Reed Richardson, in a superb post, writes the following (boldface mine):
Judging by the rest of the article and his [Fournier’s] curt, somewhat dismissive one-word Tweet, though, I suspect it’s difficult for him to answer because he, like many other Beltway pundits, is essentially reverse engineering political policy. He/they start by outlining the mechanics and maybe some broad characteristics of their grand bargain ideal and then try to work backwards to figure out the corresponding policy elements. Actually, that’s not quite true, because all too often these Beltway pundits don’t really bother with the heavy lifting of figuring out how the concomitant parts of these grand bargains would work, or if they would work at all….
This is perhaps the most important lesson Fournier and many others in our opinion media firmament need to learn. To routinely bemoan our messy exercise of partisan politics in relentless pursuit of some contrived, chimerical bipartisan solution that bundles all our problems up into one neat package is to present the public with a false choice. In the end, the institutional arrogance of grand bargain hunting not only shortchanges the very real impact politics has on people’s lives, it ignores the growing ideological extremism of this country’s right wing. And worst of all, it undermines the very foundations of democracy itself.
I would actually take it farther than Richardson does. By elevating grand bargains, the political press actually provides an incentive for the very partisanship they decry. If the ultimate goal is compromise, as opposed to good policy outcomes, then each (or every) side should be as extreme as possible. Any actor that moderates its stance risks an outcome that is much farther away from the Blessed Center than it would like. If the press corps were to first and foremost judge policies on outcomes (although many of them are too ignorant and ideologically blinkered to do so accurately), then any ‘extremism’ would be judged on the merits, not the positioning. Instead, the chattering class has enabled and encouraged extremism.
Of course, that encouraged extremism means they will never run out of things to complain about in columns and on the teevee machine, so I guess it’s a pretty good gig if you can swing it.