Matt misinterprets my post from this morning (although I do like the constant blog wars we're having). Terming it "fuck the center" isn't quite correct, it was much more "fuck the imaginary center" (hence the title: "The Imaginary Center"), the point being that this magical land of moderation exists only in the mental landscape of the pundit class. That, of course, accounted for my foray into what Matt calls "polling literalism". Policies supported by the American people lay far outside what one would assume centrist politics allows -- they profess to want government-run health care, a hyper-progressive tax system, etc., which proves, I think, that achieving "centrism" isn't as binary and simplistic as some assume.
Of course, we do have a representative democracy, so if Americans really wanted these things, they wouldn't keep voting in the schmucks who demagogue the bills aimed at achieving them. That's why I didn't recommend that Hillary fight for single-payer health care or a whopping increase in top-bracket taxes, I don't think the American people would end up springing for it. That's also why I've been arguing for the regressive VAT (rather than holding out for more progressive solutions) and against single-payer (rather than middle-way universal options). There may be no all-powerful center, but there's sure as hell no omnipotent left and you go after what you're likely to sell. All that said, Hillary won't find much salvation in the glorious kingdom of centrism. Because that really is where the polling literalism that Matt deplores springs from -- uncertain politicians thinking that if they eavesdrop on enough voters they'll find this magic package of middle-way proposals that no one will ever disagree with. As Bush pere would say, "Not gonna happen".