Diversity, New York Times style. “Bipolar America,” the cover feature for the Sunday New York Times Book Review, compiles reviews of three new books on Tea Party-related politics, one reviewed by veteran liberal journalist Michael Kinsley, two others judged by Timothy Noah, veteran liberal journalist for The New Republic.
Noah says Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of the strongly titled Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party: From Eisenhower to the Tea Party, "argues persuasively that Republican moderates remained a powerful, even dominant, political force well into the 1970s." But, Noah argued:
Then came Watergate, which alienated moderate donors in the ’70s; direct-mail campaigns for the Republican Ripon Society, an influential liberal group, soon began losing money. At the same time, wealthy conservatives like Joseph Coors, John Olin and the Koch brothers were stepping up their contributions to conservative causes. With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the party lurched farther right, and modern Republicans became scarcer still.
Today, nearly all political centrists are Democrats.
Kinsley gave Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank qualified approval. In 2004 Frank wrote “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” questioning why conservatives in the heartland were allegedly voting against their economic interests by going Republican. Kinsley called him “the thinking person’s Michael Moore,” but quibbled with Frank’s harsh attacks on President Obama, a man of "courage" who has provided America with so much, like "health care reform."
It seems to me that a Democratic president who gets us health care reform and tough new financial protection for consumers, who guides the economy through its roughest period in 80 years with moderate success (who could do better?), who ends our long war in Iraq and avenges the worst insult to our sovereignty since Pearl Harbor (as his Republican predecessor manifestly failed to do, despite a lot of noise and promises); a president who faced an opposition of really spectacular intransigence and downright meanness; a president who has the self-knowledge and wisdom about Washington to write the passage quoted above, and the courage to publish it: that president deserves a bit more credit from the left than Frank is willing to give him.