Which party is getting more extreme?

Democrats want to paint Republicans as wild-eyed conservative extremists, but are Republicans or Democrats moving faster toward their ideological poles?  Not even the Democrats who have tried to make this case repeatedly since 2009 can keep their stories straight.  After portraying Mitt Romney as a man with no ideological core at all, Democrats and Team Obama now accuse Romney of being the biggest conservative ideologue since Barry Goldwater, and the GOP as being radically right-wing for having nominated him:

After months of depicting Mr. Romney as the ultimate squishy, double-talking, no-core soul, Team Obama is shifting gears. Senior administration officials, along with Democratic and campaign officials, all say their strategy moving forward will be to tell the world that Mr. Romney has a core after all — and it’s deep red.

Joe Scarborough and his team discussed the 180-degree turn in Democratic Party hysterics on yesterday’s show:

The interesting thing that’s happened in the last week, I think, is the way in which the Obama campaign has shifted away from the consistent argument that they’ve made over the course of the last year, really, about Mitt Romney, which is that he is a flip flopping phony, away from that argument to the argument he is a right-wing nut. And, you know, with David Plouffe coming out and saying that he is the most radical conservative since Barry Goldwater. You can’t kind of have it both ways. Barry Goldwater was not a flip flopping phony. And so, if you’re going to say that Romney is a flip flopping phony, you can’t say that he’s a hard right conservative.

I think they are shifting in that direction and that is, I think, part of their trying to adapt to a new environment where they think Romney might be able to get to the middle, and they want to try and keep him over there on the far right.

Actually, I find this rather instructive.  The only way anyone can make an argument that Mitt Romney is the second coming of Barry Goldwater is to have a perspective starting so far Left that there appears to be no difference between the two. In my column today for The Fiscal Times, I look at the decimation of the Blue Dog Democrats that continued in primaries this week to argue that the extreme party is the one suffering a festering case of projection these days:

Consider the state of the Blue Dog Democrat coalition in the House.  In 2006 and 2008, Democrats ran moderates for swing districts held by Republicans after the GOP lost the confidence of the electorate, and won dozens of seats to take control of Congress.  They promised fiscal discipline and a moderate approach to social issues, and voters assumed they would apply the brakes on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s more doctrinaire liberal impulses.  At the height of their power, the Blue Dog caucus had 54 members and wielded considerable clout – or so voters assumed. …

Rep. Mark Critz had to run against moderate Rep. Jason Altmire in PA-12 after redistricting merged a small part of Critz’ more liberal district into Altmire’s.  Critz edged Altmire by four points — with substantial help from union allies, both in volunteer help and over $80,000 in primary-campaign funds.   Altmire had barely held off Republican challenger Keith Rothful in 2010 by running on his moderate positions on health care and fiscal issues.  Republicans are licking their chops at the chance to run Rothfus against Critz and the Obama administration policies Critz backs.

The Keystone State also lost its longest-serving House member, Blue Dog Rep. Tim Holden. Holden has won ten terms in Congress, but lost by 14 points to Matt Cartwright, a personal-injury attorney who spent $400,000 of his own money to run to Holden’s left.  Redistricting played a much larger part in Holden’s loss, as Holden’s old district consisted of a slightly Republican electorate (R+4).  That changed to a dramatically Democratic district (D+24), and Cartwright hammered Holden for being insufficiently supportive of Obamacare, and posing himself as “an old-school Roosevelt Democrat.”  Republicans are unlikely to beat Cartwright with the new boundaries, and that means that the House Democratic caucus will get pushed further to the left.

In 2010, 34 House Democrats voted against ObamaCare.  By the end of this election cycle, only four of those may still be in the House.  Blue Dogs have become an endangered species as the Democratic Party has moved sharply to its Left under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.  That’s the only explanation for confusing Mitt Romney with the ghost of Barry Goldwater.

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