Paul Krugman has yet another great column in the New York Times today, ridiculing the assertion that soon-to-be-former Senator Joe Lieberman is either “centrist” or “sensible.” But it was a somewhat tangential paragraph that particularly stood out to me:
Many of those lamenting Mr. Lieberman’s defeat claim that they fear a takeover of our political parties by extremists. But if political polarization were really their main concern, they’d be as exercised about the primary challenge from the right facing Lincoln Chafee as they are about Mr. Lieberman’s woes. In fact, however, the sound of national commentary on the Rhode Island race is that of crickets chirping.
That’s because the establishment backlash to Lieberman’s defeat has never really been about political polarization… it’s about a political establishment fearful for its own survival. Indeed, the only thing truly radical about Ned Lamont is the grassroots path he took to victory.
I guess my question is, when a majority of Americans oppose the war in Iraq, believe it is being mismanaged, and want our troops home as soon as reasonably possible… is it extremist or centrist to agree with them? When 65 to 70 percent of Americans disapprove of President Bush’s job performance, is it extremist or centrist to chastise White House critics as endangering national security and emboldening terrorists?
If you define the center as where the majority of voters reside (and I’m not really sure how else to define it) then it is Lamont who stands firmly in the middle and Lieberman who has wandered to the fringe. That’s why Lamont won the primary, and that’s why he’s the hands down favorite to be the next Senator from Connecticut: because his positions largely represent those of a majority of CT voters.
It’s not that the punditocracy can’t see this obvious fact. It’s that they won’t.