The enduring sadness of ‘both sides do it’

THE ENDURING SADNESS OF ‘BOTH SIDES DO IT’…. Ron Fournier, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, had a couple of items this morning on Twitter that fit into a larger, depressing pattern.

The topic was Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s apparent decision to leave the Republican primary and run for the Senate as an independent. It prompted Fournier to write:

What does Crist’s decision say, if anything, about state of the political middle in US?

It’s a fair question, certainly worth of consideration. But it was soon followed by another question.

In other words, is there room for moderate candidates and moderate voters in either party?

On the day yet another very high profile Republican moderate is driven from the party ranks for being insufficienly conservative, the head of the AP’s Washington bureau wonders whether “either party” is willing to make room for moderates.

Sigh.

This gets awfully tiresome. In the House, there are more than 50 “Blue Dogs” in the House Democratic caucus. Is there a comparable group of centrist or left-leaning Republicans in the House GOP caucus?

In the Senate, Democratic moderates are more than a little plentiful. Ben Nelson is obviously no liberal, and if Fournier is looking for centrists in the Democratic ranks, I’d also recommend taking a look at Baucus, Landrieu, Bayh, Conrad, Lieberman, Lincoln, and Pryor, among others. For goodness sakes, the party elected Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader, and he’s not even pro-choice.

Granted, Senate Republicans have Snowe and Collins, but two isn’t an especially big number, and neither of the Maine moderates have been willing to break party ranks on major issues lately.

At the same time, in a more general sense, Democrats continue to recruit moderate candidates and reach out to the American mainstream, while Republicans continue to run hard to the right.

“Is there room for moderate candidates and moderate voters in either party?” Seriously?

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Steve Benen

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.