THE NEW OLD REGIME. Ed Kilgore�s latest post on Joe Lieberman is really pretty fascinating. It highlights what I think basically amounts to a generation gap in views of politics. That's not quite the correct term, though, because it's not exactly a question of age. Rather, I'd say that there were a series of events from 1998-2003 -- the Clinton impeachment, the Florida recount fiasco, the Iraq War -- which served to draw a lot of people into higher levels of political engagement, sometimes because we were little kids during earlier dramas, but often just because the people in question were doing something else earlier.

People who look to those years as their reference points just have very different ideas and perceptions about a lot of things. I always find it intriguing that Bill Clinton, his wife, and his friends, advisors, and collaborators seem to have been a lot less radicalized by the events surrounding his impeachment than, say, I was.

Ultimately, it basically comes down to a question of whether you regard the current era of partisan politics as the normal (if perhaps in some ways regrettable) state of affairs or whether you should think of it as a reversible aberration. I'd put myself in the former camp and can offer a proper argument for why I'm correct. Nevertheless, it's obviously the sort of thing where your thinking is going to be influenced by when you started paying attention closely. Republican hyper-partisanship seems normal to me since it's the only GOP I've ever really known, just as people who started paying attention in the late-1990s think of "New" Democrats as representing the "establishment," since they were in power during that period, even though they were New in the �80s when Princess Allura was my favorite politician.

--Matthew Yglesias

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