Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Passion of the Moderate

Moderate is a loaded word just now. It means "being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme." It also means "Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion." It also means "of limited or average quality; mediocre."

Conservatives are naturally trying to sell the Lamont Lieberman contest as one between a radical (Lamont) and a moderate (Lieberman). Presumably they are referring to Lieberman's opposition to extreme views, not his mediocrity. Bill Wetzel, writing at World News Trust, points out the essential dishonesty at the center of this argument.
The truth is, Lamont does not sound all that much different than Lieberman on most issues. He is not even all that progressive on many issues. For example, he does not advocate universal health care. Yet we are led to believe, due to one issue, that Lamont is somehow less reasonable than Joe Lieberman.
All well and good. It can't be said enough that Republicans are talking crap when they try to paint Lamont as some wild eyed firebreather.

That said, Wetzels article goes off the rails as he goes on. The problem is that first definition of moderate. Almost everybody basically thinks of themselves as "being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme." Rush Limbaugh and Donald Rumsfeld both think of themselves as within reasonable limits - so does Noam Chomsky. And so does Wetzel - so he ends his piece with a bit wider shot than perhaps he intended.

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