Forgive my ignorance, but wasn't he instrumental in opening up diplomatic negotiations with the People's Republic of China? He also created the EPA and was pro-solar/geothermal energy, he was a supporter of Keynesian economics and of Affirmative Action. I don't see how that's not classified as liberal, diplomatic, or progressive?
Do you consider hating homosexuals, planning to spread rumours that certain people are homosexuals to discredit them, hating jews, and going on anti-semitic rants in the white house about how you cant trust any jewish bastard while sitting in the oval office liberal and progressive? How about using the FBI, CIA, and IRS to intentionally harass people that are opponents? What about bugging offices and breaking and entering?
All of this is on record and documented and it certainly does not paint the picture of a progressive liberal, regardless of a couple of positions that were taken for the sake of popularity.
No, I don't consider it liberal and progressive, but to discount someone's achievements in office because of personal issues is idiotic, in my opinion. You can't disregard him as a liberal/progressive/whatever because of that. Harry Truman made racist remarks and FDR took it a step further by putting Japanese-Americans (y'know, legal citizens) in internment camps (the equivalent of putting all Muslims in a camp because they could attack the U.S.), but he's still hailed a hero by liberals and progressives.
Kennedy, FDR, and possibly Clinton also used the IRS to harass political rivals as well. And most people would consider FDR/Clinton liberal/progressive, would they not? Kennedy being progressive/liberal is debatable, however.
I don't know if it's the entire conservative movement that has lost their mind, just the loudest voices in the movement. The Tea Party is usually the group used as an example when talking about the downfall of conservative politics in the U.S. but they're not the majority by far, just a very loud minority (and that is probably what most mainstream media viewers see and imitate) which has members in the U.S. Senate and Congress (Five Senators out of 100, and 48 Congresspeople out of 435). The worst, in my opinion, being Senator Rand Paul, seeing as how he had so much potential to carry on his father's legacy, he could've probably made a White House run. There are sane Republicans/Conservatives, but their voices are constantly overshadowed by the minority of Tea Partiers/Far-Right Conservatives.
Considering that 100% of Republican presidential hopefuls last election screeched endlessly about entitlements and how the Affordable Care Act was basically a Marxist revolution, I don't think what you say is true. They may have nominated Romney- a moderate- but he had to pretend he was a far-right loon.
The people who ran, Huntsman, Romney, Santorum, Cain, Paul, and Johnson didn't. (Unless you're talking about Senate/Congressional elections?) With Santorum, Cain, and Romney, I did see a bit of screeching regarding entitlements and the ACA, but the other half, Huntsman, Paul, and Johnson were more level-headed in their approach and didn't try to pander to any one group. Huntsman was (I think, don't quote me) a moderate, Paul was a right-Libertarian, and Johnson was a left-Libertarian. And they didn't 'screech' about anything. It was more like 50%, if that.
The problem, in my opinion, with the entire Republican Party is that they're no different than the Democratic Party except on a few issues, mainly Obamacare, Gay Rights, and Abortion.
How about guns, taxes, climate change, economic regulation, defense spending welfare and pretty much all issues relating to women and minorities?
Fair point, but the difference isn't significant in a lot of those areas. Republicans aren't arguing for fully-automatic rifles and no taxes, they just have different ways of approaching it. Also, defense spending hasn't really changed all that much between the Obama Administration (Democrat) and the Bush Administration (Republican), it's stayed fairly stagnant, with only minor growth under Obama.