The Agenda

Jay Cost on E.J. Dionne

On a number of occasions, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne has expressed his disappointment concerning the extremism that he maintains has taken over the GOP, and he’s making that case again in his most recent column on the Delaware primary. Because Dionne has praised Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the living American politician I find most objectionable, as a sensible moderate, I sense that I would fit comfortably in the extremist category, as would anywhere from a third to 42 percent of Americans.

Jay Cost, a recent addition to The Weekly Standard, has written a worthwhile reply, which adds much-needed historical and political context. He ends his reply with the following:


Dionne’s suggestion that polarization has not affected congressional Democrats is empirically incorrect.  In fact, House liberals now have more power in the congressional Democratic party than they’ve enjoyed for decades.  And what of the moderate congressional Democrats?  Dozens of them could regularly be found voting with those “extreme” Republicans on the big issues in the 111th House, as Democratic leaders were persistently more concerned with passing the most liberal bills possible then with governing from the center, a place they probably only know of from what they’ve read in books.  And I hasten to add that the president’s home district, IL-1, is one of the most Democratic in the country, and his wholly one-sided view of bipartisanship seems to reflect that.

Is it any surprise that a near record of Americans say the Democratic party is now “too liberal?”  So, maybe we can be spared the lectures about how the GOP is too conservative, eh?

This strikes me as a fair characterization of the state of play, but of course there’s room for disagreement.


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