HOW HATCH PERCEIVES THE SENATE…. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah appeared on MSNBC this morning, ostensibly to reflect on the career of his friend Ted Kennedy, but he also talked about the polarization of the political parties.

“You [used to have] at least 12 conservatives that you could call conservatives on the Democratic side,” Hatch said. “We probably had about 12 liberals on our side, and it was much more balanced.”

“Today, there’s only one moderate, as I see it, real moderate, in the Democratic United States senate,” Hatch continued, “and on the Republican side we’ve gone pretty conservative, we only have two liberals on the Republican side, as I can see it now.”

Hatch’s office later added that the senator was referring to Nebraska’s Ben Nelson as the only “moderate” Democrat, and Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe as the Republican “liberals.”

Now, Hatch isn’t a centrist, so his views are skewed by his ideology, but it seems to me the Senate Democratic caucus is filled with moderates. For goodness sakes, the party elected Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader, and he’s not even pro-choice.

Granted, Ben Nelson is the least liberal Dem in the chamber. But if “there’s only one moderate” among Democrats, I guess that means Hatch considers Baucus, Landrieu, Bayh, Conrad, Lieberman, Lincoln, Specter, and Pryor to be “liberals”?

I wonder just how conservative a Senate Dem has to be in order to qualify as a “moderate.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.