Hope for the liberal label and a center-left country

From the New York Times over the weekend:

It seems that “socialist” has supplanted “liberal” as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as “Clinton” was in the 1990s and “Pelosi” is today.

Conservatives like to point to voter self-identification surveys and find that this is a center-right country, while liberals look to polling on specific issues (like support for universal health care and unions) and find a center-left country.

But if conservatives feel like they have to ditch “liberal” as an epithet and move on to “socialist,” well, then, that seems like pretty good evidence to me – straight from the conservatives themselves – of a leftward shift in the U.S.

Or perhaps a good refurbishing of the liberal label by Obama.

Either way, a net plus.

Update: Matthew Yglesias has more.

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