Liberal newspaper people are so predictable when it comes to internal party fights. If it’s inside the Republican Party, it’s the conservative Republicans who are wrong. If inside the Democratic Party, it’s the conservative Democrats who are wrong.
The Washington Post recently gave us a case study in this slanted worldview. On December 14, they splashed across the front page an article by reporter Michael Leahy on an obscure California Republican assemblyman named Anthony Adams. The charge: he betrayed his no-new-taxes vow and supported a $12 billion tax increase. The Post analysis: Adams was savaged by the "toxic infighting" of nasty conservatives, who moved (unsuccessfully) to recall him from office.
As Gov. Bobby Jindal began to offer a Republican response, it became apparent that he would be no match with Barack Obama in the soaring-oratory department. The Republicans really should have tried a gimmick instead. Perhaps Jindal could have simply walked on and said, "Today, the president held what he called a fiscal responsibility summit." He could afford a wide smile at that point, knowing his audience had erupted in laughter.
Honestly, now: Are we quite ready finally to declare the Era of Obama As Fiscally Conservative is over? Last year, Republicans warned that Barack Obama was ultraliberal – a socialist, in fact – but the media handlers typically presented this as a conservative smear. Instead, they painted Obama as an aspiring moderate-Republican deficit reducer. Take New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt last August: "Obama’s aides optimistically insist he will reduce it [the deficit], thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative."
The top-left corner of the Saturday Washington Post carried the decidedly inaccurate headline "For Obama Cabinet, A Team of Moderates." Reporter Alec MacGillis asserted that Obama finished assembling "a team full of outsize personalities with overlapping jurisdictions and nominees who are known more for pragmatism than for strong leanings on the issues they will oversee." Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle, no strong liberal leanings?
Naming Rep. Hilda Solis (lifetime American Conservative Union voting score: a tiny 2) to the Labor spot wasn’t moderate: "the daughter of a union family who has a strongly pro-labor voting record, came as a relief to some liberals who had grown slightly anxious about Obama's commitment to organized labor's agenda....But many of Obama's other picks reflect his apparent preference for practical-minded centrists who have straddled big policy debates rather than staking out the strongest pro-reform positions."
Liberals have "the strongest pro-reform positions." Can't a centrist be a reformer? The Post story stars former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner warning about all this pragmatism as a potential problem: