What I've been calling the "false equivalence" outlook is one whose starting point on most issues is: "Enough of the posturing and blame game from both sides. Until we reach the true ideal of a New Centrist Party to bring us together, we have to rely on the President to put out sensible centrist plans. And if there's no agreement, our starting-point assumption is that he hasn't been forthcomingly reasonable enough."
The other outlook, which for lack of a better term just now I'll call "journalistic realism," instead says: "Yes, of course, over the years both sides have gone through 'righter' and 'wronger' phases; democracies finally move forward by compromise; and presidents have more power and therefore more responsibility for finding consensus than anyone else. But just at the moment one side is saying 2+2=4, and the other is saying 2+2=5, and the '4' people are right."
I'll let you match contender and perspective yourself. Here's a sample:
I know, like, and respect both of the discussants, and I think each of them has done us a service with this exchange -- Klein in having the initiative to propose the discussion and Brooks in having the menschy-ness to agree. It is worth close examination. I look forward to further reflections by both writers in their columns and (seriously) thank them for this start.Brooks: In my ideal world, the Obama administration would do something Clintonesque: They'd govern from the center; they'd have a budget policy that looked a lot more like what Robert Rubin would describe, and if the Republicans rejected that, moderates like me would say that's awful, the White House really did come out with a centrist plan.Klein: But I've read Robert Rubin's tax plan. He wants $1.8 trillion in new revenues. The White House, these days, is down to $1.2 trillion. I'm with Rubin on this one, but given our two political parties, the White House's offer seems more centrist. And you see this a lot. People say the White House should do something centrist like Simpson-Bowles, even though their plan has less in tax hikes and less in defense cuts. So it often seems like a no-win for them.
This article available online at: