Friday, May 04, 2007

High Broderism from The Broder himself

David Broder held a chat today on the Washington Post web site. In the very first Q&A he reveals the core of what Atrios has called High Broderism:

Chaska, Minn.: As a political pundit how do you calibrate your perceptions on mainstream America? The reason I ask this is based on your recent columns. My guess is your views (as a lot of the Beltway punditry) is very skewed. Poll after poll validates that American values align with progressive positions on such issues as the Iraq war, abortion, Social Security and even health care. In fact, it's not really the left-wing of the Democratic party's views that are being subverted by the Republican agenda, but mainstream America's views. So why keep insisting on bipartisan compromises when those views don't reflect the wishes of a large majority of Americans? Do we really need to be held hostage to the selfish interest of a minority in this country? Because that is where we are now.

David S. Broder: Good afternoon, everyone. I look forward to spending the next hour with you. This first letter from Minnesota challenges the conventional wisdom by asserting that the country overwhelmingly supports the liberal agenda, both at home and abroad. I have to disagree. I think the country is closely balanced, with a controlling group in the center that rejects extreme positions and seeks practical solutions drawn from the agendas of both liberals and conservatives. Most Americans I meet are not ideologues of any sort; they are practical people seeking practical solutions to real challenges.

How does Broder reconcile his conception of where the political center is with the questioner's reference to polling that suggests America swinging more towards the liberal end of the spectrum? He does it by giving added weight to "a controlling group in the center". If that group happens to be more to the right of the ideological center of America, but also happens to weigh a lot more in importance (at least in the minds of David Broder), then that weight shifts the "center" away from the majority of Americans.

How did that "controlling group in the center" come to have such control in the first place? Part of the reason is because the members of that group are a self-selected elite who then nominate into the group those they find of acceptable political quality. Membership in the "controlling group in the center" won't be offered to just anyone who demonstrates an above average level of influence on American public opinion. Members must also play nicely with those in the "controlling group in the center". No one is allowed in who would suggest that the "controlling group in the center" maybe shouldn't have so much influence.

And it goes without saying that Broder is a member of that "controlling group in the center".

Another question of note:

Minneapolis: Why, in your view, does every member of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate disagree with your characterization of Harry Reid's leadership?

David S. Broder: Since I would never question their motives, I have to assume that they spontaneously and simultaneously chose to express their confidence in their leader on the same day last week. I have a copy of their letter, with all the signatures, and it is gfoing up on my wallo. A semi-historic document to pass on to the grandchildren, as a testament to what a dope their granedfather was. I love it.

Broder lies in his column when he says there are Democratic Senators who don't support Reid (the proof of the lie being the letter from all Democratic Senators saying it isn't true). And what is Broder's response to being caught in this lie? To boast about getting that kind of response and to hold up the letter as a point of pride to show off to the grandkids!

And a two-parter:

Anonymous: Your anti-Reid column was thoroughly unconvincing. It struck me as a rather desperate attempt to maintain your "pox on both their houses" schtick, the other side of your ever-present "bipartisanship is the answer" coin. Why is it so hard for you to admit that Bush is, in fact, a uniquely bad president who has led the Republican party into a ditch that no blue-ribbon commission of respected elder statesmen from both parties can save us from?

David S. Broder: Perhaps because I have come to have deep respect for the wisdom of the American people, who, in 2004, chose to reelect George W. Bush as president. I have been very critical of his policies, economic, diplomatic and military. But I am unwilling to assume that I am so much smarter than the voting public that I will dism9iss as worthless someone they have chosen as president of the United States.

followed soon after by:

Little Rock, Ark.: "But I am unwilling to assume that I am so much smarter than the voting public that I will dismiss as worthless someone they have chosen as president of the United States. "

Did you have these thoughts when it came to Bill Clinton?

David S. Broder: Yes.

David Broder, Nov. 2nd, 1998:

"[Clinton] came in here and he trashed the place," says Washington Post columnist David Broder, "and it's not his place."


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