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The Liberal Noise Machine
Posted by: Jon Henke on Saturday, April 01, 2006

I think the Left side of the blogosphere needs to spend less time cranking the noise machine. The New York Times does a news story on the impact of the internet on politics, in the course of which Adam Nagourney writes that bloggers have "been openly critical of such moderate Democrats as Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut". In response, this absurd criticism from AmericaBlog is making the rounds...
I'll leave you again with Nagourney's ridiculous notion that Joe Lieberman is a moderate Democrat. A moderate Democrat. So Nagourney thinks that the majority of Democrats are immoderate, since almost every Democrat in the Senate is to the left of Joe Lieberman?
Well, if almost every Democrat in the Senate is to the Left of Joe Lieberman, and (as is true) almost every Republican is to the Right of Lieberman, then, yes, that makes Joe Lieberman a de facto moderate.

Don't take my word for it, either. Back in 2004, when liberals were taking issue with the misleading claim that John Kerry was the "most liberal senator", AmericaBlog cited the National Journal rankings as evidence that Kerry was far from the most liberal. Since NJ is a credible source, let's look at the most recent rankings.
Lieberman, Joe, D-Conn. — 65.7 [liberal] — 34.3 [conservative]
Those scores mean, respectively, that Lieberman is more liberal than 65.7% of the Senate and more conservative than 34.3% of the Senate. There were 7 Democrats who ranked "more conservative" than Joe Lieberman.

On the 0-100 scale, 3 Republicans were more than 50% liberal, with Lincoln Chafee being the most liberal at 59.2%. Presumably, one could call at least those Republicans "moderates". Yet, Joe Lieberman was to their Left.

Despite the empirical evidence to the contrary, this absurd criticism seems to be getting quite a lot of echoes from others in the Left Wing noise/narrative machine. Ironically, in between complaining that Lieberman is insufficiently liberal, they also manage to take offense at Nagourney's notion that bloggers "have tugged the party consistently to the left".

Quod erat demonstrandum.
 
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if almost every Democrat in the Senate is to the Left of Joe Lieberman, and (as is true) almost every Republican is to the Right of Lieberman, then, yes, that makes Joe Lieberman a de facto moderate.
Only if you define "moderate" relative to people (and only people in their immediate peer group) rather than to principles. How moderate is the median member of Iran’s legislature? By your definition, perfectly so. By mine, not at all. The US Senate has shifted quite a bit to the right of moderation.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
Funny, I think the Senate has shifted quite a lot to the liberal side. To wit: 20 years ago, would the Senate have even considered gay marriage, the Medicare drug bill, or nearly doubling the size of the Dept of Education with the NCLB? No.

In politics, though, moderate is precisely relative to the peer group in question. That’s why we refer to Iranian "moderates", even though they wouldn’t be tolerated in decent company in the Western world. That’s why we call people like Lincoln Chafee and Olympia Snowe "moderates", even though they are to the right of Lieberman.

One of the central purposes of a "noise machine" is to re-frame the debate in terms conducive to one’s own ends. In this case, Democrats are anxious to redefine "moderate" such that people have to be farther left to earn the nomenclature. It’s a nice try, but facts are what they are.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The problem arises with the definition of moderate. If someone has very left wing views on most issues but a conservative view or two on a major issue then they are called a moderate. A real Moderate, to me would be someone like Chafee, all "wet"
and with no strong views of anything except getting reelected.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
In politics, though, moderate is precisely relative to the peer group in question. That’s why we refer to Iranian "moderates", even though they wouldn’t be tolerated in decent company in the Western world.
Ditto Lieberman, in much of the Western world. Your example only illustrates the problem. What we call an Iranian "moderate" is someone who is actually pretty far on the pro-Western side of their spectrum, far from the median for that peer group and therefore not moderate according to the definition you’re pushing. It seems like you know the proper definition but are unwilling to apply it to Lieberman.
One of the central purposes of a "noise machine" is to re-frame the debate in terms conducive to one’s own ends.
Indeed; see above. That’s why Democrats are anxious to resist such re-framing.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
What we call an Iranian "moderate" is someone who is actually pretty far on the pro-Western side of their spectrum, far from the median for that peer group and therefore not moderate according to the definition you’re pushing. It seems like you know the proper definition but are unwilling to apply it to Lieberman.
It depends on how the comparison is being made.

It makes more sense to compare them to those with whom they interact and the institution where they wield their power. Everyone is using the same spectrum and metric then.

Among those in the Senate, Lieberman is clearly a moderate as Jon points out.

Claiming them to be moderate or anything else outside that group has no real meaning.

Perhaps if compared to your idea of a political spectrum (whatever that is), he falls well to the liberal side. But other than to you, the metric has no meaning.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/

 
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