In the past Europeans have often been critical of American political parties for being non-ideological coalitions dedicated to election-winning and deal- making. Now these distant days seem like a golden age of common sense and pragmatism!
We hear a lot over here about Republican ideological commitment, currently manifested in intransigence over raising the debt limit. But we're not sure what to make of the Democrats. If American politics is polarized, it's difficult to make out where President Obama's party is situated. They are certainly nowhere near as liberal as the Republicans are conservative - in fact, the partisan battle seems to be right v center-right rather than right v left. Paul Krugman's commentary "The Centrist Cop-Out" in yesterday's New York Times has certainly resonated over here.
President Obama has made so many concessions to the Republican preferences on taxation and spending that it is difficult for us outsiders to make out what the fight is all about. The agenda seems dominated by the party that controls just one chamber of Congress, while the party that controls the other chamber and the White House appears in retreat from power.