In the wake of the recent Limbaugh madness, some conservatives are attempting to present themselves as moderates. If you believe David Brooks, moderates can be determined by their distance from “the Rush Limbaugh brigades.” On a more local level, Missouri Republican Thomas A. Schweich penned an Op-Ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which he echoes Brooks’ concerns while expressing his impatience with Missouri’s right-wing hoi polloi.  Schweich laments the stampede by the Missouri Republican Party to anoint Roy Blunt as Kit Bond’s successor since, according to Schweich, Blunt just doesn’t pass the smell test:

I already can see the advertisements showing grainy pictures of his [i.e., Blunt’s] family members, trumpeting that they are lobbyists for some powerful industries that have hurt ordinary Missourians. And, like it or not, Blunt’s son – another well-meaning guy – left the governor’s office under a cloud that has not yet lifted.

The funny thing about both Brooks and Schweich, however, is that neither is actually very moderate.  Brooks seems to literally shudder with distaste when “forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was,” and announces that, for those in the “center”:

The first task will be to block the excesses of unchecked liberalism. In the past weeks, Democrats have legislated provisions to dilute welfare reform, restrict the inflow of skilled immigrants and gut a voucher program designed for poor students. It will be up to moderates to raise the alarms against these ideological outrages.

The tone is more refined, a tad more subtle, but the sentiments strike me as similar to those that inspire Mr. Limbaugh.  Is style alone enough to make Brooks a moderate?

Schweich comes a little closer to moderation, but notes that:

We need a party that is devoted to preserving the free-market system against the Obama onslaught on private enterprise …

When Obama’s centrist liberalism provokes such hyperbole, we know that the speaker is perching on the right end of the spectrum — a long way from the moderate center. Schweich’s real objection to the direction of the Missouri Republican party is basically pragmatic rather than ideological.  He just doesn’t want Republicans to loose elections, and he doubts that the bozos running the show right now will be able persuade Missourians that they deserve to hold power.

Moderation and centrism for both Schweich and Brooks seems confined to their revulsion with the more brutish Republican fringe, and their realization that the party is out of viable options. Schweich declares that:

… the Missouri Republican Party seems to have no plan for responsible Missourians.

As for the national Repbulican party, Brooks proclaims:

The only thing more scary than Obama’s experiment is the thought that it might fail and the political power will swing over to a Republican Party that is currently unfit to wield it.

While I agree with both of them wholeheartedly on this particular point, I fail to see that their distaste for the more unsocialized Republicans now running rampant constitutes a moderate point of view.