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moderates

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Some of my middle-of-the-road columnist friends keep ascribing our difficulties to structural problems in our politics. But the problem we face isn't about structures or the party system. It's about ideology.

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California's celebrity governor has thrown his muscle behind the McCain campaign. Despite the occasional pander, McCain still plays better with California's moderates than Mitt Romney, who appears to have been embraced, if reluctantly, by the more conservative elements of his party.

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Barack Obama's determination to unite Americans and his strong electoral showing in Iowa, fueled in no small part by independents, have taken the wind out of Michael Bloomberg's sails. The New York mayor has been, by some accounts, considering an independent run for president, but now there just doesn't seem to be much of a point.

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Sen. Richard Lugar, the Indiana Republican who has long served as his party's voice of moderation on foreign affairs, is better known for judiciousness than courage. As the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has certainly taken his time assessing the catastrophic war in Iraq.

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A delegation of 11 moderate House Republicans visited the White House on Tuesday to warn the president that he risks losing more support from his party if conditions in Iraq do not improve by fall. The lawmakers lamented dwindling support for the war among their constituencies during the meeting, which was described as "no-holds-barred."

Interviews

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The best-selling author of "The End of Faith" talks about the way to navigate a dinner party without coming off as the Antichrist; about the "Salman Rushdie effect" that accompanies his newfound celebrity as America's most prominent atheist; and about the new secular foundation he is founding.

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The cartoon-fueled hysteria continues unabated:

  • In Libya: 10 die in the bloodiest protests yet
  • In Russia: Authorities shut down a newspaper that printed a tame cartoon of Muhammad, along with other religious figurescom/2006/02/18/nyregion/18protesthtml" title="In Manhattan:">In Manhattan: 1,000 protesters rally in front of the Danish consulatecom/2006/02/19/international/europe/19cartoonhtml?_r=1&oref=slogin" title="In Italy:">In Italy: An official quits after wearing a T-shirt with the controversial Muhammad cartoons
  • Update:
  • 16 Killed in Nigerian cartoon protests, along with five this week in Pakistan
  • Hey, Muslim centrists/moderates, if you want to do something to quell this insane violence, now would be a pretty good time to do so.

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