“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein are as sober and even-handed a pair of policy analysts and political commentators as you’ll find in Washington.

They work respectively for the centrist Brookings Institution and the conservative American Enterprise Institute.  They each have a list of academic, policy and professional credentials longer than both your arms combined.

This humble blog is pleased to add to their list of accomplishments by naming them the first joint recipients of the Dionne Award—presented irregularly at the whim of this blog to a “habitually even-tempered and fair-minded commentator for excellence in expressing moral outrage”.

As Mann and Ornstein themselves note in this recent op-ed column in the Washington Post, they’ve regularly and repeatedly criticized Republicans and Democrats for partisan activity undertaken at the expense of what they see as the common good.  And, as they note, something has changed in American political culture in recent decades.

With the post-civil rights era reshuffling of party loyalties say Mann & Ornstein, “While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.” (emphasis added)

The country needs more even-tempered, fair-minded people to join Mann & Ornstein in pointing out the obvious:  today’s Republican Party is not only too conservative to nominate Ronald Reagan; it’s too conservative to nominate George W. Bush or John McCain as its presidential candidate.

Crossposted at: http://masscommons.wordpress.com/