It’s the equivalent of warning the Communist Party USA that their policies on wealth confiscation and closer links with North Korea risk alienating tea-partiers.

In a perfect world, I’d like to think that the ‘centrist’ Ms Leseth is the same Lynn Leseth from San Diego who’s prominent in the city’s Occupy movement, and who’s described in this blog post as “homeless and unemployed”. However, a few minutes Googling proved inconclusive, and anyway it’s almost too good to check.

Leaving aside that this is a contrived storyline, designed to spook the likes of Davids Brooks and Frum into writing more columns pleading with the Republican party to see the light and move towards, and preferably a little way beyond, the political center, as propaganda goes it’s pretty sloppy.

There are doubtless some women who would consider themselves independents, and even moderate conservatives, who are not entirely on board with the Republican message on abortion, contraception and other ‘women’s issues’. But as a rule they don’t actively campaign in support of the abortion industry, and they don’t use slogans like ‘War on Women’.

It’s hard to imagine Republican strategists looking at Leseth and thinking: “Oh my God! If we’ve lost the pro-abortion activist in the ripped jeans and the bandana we’ve lost Middle America!”

Oddly, Leseth isn’t even quoted in the article – perhaps her quotes were cut. But if the Times wanted to effectively illustrate their invented narrative, you’d think they would have found a more suitable subject; say a business-suited thirty-something standing in front of her small business, or a ‘churchgoer’ from deep in flyover country, complete with large family (smaller photos of two women who do appear plausibly ‘centrist’ are featured less prominently in the piece).

The Times’ picture editors didn’t even think to crop out the edge of the Planned Parenthood logo the bottom of Leseth’s ‘Stop the War on Women’ placard. You’d think the picture desk of a left-wing propaganda machine would know how to deceptively edit material to reinforce their desired narrative.

It could be some kind of foul-up, but the more likely explanation is that the Times genuinely believes women like Leseth are straight-down-the-line, independent, uncommitted voters who might just be lured over to the Democrats if the Republicans keep up their crazy, Attila the Hun-like assault on women. After all, most writers working for the paper wouldn’t even acknowledge that they’re lefties. In their world there are just two types of people: ‘normal’ people, like them, and right-wingers.

Republicans should hope the rest of mainstream media has an equally deluded notion of who passes for a ‘centrist’ woman (or man). In the run-up to November it’ll throw off the Democrat’s messaging no end.