PHONY MODERATES. ...

PHONY MODERATES. The Prospect's own Harold Meyerson earns his pay today with a Washington Post column excoriating the notion that moderate Republicans are, in fact, moderates:

Chafee and his moderate band are an ever weaker force in a party whose very essence is extreme, whose electoral strategy is solely to mobilize its base, whose legislative strategy is never to seek votes across party lines. And unless these moderates boldly go where they have not gone before and cast their vote for majority leader (and I don't mean in caucus, I mean on the Senate floor) for someone other than the nominee of their party caucus, they are not moderates at all. They are loyal and indispensable foot soldiers in the Republicans' continuing campaign to drag the nation rightward and backward.

And guess what. The moderates will vote for the extremist. "Moderate," after all, is only an adjective; "Republican" is a noun. Chafee, Snowe, the whole lot of them, are moderate enablers of an extremist party. That leaves those voters in Rhode Island, Maine, Ohio and other states where these self-proclaimed Republican moderates are running only one choice if they seek a Congress to check and balance the president, if they want a more moderate nation: Vote for the Democrat.

Which they, of course, will not do. Their moderation is a posture and a pose. For it to work, it requires the extremism of the Republican Party to be a foil. After all, without the Senate's nuttier elements holding power, how will David Broder know that its chin-stroking moderates disapprove of Tom Coburn's actions?

--Ezra Klein

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