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Solomon writes: "The comedian George Carlin liked to marvel at oxymorons like 'jumbo shrimp' and 'military intelligence.' Now, as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination intensifies, reporters and pundits at corporate media outlets are escalating their use of a one-word political oxymoron - 'moderate.'"

Joe Biden at the debate on Wednesday. (photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Joe Biden at the debate on Wednesday. (photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

There's Nothing Moderate About "Moderates." A Primary Example Is Joe Biden.

By Norman Solomon, Reader Supported News

01 August 19


he comedian George Carlin liked to marvel at oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence.” Now, as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination intensifies, reporters and pundits at corporate media outlets are escalating their use of a one-word political oxymoron – “moderate.”

As a practical matter, in the routine lexicon of U.S. mass media, “moderate” actually means pro-corporate and reliably unwilling to disrupt the dominant power structures. “Moderate” is a term of endearment in elite circles, a label conferred on politicians who won’t rock establishment boats.

“Moderate” sounds so much nicer than, say, “enmeshed with Wall Street” or “supportive of the military-industrial complex.”

In the corporate media environment, we’re accustomed to pretty euphemisms that fog up un-pretty realities – and the haze of familiarity brings the opposite of clarity. As George Orwell wrote, language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

If Joe Biden is a “moderate,” the soothing adjective obscures grim realities. The framing was routine hours after the debate Wednesday night when the front page of The New York Times began its lead story by reporting that Biden “delivered a steadfast defense of his moderate policies in the Democratic primary debate.”

But how are policies really “moderate” when they perpetuate and increase extreme suffering due to vast income inequality? Or when they support U.S. wars causing so much death and incalculable anguish? Or when they refuse to challenge the fossil-fuel industry and only sign onto woefully inadequate measures in response to catastrophic climate change?

Biden’s record of words and deeds is “moderate” only if we ignore the extreme harm that he has done on matters ranging from civil rights and mass incarceration to student debt and the credit card industry to militarism and war.

Although Biden again tangled with Kamala Harris during the latest debate, she is ill-positioned to provide a clear critique of his so-called “moderate” policies. Harris has scarcely done more than he has to challenge the systemic injustice of corporate domination. So she can’t get far in trying to provide a sharp contrast to Biden’s corporate happy talk on the crucial issue of healthcare.

Harris began this week by releasing what she called “My Plan for Medicare for All.” It was promptly eviscerated by single-payer activist Tim Higginbotham, who wrote for Jacobin that her proposal would “further privatize Medicare … keep the waste and inefficiency of our current multi-payer system … cost families more than Medicare for All … continue to deny patients necessary care” and “fall apart before it’s implemented.”

In keeping with timeworn rhetoric from corporate Democrats, Harris repeatedly said during the debate that she wants to guarantee “access” to healthcare – using a standard corporate-friendly buzzword that detours around truly guaranteeing healthcare as a human right.

No matter whether journalists call Harris “moderate” or “progressive” (a term elastic enough to be the name of a huge insurance company), her unwillingness to confront the dominance of huge corporations over the economic and political life of the USA is a giveaway.

Whatever their discreet virtues, 18 of the 20 candidates who debated this week have offered no consistent, thoroughgoing challenge to corporate power. Among the contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, only Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are providing a coherent analysis and actual challenge to the realities of corporate power and oligarchy that are crushing democracy in the United States.

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched independent Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


