From the Downfalls of Centrist Labeling Department: An MRC colleague E-mails his amazement at the Washington Post's World News section: "The head of China is a middle-of-the-roader according to Sunday’s Post. I guess a middle-of-the-road totalitarian dictator."
The headline to Edward Cody's piece on Hu Jintao and the current Communist Party's National Congress was "Hu Set for Second Term at China's Helm: Political Middle-of-the-Roader Has Limited Reform Efforts to Economic Sphere." The story goes from page A-20 across to page A-21, where the headline is "Hu Poised for Five More Years Steering China on Centrist Track."
Using the same ideological labels for communist countries that you try to use in Western democracies is inherently frustrating. It's not like Hu Jintao is leading China on a Clinton-style Third Way corporate-liberal program, where Jesse Jackson would be denouncing his allies in "Communists for the Leisure Class."
The same addled thing happened during the Soviet era, especially as the U.S.S.R. crumbled, and the biggest communist hard-liners were, you guessed it, the "right wing."