Joe Nocera does a pretty good job on the Republicans in his NY Times op-ed today, but he spoils it near the end with this piece of nonsense:
A party controlled by its most extreme faction will ultimately be forced back to the center. The Democrats learned that when Walter Mondale was losing to Ronald Reagan, and Michael Dukakis to George H.W. Bush. Now it is the Republicans who don’t seem to understand that their extreme tactics are pleasing a small percentage of their countrymen but alienating everyone else.
Nocera thus demonstrates his susceptibility to that common affliction of the mainstream media: false balance. He couldn’t trash the Republicans without saying something equally trashy about the Democrats. But today’s Democrats clearly are no match for the Republicans’ radicalism, so he hearkens back to a mythical age of Democrat extremism. What improbable extremists: Walter Mondale, who in 1984 advocated nothing more radical than a tax increase to curb the deficit. Michael Dukakis, who, having dourly promised to wage his 1988 presidential campaign on “competence, not ideology,” trashed an assertively liberal draft speech for his Labor Day rally. (He called it “populist shit.”)
It is preposterous to suggest that the Democrats of the 1980s (or of any era) constitute some kind of analogue to today’s Republicans, who are (yes, I’m repeating myself) the first genuinely radical major party in US history. Nocera thus understates the Republicans’ lunacy, which was supposed to be his main point.