Not crying.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has three or four decent thoughtful posts ruminating in his brain. But he is lazy apparently. Last night (prime time for blogging), he opted to watch recorded sit-coms on the old Tivo. Tonight he knows he’ll be watching the Caps/Pens game.

Your Maximum Leader is becoming (if he hasn’t already become) a lackadasical blogger… Sad really…


Your Maximum Leader reads that Senator Arlen Specter’s seniority has been stripped. Apparently ole Arlen (Rat - Pennsylvania) was promised that he could keep his seniority by Harry Reid (Arsehole - Nevada) when Arlen decided to “rat” (as Winston Churchill called it). The Democrats in the Senate decided that Harry’s promise wasn’t worth squat and they voted to put Arlen at the back of the class.

One wonders if Arlen is now considering “re-rating” (again in the words of Winston Churchill).

Frankly, your Maximum Leader is surprised at this move by the Democrats. If they had hoped to woo Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins this move might put the kybosh on that. What is the benefit of switching if you lose seniority in a body in which seniority is everything?

Your Maximum Leader hasn’t weighed in on Arlen’s rat-move. All in all your Maximum Leader is not pleased to see Specter go. This isn’t out of any love of Arlen Specter. It is a tactical move in your Maximum Leader’s mind. Sure you couldn’t rely on Specter if you were a Republican for many more partisan agenda items. In the final analysis it is better to have the extra hand on deck if you can get some use out him than not to have him on deck at all. It is numbers. With Specter holding on the “R” after his name you made the Dems work for him. Now with the “D” after his name the Republicans have to work for his vote.

This leads to a larger question about ideological purity that seems to drive many of your Maximum Leader’s fellow travellers. Your Maximum Leader isn’t as concerned about ideological purity as many others are. As Lee Atwater once told your Maximum Leader, “The Republicans could run Bozo the Clown and the Democrats could run Joseph Stalin and each one would be guaranteed to get about 40% of the vote. You are after 11% of the middle.” This little insight has always tempered your Maximum Leader’s view of ideological purity in both major parties in America.

Let us just admit that there are hard-core Republicans and hard-core Democrats. For the people in these groups no amount of argument or cajoling will change their mind. (To continue to channel Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is someone who won’t change his mind and can’t change the subject.”) The job of the “wings” of the parties is to convince a portion of the middle to side with them. This middle is pretty flexible and transient. They aren’t going to “stick with” one side or the other for very long. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that you can permenantly move enough people one side or the other to create a “permenant majority.” History tends to bear out this belief. The worm turns. It always turns.

This leads us back to Arlen Specter (and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe). There is a role for “moderate Republicans” in the Republican party. There is also a role for “moderate Democrats” in the Democratic party. (There are noticably few “moderate Democrats” in the Senate, but there are a few in the House. There used to be many more 15-20 years ago…) The role of these “moderates” is clear. It is to moderate political excess on both sides. Both sides can be guilty of excesses. You need the soft middle to absorb some of that excess. Without the soft squishy middle you get dramatic sea-changes. These are generally bad all around. Your Maximum Leader believes that we are in a predominantly bad sea-change right now. Some of your Maximum Leader’s more liberal friends believe that the Reagan years were a predominantly bad sea-change (a claim with which your Maximum Leader disagrees). Having a few moderates on your side makes the wishy-washy center a little more comfortable siding with your side (for the time you’ll have them). Moderates are never the driving force behind a party. Neither are they the idea people of a party. Having a few moderates doesn’t make the Republicans less conservative on the balance or the Democrats less liberal. It makes them a little more friendly.

Carry on.

1 Comment »
Polymath said:

As long as moderates are taken in moderation…

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