Tuesday, January 16, 2007

# Posted 8:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IS OXBLOG STILL CENTRIST? There's plenty of space for your opinions below. But if you weigh in, you should probably place yourself along the political spectrum. Clearly, conservatives are inclined to consider us liberal, and liberals to consider us conservative.

I would argue that, all together, there is balance of opinion among the contributors here that adds up to moderation. But speaking in terms of substance, are we centrist? And what exactly is centrism?

(To answer those questions, it may help to take a look at TMV's weekly round-up of centrist opinion, entitled Center of Attention.)
(20) opinions -- Add your opinion

Let's see.

David is an unrepentant neocon. He occasionally couches his views with fashionable human rights observations, purple fingers and all, but his arguments, observations and conclusions are always very predictable. Reality doesn't get in the way.

Patrick Porter is also somewhat right wing, but his arguments have more depth and are thus more interesting. Reality is annoying, but it is acknowledged.

Patrick Belton is a little left of center, but not much. Reality is evident.

Taylor is a little further left of center, but I do find his arguments hard to follow -- sorry, but the writing is overly clever. Reality is observed.

Is this balanced? No.
Are you centrist? No.

What is centrism? From the ever useful Wikipedia, "In politics, centrism usually refers to the political ideal of promoting moderate policies which land in the middle ground between different political extremes."

I'd say that PB and TO are centrist, but that's balanced by two rather right wing neocons. Balance would require an actual liberal voice.
The blog is within the margin of ideological error. Yes, it is centrist!
Given that TMV thinks Dean Esmay is an example of centrism, I say that you all should run screaming from the label.
None of you seem either to revel in blatant intellectual dishonesty or to be start, staring bonkers. Given the track record for the blogging medium, I'd say that's about all that one could wish for, frankly.
A centrist blog would be a little less predictable in its critiques of the msm. Media crit on this site runs about 90-10 in the direction of poking at lib slant.

Now you could say this is because the lib slant is more prevalent, or that the lib slant is more thinly veiled, or comes through more powerful organs (nyt).

You could say that, and there might be something to it, but even so, any natural skeptic would wonder about the motivation. What is a more likely reason for any given individuals to be making that claim? Because they are naturally centrist and happened upon a highly imbalanced passion for exposing msm failings in the pursuit of truth? Or because they are instinctual partisans who prefer the abstract notion of centrism, especially where their own self-regard is concerned?

What passes for self-examination on this site is sometimes surprisingly shallow.

There is a nice range of voices, but that's not the same as centrism.
Moderate works. Good job btw, it's almost always a good read.
Is Oxblog centrist? And what constitutes centrism?

Merriam-Webster defines a centrist as someone who holds moderate views, thus avoiding the political extremes. According to this broad definition, Oxblog contributors seem to fit this description. However, I would add a qualifier; this relates to the American political centre.

The degree to which one moves away from seemingly moderate views depends on the political context. For example, Taylor Owen may seem more left of centre than other contributors, but he is arguably more of a centrist in Canada, than in the US. Conversely, David Adesnik may seem more moderate right in the US, than elsewhere.

Those are my thoughts, for what they’re worth.
If you add up the viewpoints, you may get a centrist result (by American standards, as Canadian Tar Heel accurately points out), but since I wouldn't consider any individual blogger to be centrist, I can't really call the site centrist.
I was a long time, loyal reader of OxBlog - in fact I was a winner of your "millionth reader" contest, and have an Oxford bookmark to prove it.

Unfortunately, I've really not read Oxblog as much since Josh left. I enjoy David's comments a lot - always have. The Patricks' are also pretty good. But the addition of Taylor Owen has really turned me off the site - his comments are the kind of non-substantive, unthoughtful commentary that I associate with DailyKos. When Josh was here, Oxblog used to be a nice, centrist site with really substantive commentary from moderates of both sides. However, it really has moved far to the left in the past year - and not in a good way (I am a loyal reader of substantive, thoughtful leftie sites, but Taylor's posts don't really qualify).

I still click on Oxblog now and again to see what David has to say, but less and less so as the site has become increasingly dominated by others. Sorry to say that.
I've never met Taylor but would like to stick up for him. I think his addition has really broadened the scope of commentary. His postings are thoughtful and substantive, and his internationalist leanings make a good contrast to the more hawkish perspective of the others.

Is OxBlog centrist? I'm not sure it's a term that means very much - or as another post observed, it means different things in different countries. David and Patrick Porter incline towards a robust neo-conservatism in international affairs, and enjoy hammering the liberal media. Taylor has obvious affinities with Ignatieff. Patrick Belton rarely posts anything other than jokes.
Well, I'm certainly glad Taylor's here. I disagree strongly with many of his posts, but the difference between him and Kos is night and day.

On a random note, may I observe that no one has followed up their assessment of OxBlog's centrism with an indentification of their own position on the ideological spectrum.

Am I an "unrepentant neocon" or mostly "moderate"? Are those substantive assessments, or just reflections of the authors' own politics, rather than mine?
hey all,

Taylor has introduced a real, dialectic stimulus to the site, making it an even more inspiring place to blog.

on the centrism point, I can proudly claim to have annoyed our rightist readers on the Israel-Lebanon war, and the question of the strategic effects of bombing Iran. While annoying our leftist readers on a range of topics.

