ChiTrib: Limbaugh, Cheney 'Far Right'; Maddow, Obama 'Left Leaning'

Monday's Chicago Tribune featured the article "Powell 'still a Republican': Rebutting critics, he criticizes party's far right voices."  The article starts:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Sunday that ideological conservatives, particularly radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, have gained a hold over the Republican Party that risks driving the GOP into an extended exile from power.

Powell cast his warnings in unusually personal terms as he answered recent charges from two champions of the Republican right -- Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney -- that he was no longer a Republican.

"Rush will not get his wish, and Mr. Cheney was misinformed," said Powell, whose resume includes work as military adviser to President Ronald Reagan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush's Cabinet. "I am still a Republican."
Obviously, the "far right voices" referenced in the piece's headline are those of Limbaugh and Cheney.

If Rush Limbaugh is on the far right, surely MSNBC's Rachel Maddow qualifies to be characterized as far left.  Yet only last month, the Tribune carried an article from the Los Angeles Times (another Tribune newspaper) that asked this burning question about Maddow:
Politics, not to mention television, thrives on conflict, but how much of that will there be with a left-leaning host in a time of a left-leaning president?
So Maddow and Obama are merely left-leaning.  That was also used in a June, 2007 Chicago Tribune article titled "Carefully crafting the Barack Obama 'brand.'"  Describing how Obama went about writing "The Audacity of Hope," it notes:
In keeping with the original game plan, staff members spent nights and weekends scouring the chapters as they rolled in, looking for potential political pitfalls -- a vetting committee Obama didn't have when he published his earlier, more provocative memoir.

For instance, when Obama was seeking to name someone as the epitome of left-leaning politics, an aide urged him to use a House member instead of a Senate colleague. So the book names now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), though Obama's voting record is similar to hers.
Clearly, "left leaning" is the description of choice when it comes to liberal extremists.  In a short blurb that appeared last September 12, the Tribune reported:
MSNBC dumped high-maintenance and allegedly left-leaning yakkers Keith Olbermann  and Chris Matthews  from election anchor duties. Some of their critics cheer as they tune back to "Fair and Balanced" Fox News.
Allegedly left-leaning yakkers?  Who does it take, you may ask, to drop the allegedly, Fidel Castro?  As it turns out, not necessarily.  On November 2, the paper's television critic wrote:
In another skit, (actor Ben) Affleck played a scarily intense version of the left-leaning Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."       

And all this time I've considered the real Olbermann to be the scarily intense version.

So now we've been instructed that Obama, Pelosi, Olbermann, Matthews and Maddow aren't liberal extremists as many of us have thought.  They aren't far left voices.  They're just left leaning.  Sort of like the Chicago Tribune.