Sam Wang weighs in on Forbes list:

The problem appears to be that “liberal” was not a clearly defined term (although the authors claim to have used concrete criteria such as a desire for universal health care and opposition to the Iraq war). Perhaps the practical criterion was “liberals plus people who annoy us Republican loyalists.” In this light the list makes more sense. Too bad they didn’t pause to consider that many of these people annoy quite a broad political demographic.

There’s a second advantage to defining liberalism in a way that includes nonideological or middle-of-the-road pundits. It never hurts to work the referee, i.e. call someone liberal as a way of getting him/her to lean further rightward. In this light, the inclusion of the NYT and WaPo op-ed directors (Shipley and Hiatt) as well as the WSJ news director (Seib) makes perfect sense. Even assuming these three people are actual liberals, in practice they don’t carry out editorial policies that lean left.

Tim Ash has a refreshing piece on the subject in the NYT today. I like the word "liberal" and am very comfortable with the word "classical" in front of it. Many American conservatives are liberals in the deepest sense - they back the free market, the First Amendment, the broad balance of the American constitution, a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. But what has emerged in recent years is a darker, more authoritarian strain of conservatism - rooted in the cultural and racial conservatism of the South, partial to a near-dictatorial war-presidency, believing in American exceptionalism to the extent that it exempts America from the moral norms of the rest of the world, and rooting the legitimacy of the American constitution in only one religious tradition (narrowly defined).

These characters want to redefine conservatism around this theocratic, authoritarian, self-justifying ideology. I am more than happy to share the term liberalism with others. I am not going to have the word conservative coopted solely by these religious radicals.

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