Barack Oba-moderate?

It's one of the great MSM rituals of presidential politics: the labeling of leading Dems as "moderates" or "centrists." Gail Collins honors the tradition in her New York Times column of today. Now it's true that Collins ostensibly speaks more of Obama's tone than of his politics. But, ultimately, as you'll see, she melds the two to portray a thoroughly moderate man. We'll do a reality check, but first let's look at the excerpt from Collins's column [emphasis added]:

Barack Obama turns out to have a positive genius for making moderation sound exciting and is perhaps the only politician in American history who can get a crowd all worked up with a call to politeness. “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said in his New Hampshire farewell, drawing a roar of approval.

In a country where the spoils go to the loudest shrieker, this is absolutely revolutionary and very important. Most Americans want a moderate government, but nobody has ever before been able to make moderate seem interesting, let alone sexy. (Remember Joseph Lieberman.)

Again, while she does focus largely on Obama's admittedly moderate tone, she does also write of the prospect of a "moderate government" that he would lead. That would go to his actual substance, his views on the issues. And just what are those views? Well, Collins isn't the first to have attempted to cast Obama as a man of the middle. Newsweek's Richard Wolffe, a frequent Olbermann guest, did the same think back in July, calling Obama a centrist. I wrote about it at the time, so let me dust off that same list of some of the interest group ratings, culled from Project Vote Smart, that Obama has earned over the years.

  • 100% from Planned Parenthood
  • 100% from NARAL
  • 0% from the Illinois Association for Right to Life
  • 0% from Americans for Tax Reform
  • 100% from the NAACP
  • 8% from the American Conservative Union
  • 100% from the NEA [teachers union]
  • 100% from Children's Defense Fund [Hillary's old group]
  • 100% from NOW
  • 88% from the American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • 0% from the Federation for American Immigration Reform
  • 100% from the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees
  • 100% from Americans for Democratic Action [gold-standard of old lefty groups]
  • 0% from NRA
  • 'A' from Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control

See anything particularly moderate there? Note also Collins's analogizing of Obama to Joe Lieberman. The fact is that despite his muscular foreign policy views, the Connecticut senator is a traditional liberal on domestic issues.

Let's try this one: how would the MSM react if a conservative with ratings that were the mirror-image of Obama's tried to present himself as a moderate? Hey, keep the laughing down. It's early.


Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.