Moderation, seen as a vice

Shaking my head as I read this:

Huntsman tries to shed ‘moderate’ label

Jon Huntsman’s S.C. advisors are pushing back on the “moderate” label that has dogged the former Utah governor in his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.

“We have a story to tell about Huntsman that hasn’t been told yet,” Richard Quinn, a S.C. advisor to Huntsman, said Thursday as Huntsman shook hands and ate barbeque at a Columbia restaurant.

S.C. politicos increasingly agree the S.C. race will come down to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who consistently has finished in the top two in S.C. polls, and a “non-Romney” candidate, likely to be someone further to the political right of Romney.

That means a new narrative is needed for Huntsman who, rightly or wrongly, has been labeled as a moderate by many S.C. voters because of his stint as U.S. ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, his support for same-sex civil unions and his belief in global warming….

What has become of our nation when it is a virtue — a prerequisite, even — to be an extremist? This is not a good place to be, people. It’s like… civilization itself having a bad name.

8 thoughts on “Moderation, seen as a vice

  1. Mark Stewart

    Let’s just face it; it’s a seriously lame Republican cast of wannabes.

    I’m partial to Huntsman, but hardly enthusiastic about it. His advantage is moderation; why would his local handler’s try to recast him in SC?

    Are they that patronizing of “conservative” voters here? Or are they more concerned about the state’s long record of picking the eventual winner? Is it gravy train before candidate? Sorry for the cynicism; but this post just sets it off in me.

  2. bud

    Brad, I don’t know why you shake your head about this. Aren’t we all extremists about something? I consider myself pretty moderate when it comes to military matters. I beleive there is no reasonable threat that couldn’t be dealt with if we cut our military budget by half. Compared to my thinking on that I would find you an extremist on issues related to national defense. In essence that means an extremist is someone who differs sharply from one’s perception of what moderation is. It’s relative.

  3. bud

    Here are some other issues I regard as extreme:

    Warrantless wire tapping
    War on drugs, especially marijuana
    Iraq war
    Support for Green Diamond
    Outlawing video poker
    Blue Laws
    Tax exemption for mortgage on second homes
    Allowing the drilling for oil in deepwater (over 5000 ft)
    Banning of abortion with exceptions for rape and incest
    Expansion of nuclear power
    Allowing prayer in public schools

    Some folks would see some, or all, of these positions as moderate, mainstream issues. Some would find the opposite view (from mine) as the extremist position. So I’m not sure the label “extremist” is particularly meaningful.

  4. Brad

    And here are the reactions of an actual moderate:

    1. Warrantless wire tapping — You need to define your terms more clearly. “Wiretap” is a 20th century word that gets kind of mushy in a wireless world. I’m thinking you’re probably referring to the scanning of billions of communications in a process that is actually closer (as I understand it) to another old term: “traffic analysis.” Certain patterns are looked for, and if they emerge, zeroed in on. This is for me a huge gray area. If you’re referring to the kind of large-scale scanning of communications under the Patriot Act, I think generally I can live with it. If you’re talking about actually entering someone’s home, or even directly accessing someone’s personal computer remotely, I think there should probably be a warrant. But at the same time, all sorts of private companies access your data remotely without a warrant, so these are things that require constant rethinking.
    2. War on drugs, especially marijuana — As we’ve discussed before, I disagree.
    3. Iraq war — I was for the invasion, like people across the political spectrum. Once committed, I couldn’t see even thinking about withdrawing until a reasonable level of stability was achieved. I was not in favor of the way Bush and Rumsfeld handled the situation after the actual toppling of the Ba’athist regime. I think we got back on the right course when Petraeus took over. I’m concerned, but torn, about the pending withdrawal.
    3. Support for Green Diamond — I’m with you there, although not adamantly. It’s not something I would have done, but I was ambivalent as to whether those developers should have been allowed to try it. On the one had, it was their risk to take. On the other, there was the risk of flooding on the other side of the river and downstream — the latter outweighs the former, which is why I say I’m with you.
    4. Outlawing video poker — By the end, it was such a corrupting influence on the State House that that was the only way. It had to go.
    5. Blue Laws — I disagree completely. Ours was a more civilized culture when there was a day that things calmed down and commerce ceased.
    6. Tax exemption for mortgage on second homes — I’m with you. Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced we should have it on first homes. I wouldn’t campaign to get rid of it, though.
    7. Allowing the drilling for oil in deepwater (over 5000 ft) — I don’t know how you pick that number. Seems arbitrary. (I guess what I’m saying is, accidents can happen at 4,000 ft., too. The answer isn’t a number, but rather proper safeguards.) Bottom line, I want drilling wherever it can be done safely (within a reasonable doubt), because our economy needs the oil until we develop alternative sources on a sufficient scale, and we desperately need to wean ourselves of unstable foreign sources.
    8. Banning of abortion with exceptions for rape and incest — The only exemption for me would be the mother’s life. Only a life can balance out a life.
    9. Expansion of nuclear power — Such expansion is essential. Our best option at this time to wean ourselves off fossil fuels (just to use transportation as an example) is to move to electric cars, and the cleanest, safest source for that electricity is nuclear. We are capable of building safe plants.
    10. Allowing prayer in public schools — Ambivalent. I can’t see taking up the cudgels for either side in this debate. Prayer in the schools is harmless, but at the same time I respect the goal of keeping public schools secular. Have prayer or don’t, society would be fine. Oh, and I assume we’re talking officially sanctioned prayer. Of course any individual or group of individuals is perfectly free to pray anywhere.

    On that last one — if you look back at the rules that Dick Riley promulgated on this issue when he was Bill Clinton’s secretary of education, you’ll see a good, moderate response to the prayer issue. It was a response that wouldn’t be entirely satisfactory to either side in the culture war, but it was fine to a moderate.

    By the way, I also thought “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a great moderate response. That also, as you recall, was a Third Way course taken by Clinton.

    And on abortion, I very much appreciate the initiative by members of Congress on both sides of the issue to work together to make abortion more rare. That’s something both sides say they want, and it’s far better to work on that than to keep shouting at each other. E.J. Dionne mentioned that in his speech the other night, by the way…

  5. bud

    Brad makes my point. Certainly we agree on some things but let’s take one (a minor one so as not to stir things up too much) Blue Laws. Over time our state relaxed it’s stand on what could and could not be sold legally in South Carolina. The general public gradually began to re-think the whole issue until now it’s pretty clear that the concensus position is that the Blue Laws should be eliminated, except perhaps for alcohol. It seems to me that that would make the position of reverting back to large-scale Blue Laws the extremist position. So here we have a self-described moderate who clearly supports what is undeniably an extremist, reactionary position on this issue. And that’s ok. The point is that extremism is in the eyes of the beholder.

  6. Brad

    That’s why I’m not entirely comfortable with the word “moderate.” But when you are neither a liberal nor a conservative as they are currently defined, that’s the only position our limited political vocabulary allows.

    I think maybe I should come up with a new word. Maybe we should have a contest.

    But in the meantime, if anyone else wants to comment on this, let’s do it over at the new post.

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