Patterico's Pontifications


Hillary the “Centrist”

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 3:00 pm

Ronald Brownstein’s front-page article about Hillary Clinton in this morning’s Los Angeles Times is titled Clinton’s New Job: Defining the Center. I got your definition right here, Hillary: anything to the right of you.

It’s notable how unquestioningly the paper accepts the idea that Hillary is now truly a centrist. In a statement that could have been written by one of her campaign staff, the paper says:

The appointment solidified the identification of Clinton — once considered a champion of the party’s left — with the centrist movement that helped propel her husband to the White House in 1992.

Yup. She may once have been considered a champion of the left, but her identification as a centrist is now solidified.

Thought experiment: can you imagine the L.A. Times being so uncritical of a Republican candidate’s efforts to portray himself as a centrist? For example, back in 2000, when George W. Bush ran for office as a center-right candidate, did Ron Brownstein praise Bush as someone whose identification as a centrist had been “solidified”?

Time to check the archives. Turns out that in a July 31, 2000 news analysis about Presidential candidate George W. Bush (no Web link available), Brownstein acknowledged some centrist positions Bush had taken — but hastened to note that his fundamental positions were Republican to the core:

Compared with the antigovernment fervor of the GOP Congress in 1995 and 1996, Bush constitutes a clear step toward the center. He explicitly separated himself from the revolutionary generation of conservatives last year when he derided “the destructive mind-set . . . that if government would only get out of our way, all of our problems would be solved.” He is proposing an enhanced and creative federal role in leveraging education reform and modest but measurable federal initiatives to help working-poor families buy homes, purchase health insurance and accumulate financial assets. He’s also notably moderated the GOP tone on controversies with a racial tinge–such as affirmative action and immigration.

But on the issues of greatest concern to the Republican base, Bush’s views are entirely in the conservative mainstream. In his support for tax cuts, missile defense, school vouchers and partial privatization of Social Security–and his opposition to legal abortion and most gun control–Bush reaffirms rather than redirects the GOP consensus. Nothing in Bush’s agenda challenges his party’s dominant ideology as fundamentally as Clinton did with his support for welfare reform or later the balanced budget and paying off the national debt. As leading conservative strategist Grover Norquist recently said of Bush: “On everybody’s central issue within the Reagan coalition, he’s there.”

So when Bush was the candidate, Brownstein wasn’t content to label Bush as a centrist based on a left-leaning initiative or two. Rather, Brownstein properly took a hard look at Bush’s core principles and asked whether they diverged from those of his party. While Brownstein considered Bush a step “toward the center,” Brownstein’s ultimate conclusion was that Bush fundamentally agreed with his party on the central issues important to Republicans.

Applying the same standard, Hillary must really be taking on her party in some fundamental way for Brownstein to fawn over her allegedly centrist credentials as “solidified.” I eagerly read the article to see where Hillary has “challeng[ed her] party’s dominant ideology” in a fundamental way. But the article offers only one specific example: her “calling for increased border security.”

Wow. She really is taking on her party! She may once have been seen as a champion of the left, but with a call for increased border security, her position as a centrist is solidified. I needn’t worry any longer that Hillary will try to nationalize health care, raise taxes through the roof, scrap missile defense, or push a radical pro-abortion agenda in the courts. I can rest easy, knowing that Ronald Brownstein has declared Hillary’s leftist leanings a thing of the past.

That certainly puts me at ease. How about you?

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus calls it the “Cheap Date Syndrome”:

And if reporters are willing to give Hillary credit for being “downright conservative” just because she uses the phrase “old fashioned values”–well, reporters are cheap dates!

I’d always thought this Cheap Date Syndrome helped Hillary mainly with the Left, which loves Hillary so much it could conceivably be bought off with a bit of Bush-bashing that covers a dramatic Hillary shift to the right. But it’s now also clear that her shift to the right doesn’t have to be that dramatic, because the equally Cheap Date press is ready to interpret even the subtlest, most insubstantial shading as part of Hillary’s New Moderation. She can get credit for centrism without having to actually take too many positions that the left would disagree with (and hold against any another politician).

Ron Brownstein is a cheap date.

4 Responses to “Hillary the “Centrist””

  1. Regarding the so-called partial privatization of Social Security, have you ever noticed how unoffended most conservatives are when plans to partially privatize Social Security are described as partial privatization of Social Security?

    Cf. liberals, and abortions involving partially born fetuses.

    Xrlq (e2c3ae)

  2. Hillary has dooped both sides of the political spectrum. The moderate left and the middle right are acquiescing because her poll numbers are up.

    However, she has caused the far left to dish on her for the DLC speech and the far right can’t stand her. She knows she can’t win a national election with far left support only. So, her only chance is the middle.

    The MSM knows this and their only hope is to try to convince the people that Hillary is a centrist.

    I’m not fooled, but as I stated above some are.

    Hillary is a die-hard liberal and will always be a die-hard liberal.

    John Eyster (eb9269)

  3. Hillary isn’t anywhere near the center, she’s no moderate either, she isn’t even really a liberal at all. She’s an egomaniacal socialist who will say and do anything to get herself into power. If Republicans underestimate Hillary, she will win the White House, make no mistake about that.

    LAT is working her side of the campaign and so will all the other MSM fellow travelers.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  4. […] Whee! It’s another Big Media portrayal of Hillary-as-centrist. Before it was the L.A. Times (see here and here). Today it’s the Washington Post. This one is actually a little more nuanced than the L.A. Times was, but it still basically maintains the fiction that, as the headline puts it, she is “A Politician Not Easily Defined.” […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » More Hillary-As-Centrist (421107)

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