"Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system.
And no, I don’t mean the fanaticism of the right. Well, OK, that too. But my feeling about those people is that they are what they are; you might as well denounce wolves for being carnivores. Crazy is what they do and what they are.
No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.
Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.
So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship."
Sorry, Paul - you're wrong and your logic here is lazy. What you rightly criticize is:
1. Moral ambiguity
2. Lack of intellectual curiosity
3. A confusion of respecting others with conceding points to others
4. The view that fair debate does not mean conceding to poorly made arguments
These things are very bad for society, and they're worth fighting. You usually do a great job fighting them. But these things have absolutely nothing to do with "centrism" which really is just a nebulous sense that conservatives have some good ideas and liberals have some good ideas and we don't have anything else to call ourselves.
I can think of myself in terms of "centrism" (usually I think of myself as "center-left" or "moderate") without conceding an inch to the absurdities of the austerity crowd. The two things have nothing to do with each other.