+86 # DongiC 2019-08-01 13:18
Sanders and Warren are waging the basic fight against corporate America which will try to tarnish their names and programs with the cry of Socialism, Leftists, Communists. It is just one of the tools of the corporate state to downgrade their opponents. Let's be clear: Sanders and Warren represent the common man and woman. Let's vote them in and return America to true greatness.
+2 # diamondmarge7 2019-08-02 02:39
PLS look harder @ TULSI. and Williamson.
The Military Industrial Corporate Complex is sucking up somewhere near 70%m of the national budget!
Read Williamson's platform; she is sorely needed in the Cabinet--Dept of Children&Youth, Dept of Peace.
Mebbe Warren in Cabinet @ Treasury?
BERNIE/TULSI dream ticket
Warren sez she will take corporate cash--that's a dead in the water chance.
+5 # Wally Jasper 2019-08-02 11:37
Why did Tulsi vote to condemn BDS???? Why does she stand with the Israel criminal regime and against a non-violent democratic tool to resist oppression? Plus she was against gay rights for a long long time and only got on board with that now that it's considered expedient. She's not on any dream ticket of mine. Bernie will choose the right running mate I'm sure.
+2 # diamondmarge7 2019-08-02 12:42
not true. pls ck facts; she denounced that odious position she learned as a child-from her dad. You r demeaning a true Progressive; if u r 1 yourself, wake up & keep up
+5 # diamondmarge7 2019-08-02 02:48
I am a lifelong FDR Progressive. So glad 2 b able 2 share The Good News that not all African Americans r blinded by the Obama-Biden legacy.
My dear friend RW, a deacon in his AAmer megachurch[12,0 00 members]shared w/me that BERNIE is the choice there--not the sellout Obama. RW's brother-in-law is the 2nd generation pastor @ the church & a member of the SC legislature.
This is such good news that I wanted 2 share,
Other good news is that Williamson has moved to Iowa 2 stump ther & she is stumping also in SC, NV & NH.
Those wgo deride Wmson as a snowflake do not know of the steely backbone of this woman.
PLS do not B suckered by Warren who has sed she will accept corporate cash.
Gotta smash influence of the war machine!
PLS examine for yourself as a dream tkt: BERNIE/TULSI
+4 # economagic 2019-08-02 16:20
As I have said before, Williamson gets the deep stuff right, from my perspective, though sometimes perhaps a bit oversimplified. I don't know enough about her to judge whether she has the skills to act as the figurehead for an entire nuclear-armed country even by gathering people who do have those skills around her.

On the other hand, the Orange Menace has managed to get quite a bit of HIS program adopted with no skills except those of a con man. On the other other hand, there are a lot of people with those skills in DC who think T-Rump is Jesus incarnate (e.g., Mike Pompousass).
+63 # johnescher 2019-08-01 15:47
How can the candidates other than Bernie and Elizabeth stand themselves? They weren't brave enough to embrace structural change.
+4 # economagic 2019-08-01 19:36
As Robbee might say, "Because they're ALL dickheads!"
+13 # chapdrum 2019-08-01 18:55
Kudos to Solomon for not letting up. Joe is a fraud (like Harris). The very fact that the Democratic Party is allowing his candidacy despite his making it easy for Clarence Thomas's ascent to the Supreme Court, speaks volumes.
+4 # Shorey13 2019-08-01 19:18
Moderate is primarily a verb, meaning to limit something, like the flow from a hose. Of course, in modern political parlance it is a euphemism for what we used to call Rockefeller Republicans. They hijacked the Democratic Party in the late 80;'s and early 90's when they were summarily ejected by the "Conservatives" (actually Radical Reactionaries, who are not "conservative" at all), who now dominate the old GOP, and are slowly asphyxiating it. (RIP)

The Democratic Leadership Council, the Clintons, the Obamas and Biden dislike the Working Class intensely ("A basket of deplorables")

We need a new, Progressive Party ASAP!
+1 # diamondmarge7 2019-08-02 12:46
Nick Brana et al r working on a new party. Ck it out & support!
+2 # economagic 2019-08-02 16:24
I gotta give you a green thumb (?!?), except for your characterizatio n of the word "moderate." Merriam-Webster begs to differ.
0 # JCM 2019-08-04 18:33
Yes, a Progressive Party but the only way to do that and have a chance to win elections is through supporting and adding Progressives to the Democratic Party. We know what happens when we split our votes, we lose (2016), and we know what happens when we fight and vote together, we win (2018). Staying home is not an option no matter who becomes the Democratic Nominee.
0 # Luara June 2019-08-01 19:38
Kudos for De Blasio for his willingness to upend a corrupt and flawed systemm
+4 # margpark 2019-08-01 20:18
With all power but the vote running against liberals we really need to get out an vote.
+5 # 47scooter 2019-08-01 22:23
In this article by Robert Reich --- --

