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David Sirota

David Sirota

Posted: July 18, 2008 02:50 PM

Obama & the "Centrists" Running the Asylum

I'm filing this weekly column dispatch at a rest stop outside of Waco, Texas on my way to the Netroots Nation conference. On the drive from Dallas, I've been listening to talk radio and obsessing over the concept of "the center."

I'll admit it - I'm more than a bit obsessed with the ongoing attempts by today's propagandists (read: politicians and Washington pundits) to distort where the mythic "center" is. Whoever controls the definition of the center, controls a huge amount of political power because they control the very parameters of what policies are - and are not - acceptable for serious consideration.

Back in 2005, I wrote this article for the Nation on how forces inside the Democratic Party exist almost exclusively to make Democratic politicians believe the "center" is far to the right of the American public. Now this week, I wrote this new newspaper column looking at the debate surrounding Barack Obama's recent policy shifts.

For the last few weeks, every reporter, politician and pundit in Washington have been saying Obama's endorsement of warrantless wiretapping and shifting statements on NAFTA and Iraq are moves to the center.* But, as my column shows, the empirical public opinion data show that those are moves away from the center of American public opinion.

This is the invisible propaganda system I'm talking about - the one that tries to impose the skewed center of elite opinion in Washington, D.C. on the rest of the country - even though the center of opinion in the rest of the country is far different from that Washington "center." And if you think this distortion is inadvertent, then I've got some real estate to sell you. As the column shows, there's a very clear reason why those in D.C. want to distort the center.

You can read the full column at the San Francsico Chronicle, Denver Post, Ft. Collins Coloradoan, In These Times, TruthDig, Credo Action or Creators Syndicate's website.

The column relies on grassroots support, so if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. Thanks, as always, for your ongoing readership and help contacting local editors. This column couldn't be what it is without your help.

* Obama has said he has not shifted position on NAFTA and Iraq - and that he's been entirely consistent. Whether that's true or not is not important in the context of looking at how the media and politicians try to skew the terms of our political debate. The point here is that the Establishment portrays positions supporting warrantless wiretapping, NAFTA and staying in Iraq as "centrism" when the empirical data shows such positions are on the extreme fringe of American public opinion.

This is an ongoing series from the national tour for THE UPRISING. You can order The Uprising at or through your local independent bookstore.