well worth reading.