"Donald Trump, Fox News, and Republicans in Congress label proposals they disagree with "fringe," "radical," or "socialist." Well, let’s see where the American people actually stand:..."

he provides excellent links to the information which... "Even Fox News polls confirm these trends."
+1 # economagic 2019-08-02 16:29
Yes, one of Reich's better essays.
+5 # punditalia 2019-08-02 03:22
Good article and its main argument is needed. However, Sanders and Warren are not alone. Gabbard, more than anyone else, has regularly stressed the damage that has been done by the MIC and has always denounced what the TPP would have done in handing over the sovereignty of all governments to the corporations. Inslee also stresses the dangers of the status quo and Yang is perhaps the only one to address the problem of designed unemployment.
+13 # David Starr 2019-08-02 08:14
Biden is a "moderate" in sheep's clothing. He told the wealthy that nothing would fundamentally change under his presidency. Biden doesn't want real change since that would potentially threaten his own class interests. At least in regards to economics and foreign policy, Biden is in line with the GOP. But he also favors cutting social programs, which ultimately falls in line with the GOP agenda.
+4 # jellyroll 2019-08-02 11:46
A Warren/Prez, Bernie/vice prez ticket would be unbeatable. Working together they would trounce the radical corporate/milit ary Biden faction.
+2 # diamondmarge7 2019-08-02 12:52
I would reverse the order 2 BERNIE Prez--but then Gabbard VPrez. Warren would B indebted 2 the corporate donors becoz she's already sed she would tak their $$$
In Cabinet: WILLIAMSON for her ideas on Peace/Children& Youth..Inslee on Climate
Castro-Yang DENNIS KUCINICH if he would serve--he wouda made a great prez when he ran--dynomite mayor Cleveland & MOC from Ohio.
+2 # Inspired Citizen 2019-08-04 18:50
The ticket will be a collaboration between the two top establishment delegates Biden will be one of and collaboration between the top two progressive delegates Sanders will certainly be one of.

I suspect they both might want Sen Warren, a collaborator with the Clinton wing of the Party in 2016 as a convention delegate. That makes a Sanders/Yang ticket possible or even a Sanders/Inslee ticket, but Warren doesn't have a great record when it comes to siding with the progressive candidate when it mattered.

There are three insurgent candidates running and participating in the debates: Sanders, Gabbard and Williamson. Williamson will not get any delegates, but Gabbard's support is rising and may get some along the way. Out of that range of revolutionary, anti-neoliberal choices, #BernieOrBust remains intact with a Plan B: If Sanders drops out for any reason, Bernie or Bust seemlessly shifts into #TulsiOrTrash the Democratic Party.

#BernieOrBust and #TulsiOrTrash are declarations of war against the establishment and its neo-liberal political practices of privatization, austerity, corporate-frien dly trade agreements, regime change wars, cold wars, etc. Progressive or Bust is essentially Revolution or Extinction. Rejecting both the establishment and the fascists is the only path to human survival into the next millennium.

#BernieOrBust is a pledge, a how-to guide for peaceful revolution in 2-party system, a bumpersticker URL and other cyber-innovatio ns this time around.
0 # diamondmarge7 2019-08-05 05:20
While Harris absolutely makes my skin crawl--How can u tell she's slying? Her lips r moving--I don't trust Warren either; she is already a sellout on the refusal of corporate cash; from where I sit, if one takes money, one is beholden.
BERNIE/TULSI is my ticket
If we do not break thwe back of the war machine--which Tulsi is speaking for-we ain't gonna get anywhere, folks. Not anywhere.
BTW, heartily-wholeh eartedly-recomm end that ALL OF U POSTING--read Dacvid Swanson's Curing Exceptionalism; gotta biru that canard of a trope; we've been suckered by that BIG FAT LIE all our lives.[Swanson is co-founder w/N Solomon of RootsAction] Also read Chris Hedges' America, The Farewell Tour. Depressing but a must read. We gotta put our financial house in order; we gotta re-prioritize where we put money; almost 3/4 of OUR NATIONAL BUDGET goes into WAR WAR WAR.
tulsi is the one asking that question. BERNIE is asking all of the other questions, folks.
BERNIE-TULSI dream ticket.

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