I’ve asked this question before in a similar context, but it bears being asked again, especially in the light of two recent stories. In an AP story yesterday, the reporter seems to think “liberals” want us out of Iraq immediately.

On the issue of Iraq, [Sen. Hillary] Clinton has been buffeted by competing forces within her party. Many elements of the party’s liberal base want an immediate or timed withdrawal of troops from Iraq, while others feel such a position may weaken the party’s electoral chances this year and in 2008.

…Last week, many in the audience of a more liberal group http://home.ourfuture.org/ booed Clinton when she said she opposed setting a fixed date for troop withdrawal.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s article yesterday again paints “liberals” as the ones wanting us out of Iraq.

Liberals wanted a firm date for troop withdrawals, but others argued for a more moderate approach that would urge, but not compel, Bush to start a drawdown this year. Efforts to reconcile the two camps failed, resulting in the competing measures that were voted on yesterday.

I consider myself a proud liberal, though I like many others have been using the term “progressive” because I think it’s more accurate: I believe in making progress toward a more cooperative, compassionate society that demands both individual and societal responsibility rather than the “live-and-let-live” idea that the word “liberal” connotes. But I oppose setting a public deadline at which time we pull out troops from Iraq. For all the opposition I had before the war, broadcasting a near-term date for withdrawal is unwise, in my opinion. I think the president should say that he’s given the Iraqis clear goals on troop training, governmental progress, etc. that he’ll adhere to, and publicly say that our commitment in Iraq is not open-ended. Does that make me a “moderate”?

And what’s a conservative on this issue? Conservatives have historically shied away from foreign entanglements. And with the war’s decreasing popularity, at what point do those “staying the course” become “extremists,” defined as someone who takes a position farthest from the center?

Finally, at the NDN conference I attended the past two days (more on that later), virtually everyone used the word “progressive.” Even the group that booed Hillary Clinton for her stance on Iraq, uses “progressives” on its web site, instead of “liberal.”

With the media so willing to use the conservatives’ term “death tax” to describe the inheritance tax., why can’t they use the term “progressive” for our side?