Another thing that angers ME on this topic is the use (intentional by conservatives, well-intentioned but equally incorrect by liberals) of the term "centrist" or "moderate" to describe the reason behind progressives' discontent with people like Lieberman, Cuellar, Emanuel, Bob Casey, and Hillary Clinton, and faux-centrist organizations like the DLC and the DCCC.
Most of us who vigorously oppose those people's ascendancy isn't based on their specific policies so much as on their accommodationism. For example, Hillary almost always votes with the party, and is strong on the environment, health care, etc. -- but she attended Fox News' anniversary party, and will be feted at a fundraiser thrown by Rupert Murdoch in July; she's asking her donors not to contribute to any other potential Presidential candidates, using Soros' money to create but monopolize a voter-info database that should be available to all Democrats through the DNC, and manipulating backroom politics to rig primaries in favor of her preferred candidates (like Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, and Tami Duckworth, effectively shutting Democratic voters out of the process. She's plenty progressive on the Senate floor, but she's still one of the bad guys. Similarly, Lieberman isn't bad because he sometimes votes more conservatively than I'd like; he's a bad guy because he goes out of his way to provide Bush with bipartisan cover. Obama is a wonderful candidate, but he's
On the primary-rigging issue, an email I got a while back from Pennacchio's campaign in Pennsylvania, which Hillary and Obama are undercutting, puts it perfectly:
Mrs. Clinton is a creature of the common wisdom of her Party, which is defined by centrism, triangulation, and, in our view, capitulation. Mr. Casey is the poster boy for all of these tactics, especially when you've moved the notion of the center a hundred yards to the right. Mrs. Clinton gave money for the same reasons any Democrat has given money to Bob Casey: he's the Party's choice to run against Rick Santorum and Rick Santorum must be defeated. We see a flaw in that logic, most notably in the fact that the Party as embodied by its voting citizens has not yet spoken on this matter. To presume their choice, to dictate it, is the sort of hubris we see chipping away at the Republicans right now.
Given the choice between a strong team player who understands that Bush really IS the enemy but who on policy is a moderate, or a manipulating, scheming, self-loyal rather than party-loyal triangulationist who usually votes liberally but leaves the reservation precisely when unity is needed (as on the Alito nomination) -- damn it, I'll take the moderate-voting good Democrat over the liberal-voting Republican enabler every time.
So to say we oppose "centrist" or "moderates" is too simplistic. We oppose Vichys and cowards. It's not about purity, but about guts: like real French patriots in WWII, we'd rather eat sauerbraten and drink Liebfraumilch with German-accented but vigorous resistance fighters than eat brie and drink Bordeaux with perfectly-credentialled Parisian collaborationists. Not only is it more pleasant, but it's actually a hell of a lot more likely to succeed than "centrism" (really "triangulationism") is (the DLC strategy has NEVER won 51% of a Presidential vote, lost us the Congress in '94, and has been unable to win it back).
But few people understand the distinction, and when we go after the Vichy, they accuse us of going after the French.