Is this centrist? maybe not. But hopefully there's something to irritate everyone.

Really David, you can't claim to be moderate or centrist (certainly not from a British or European context - and you do market yourself under the name of a British university after all - and i think very probably not in an American context either). As previous commentators have pointed out, the vast majority of your engagement and attacks have been on perceived liberal bias in the media, perceived drift by the Democrats on international issues, The UN, Europeans, etc. While you do make some criticisms of Bush and other Republicans, these often tend to be on issues of policy effectiveness rather than on points of ideology or principle.

I think 'unrepentant neocon' is fair considering how loud a cheerleader you were for the Iraq war and how long it took you to recognise that things were not going to plan. (the archives, which, to your credit, remain open, have furnished enough evidence on that point). Even today most of your commentary on Iraq seems motivated largely by the desire to exculpate American actors from blame for the chaos, pinning all the blame on the 'evil sunni insurgency'. This analysis is, I fear, rather blighted by your own preconceptions about the nature of American power as it is exercised abroad.

Now, there's nothing wrong per se with taking these positions but I find it curious that you need to pretend that they represent a centrist perspective. Your politics to me seem clear-cut, and to the right, albeit in the classical liberal, small-government tradition rather than, say, the Christian coalition vein (so, I note your position on gay issues for example differs from Bush's). Why not be open about this fact? It smacks a little of intellectual dishonesty to pretend to be equally open to ideas from both sides of the political spectrum. There's nothing wrong with taking a clear-cut and well-advertised ideological stance.

As for the other Oxbloggers, I would agree that both Patricks are right-of-centre, perhaps Porter more so than Belton, and that Taylor represents a perspective to the left of centre, though I'd suggest he represents more a liberal democratic position rather than social democratic or socialist (in the european sense of these terms).

I don't think that altogether this means the sum total of the blog's output counts as 'centrist'. It's certainly less ideologically consistent in its output than under previous incarnations, and this is quite a good thing.

Should it be of any interest, I'd describe myself as being on the left, and would be considered so both in Europe and America...
As you know, I'm well right of center, think you're a progessive left of center who has a right of center foreign policy outlook.
The other two, one is a Democrat mouthpiece who follows the Party line and the other belongs on Kos/Atrios/DU/MyDD
Mike Daley

you've said this before. how on earth am I a hard-core democrat? Because I think Bush has some good ideas but has been less than competent in pursuing them?

Granted, I've disagree with a range of rightist readers on some issues, but I'd still say I am broadly libertarian on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy. this doesn't place someone neatly in either Republican or Democrat circles.

As a friend of Patrick's for many years, I nearly fell off my chair laughing when you described him as "a Democrat mouthpiece who follows the party line". If you think he supports the Democrats, then may I gently suggest that political analysis might not, in fact, be your forte?
David strikes me as a Joe Lieberman type: he understands, and takes seriously, all threats to American security. At the same time, my impression is that he is more left than me on social/domestic issues. It's clear, however, that foreign policy is what interests him, and he talks about that far more than social issues, so I can't be that sure of where he stands on these issues. I'm usually in agreement with him on foreign policy issues.

As for Patrick Porter, his description of himself in these comments generally matches my thoughts. He seems generally pretty hawkish on foreign policy, and I'd say slightly right of center on domestic/social issues (so, I guess libertarian is a good description).

At the same time, both Patrick and David are willing to call out Republicans/Conservatives when they screw up or are wrong. David has been more than willing to give Republicans terrible grades in his Sunday Morning talk show roundup if they're bad, wrong or incompetent.

As for Patrick Belton, after his long hiatus, he doesn't seem to get too political in his posts. A lot of his posts aren't even related to foreign policy. He always has some quirky posts, which are fun to read. When he does comment on foreign policy issues, such as during his trips to Paris, Pakistan and Israel/Jerusalem/Palestinian Territories, he seems to recognize the threats that he encounters. That he is serious about these issues by itself puts him more right of center in my estimation.

As for Taylor, I don't think there's any question that he's more left of center. I disagree with almost everything I read of his (with some exceptions), but he strikes me as the type of liberal I would actually enjoy having a conversation with about these issues. He doesn't seem to type to yell or scream or start spreading conspiracy theories about the Bush administration. That alone takes him out of the Daily Kos category and puts him in the "serious liberal" category. Unfortunately, there aren't too many others to keep him company there.

OxBlog is easily on of my favorite blogs, mainly because I'm more interested in foreign policy, and because they don't spout talking points, hyperbole, hysteria, exaggerations or name calling like too many other blogs on the right.

I would call OxBlog centrist for the US, whatever that may mean. I don't think any of the contributors are unrepentant ideologues.
Hey Dan, and others,

one of the complicating things here is that there are differences between the Republican-Democrat spectrum and the left-right spectrum.

If you believe in limited government and libertarian philosophy across a range of issues, that would place you in an uncomfortable position with the Republicans as they are today.

Gay marriage, drugs, civil liberties, and the general belief that the state is not there to inculcate values into its citizens - to have libertarian attitudes to these issues would be to place one at odds with many contemporary Republicans.
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