Behold: We have entered the Age When Dinos and Rinos rule the Earth. See them battle each other for absolute dominion!
While this might sound like a cool monster mash of the "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" variety, it's a good deal less exciting and more depressing, like a taste test between 2 percent milk and soy milk. What we are witnessing is the dawn of the Boring Phase of the Great Republican Realignment, and it promises to have liberals and conservatives alike going bonkers.
I should back up. Dinos, of course, are "Democrats in name only." Rinos are their GOP counterparts. Nobody actually ever admits to being a Republican in name only. Rather, these are epithets used to describe politicians of insufficient ideological purity or partisan backbone. Think David Gergen without the smoldering sexual intensity. Or, if you can't, think moderates, wets, squishes, apostates, New York Times-pleasing "mavericks," centrists and all the others who want to "get beyond labels" or get a standing ovation at the Brookings Institution.
Galloping toward the center is nothing new. The parties have always regressed to the mean. The center of gravity is in the, uh, center. What's changed is that the center has - finally - been moving an eensy bit to the right. People forget now, but Bush's compassionate conservatism was never intended to be radical, it was meant to be the Republican version of feel-your-pain Clintonism. If Bush's domestic spending were a Broadway musical, reviewers would call it "Lavish!" and "Spectacular!" His big first-term domestic initiatives - aside from tax cuts - were an education bill co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, campaign finance "reform" favored by the sensible shoes types, and the biggest expansion in entitlements (the prescription drug benefit) since the Great Society.
Now, you wouldn't know any of this from listening to Democrats and vast swaths of the mainstream media. If you went by this crowd, you might imagine George W. Bush and Dick Cheney robed in ermine, drinking blood-red wine from golden goblets as they pored over maps of the world, plotting new conquests and singling out whistle-blowing CIA agents for the lash and the gibbet.
And the congressional GOP, we've been told, is little more than an Anabaptist horde bent on burning down the nation under the twin banners of Terry Schiavo and creationism.