In a column last year about smoking, I gave my definitions of liberals and conservatives. I wrote as follows:
A liberal: A person who believes that consenting adults may have any sort of sex they like but shouldn't be allowed a cigarette afterwards.
A conservative: A person who has his underwear perpetually in a bunch but blames the laundry for the situation.
My definition of a liberal is true enough, alas, but now I would add an alternative definition for a conservative: A person whose personal prejudices are arranged into a political theory to justify their innate selfishness.
My greater point is that plenty of conservatives are not conservative and plenty of liberals are not liberal. If these definitions are not already elastic enough, it's nothing compared with the terms "left" and "right." No wonder these terms are confused. Their origin can be traced back to where the deputies sat in the French National Assembly of 1789.
I am proud to describe myself as a liberal, heir to an honorable tradition, but I don't believe I am a leftist. And as a liberal centrist who shares something in common with conservative moderates, I was put off by the lead story in today's Post-Gazette" "Liberals a Sideshow in Denver: But Move to Center Is Clear."
No, there are liberals at the center, too, and it plays to the talk radio stereotype of liberals to suggest otherwise.