Joe Klein seems to get it:
David Brooks writes today as a moderate-conservative anguished by Barack Obama’s budget. I’ve known David for almost twenty years now. We’ve had many wonderful conversations, publicly and privately, over those years, and I value the quality of his mind, his decency, his essential sanity. We both consider ourselves moderates, though of different sorts.
But I disagree with him profoundly about the Obama budget–and so, I would venture, do most moderate-liberals. The budget has to be seen in context. We are at the end of a 30-year period of radical conservatism, a period so right-wing that many of those now considered “liberals”–like, say, Barack Obama–would be seen as moderate pantywaists in the great sweep of modern political history. The past 30 years have been such a violent departure from the norm, such a profound destruction of the basic functions of government, that a major rectification is called for now–in rebalancing the system of taxation toward progressivity, in rebuilding the infrastructure of the country, not just physically, but also socially and intellectually.
I’m really not kidding when I say that Obama would probably be viewed as almost too “conservative” in many regards for some of the center-right parties of Europe. Unless things have changed radically since my comparative politics courses, Obama would probably be in the right wing of a party like the CDU/CSU in Germany. Or, at least the CDU/CSU as it was discussed back when I was taking these courses years and years ago, although I would bet they are still roughly the same. Obama is most certainly to the right of what used to be call the Free Democrats or the Social Democrats. And I am surprised I still remember this stuff almost 20 years later. Good teacher, I guess. Unless, of course, everything I have stated here is wrong, in which case, blame me and not my old prof. I was probably staring at the cute girl two seats over instead of paying attention.