[T]riangulation has involved somewhat more than what you say. It seems to involve extracting, from each side, the most ridiculous and indefensible part of the position and saying that you are against that and a resolution ought to be achieved without it. If done well, this does not really hurt the politician doing it because the issue so rejected is so ridiculous that, exposed and standing alone, that position is not defensible in the MSM or elsewhere.
In the Democrats' stance on welfare, that was the position that welfare recipients should not have to work -- a position that, if forced to confront it, anyone with any sense rejected as nothing but a way of buying votes. The Republicans' view that no money ought to be spent was equally ridiculous, given the long history of the nation's willingness to spend for it, and purely ideological. And the unions have exactly the same kind of position within their stance on education reform, which is that incompetent teachers should not be fired ...
Even if you publicly support the unions, again if you are forced to confront this particular issue it is hard to defend it in a public forum. If a Clinton-like person were to triangulate on education he could easily say that, of course, teachers that can't hack it have to leave. Can you imagine the press protesting that oh, no, incompetent teachers can't be fired? [E.A.]
What he said. When solving a problem requires that a powerful interest group give up its most cherished demand, you won't solve the problem by finding "common ground," "bridge-building," or "compromise." If the "common ground" doesn't include the cherished demand, the interest group won't go along with the project. In order to break the impasse, it helps if a politician can subject the cherished demand to public scrutiny (i.e. ridicule). Turn it it into a liability. That's not finding "common ground." That's triangulatin'! Make the uncommon ground uninhabitable, and all of sudden a new "common" ground starts looking like home. ... When the interest group complains angrily that you are creating a "distraction," "smoke screen," or "scapegoat," you know you are making progress. ...
N.B.: In the 1984 Democratic primary, the issue that Gary Hart (triangulating) extracted and ridiculed Walter Mondale over was, in fact, the issue of firing incompetent teachers. Mondale finally got bludgeoned into admitting in so many words that yes, maybe they should be fired. ... Twenty-four years later, the Democratic candidates don't even dare bring up this core issue--sorry, I mean 'smokescreen.' Instead they half-squabble over the less central, less touchy issue of "merit pay." This is not progress. ... 8:19 P.M.
Putting the Sid Back in Inside Baseball--A Timeline:
Nov. 15--Sidney Blumenthal joins Clinton campaign.
Nov. 17--Columnist Robert Novak writes that
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use.
It can't be that simple. Right? ...
Update: Excitable Joe Klein is outraged! I mean, more than usual! And he's outraged at Novak. ....
Is Klein's point that if agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word that she has scandalaous information about Obama, that this is not worth Novak reporting? Wouldn't it tell you something about Hillary? ... [But you can't report that without reporting the alleged scandalous information-ed Novak didn't report the alleged scandalous information. You can't report it without suggesting that there is a scandalous allegation of some sort-ed That's true. There are two models, I guess.
Model One is Klein's:
Journalists are continually bombarded with rumors, often scurrilous. They are not news. Rumors only become news when they are confirmed, cross-checked and responded to by the target of the attack.