As the Republican tidal wave of 2010 was building, the media was desperately attempting to stifle it by portraying their slate of candidates as radical right-wingers.
I've talked before about the desire of the left to realign the political spectrum. Through their allies in academia and the media, they attempt to define what is left as center, what is center as right, and what is right as radical. From MSNBC to the pages of the NY Times to CNN, liberal journalists lamented the loss of the "Republican moderates."
This talk has continued even after the country showed their contentment with such "radical right-wing" politicians by electing them in droves. Chris Matthews recently suggested that the Republicans were moving into an era where if you weren't far right, you weren't "right enough." Of course, if Matthews really believed that this was a bad political move for the Republicans, he wouldn't be criticizing it (unless you believe that Chris is worried about getting Republicans elected to office).
I suppose you could make the argument that they are just worried about the polarization of American politics. That's silly, but it would at least make them look less overtly biased. But such a defense isn't plausible. Why? Because there's virtually no talk whatsoever about the emerging extinction of "moderate Democrats."
At this point, that seems to be the dominant trend:
Last month, Sen. Joseph Lieberman announced he wouldn't seek re-election. He lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut in 2006 because of his support of the Iraq war, but won in November as an independent.
The irony was that the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice president was re-elected largely by Republicans who spurned their party's little-known nominee. But Republicans seem likely to field a stronger candidate in 2012, leaving Lieberman little room in the middle.
Then last week, Rep. Jane Harman announced she would resign soon to become head of Washington's Woodrow Wilson Center. Harman, who voted for the Iraq war resolution and supported robust foreign and defense policies, was conspicuously passed over by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee when Democrats won control of the House in 2006.
It's not just Harman and Lieberman:
Last week also saw the announcement that the Democratic Leadership Council would close its doors, after the retirement of its longtime president, Al From, in 2009. From, an aide to Louisiana Rep. Gillis Long, founded the DLC in 1985 in the wake of Ronald Reagan's two victories, in which he won the electoral vote by 1,014 to 62.
The DLC championed policies, notably welfare reform, intended not to expand government but to make it work better. It gave early national prominence to a young governor of Arkansas, of whom From used to say, "Clinton really gets it." .
But over the last decade, satisfaction with the political successes of Clinton-type governance were replaced by rage against the works and deeds of George W. Bush. That rage seemed vindicated when Democrats won congressional majorities in 2006 and when Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 with a larger percentage of the popular vote than any Democratic nominee except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
The constituencies targeted by DLC strategists -- Southern whites, urban ethnics, blue collar workers -- are growing or are not shrinking as much, and at least in 2010 they voted heavily Republican. It's not so clear that Democrats can win without them.
So where are the long faces and the hand-wringing concern from all the media types about the loss of the moderate Democrats?