In The Eye of the Beholder

Paul Krugman, blogging up a storm, complains:

In fact, it’s quite strange how the magnitude of the Democratic victory has been downplayed. After the 1994 election, the cover of Time showed a charging elephant, and the headline read “GOP stampede.” Indeed, the GOP had won an impressive victory: in House races, Republicans had a 7 percentage point lead in the two-party vote.

In 2006, Time’s cover was much more subdued; two overlapping circles, and the headline “The center is the new place to be.” You might assume that this was because the Democrats barely eked out a victory. In fact, Democrats had an 8.5 percentage point lead, substantially bigger than the GOP win in 1994. Also, the new Democratic majority in the House isn’t just larger than any the Republicans achieved over their 12-year reign; it’s much more solidly progressive than their pre-1994 majority.

Ezra Klein agrees. But here's the thing, I've heard conservatives complain about this too. When conservatives secure political power, it's all "holy shit: conservatives!" but when liberals secure political power, it's all "don't worry, they're centrists." There's truth to both perspectives here, but I think the right fundamentally has the better of this argument. It wouldn't have been helpful to liberals or to liberalism for Time to greet the 2006 elections with a photo of Nancy Pelosi flanked by Charlie Rangel, Henry Waxman, David Obey, and John Conyers under the headline "THE LIBERAL TAKEOVER."

It's true, however, that what Paul and Ezra are complaining about is very annoying to liberals, but that's not the same thing.