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Shameless

The Bushies are really clever. A lesser campaign team, when faced with the fact that one of their charges has been thoroughly debunked, would stop making it, fearing retaliation. Dubya does no such thing. Today in PA:

The nonpartisan National Journal analyzed his record and named John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate.
Now every reporter in the audience knows that's bogus, but exactly zero of them are going to write about it, because it's "old news." But the local TV newscasts just might pick up the clip and broadcast it into people's living rooms unfiltered. You could find about a hundred examples of things like that, well-debunked allegations that just keep on popping up.

October 6, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Why can't Kerry just admit to his liberal democratic record? What is he afraid of?

Posted by: mark-o | Oct 6, 2004 3:34:45 PM

Whis is this bogus? Did the National Journal not find this? Of course they did. Here is what Charles Green had to say in the National Journal:

"Last November and December, as we have for the past 23 years, National Journal editors and reporters began preparing for the magazine's annual vote ratings of members of Congress. Each year, we pick several dozen votes in three broad issue areas -- economic, social, and foreign -- and identify yea and nay positions as representing a "conservative" or "liberal" stance. Members are then ranked from the most liberal to the most conservative in each issue area. Members also receive a composite liberal score and a composite conservative score -- basically an average of their issue-based scores.

When the tabulations came in for 2003, John Kerry had the highest composite liberal score of any senator.

But there was an asterisk. As with other lawmakers who were running for president, Kerry missed a lot of votes in 2003 -- 37 of the 62 that were being used in the vote ratings. He didn't vote often enough to merit scores in the social-policy and foreign-affairs categories. (Under our system, a member has to participate in at least half the votes in a category to receive a score in that category.) He did cast enough votes (19 of 32) in the economic category to get a rating. On those votes, Kerry took the "liberal" position every time.That was the basis for Kerry's receiving a composite liberal score for 2003 that was higher than any other senator's score.Some critics of our rating system have questioned why Kerry should have gotten a composite score at all since he didn't vote enough to qualify for scores in two of our three categories. The answer, in a nutshell, is because that's the way we've done it in the past. Gary Hart, Al Gore, Paul Simon, Jack Kemp, and Jesse Helms are examples of members of Congress who have received composite scores from National Journal over the past 20 years even though they didn't vote enough to receive a rating in all three categories.We knew that rating Kerry as the most liberal senator in 2003 would be controversial. But it seemed to us that not giving Kerry a composite score because of his many absences -- to, in effect, change our vote-rating rules in the middle of the game -- would be unfair. It would expose National Journal to charges of partisanship."

Now admittedly he says that there is an asterisk but that still was the finding. And Kerry is the 11th most liberal of the 48 Democratic Senators over his lifetime:

"1 Mark Dayton, D-Minn. (2000) 90.3
2 Paul Sarbanes, D-Md. (1976) 89.4
3 Jack Reed, D-R.I. (1996) 89.3
4 Jon Corzine, D-N.J. (2000) 88.8
5 Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. (1962) 88.6
6 Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. (1992) 88.5
7 Tom Harkin, D-Iowa (1984) 87.6
8 Richard Durbin, D-Ill. (1996) 87.3
9 Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. (1982) 86.2
10 Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (1974) 86.0
11 John Kerry, D-Mass. (1984) 85.7"

http://nationaljournal.com/cgi-bin/ifetch4?ENG+NJMAG-_-HOUSE_RACE_HOTLINE-_-POLL_TRACK-_-AD_SPOTLIGHT+7-njindex+1109370-REVERSE+0+1+865+F+2+217+1+senate+AND+voting+AND+records

If the past several months are any guide, more than a handful of convention speakers will mount the stage at Madison Square Garden this week and label John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate.Some will go on to say that Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, is the fourth-most-liberal senator, and they will describe the Kerry-Edwards ticket as the most liberal presidential ticket of all time.As for their source, the speakers will cite one publication: the (take your pick) nonpartisan, nonideological, or authoritative National Journal -- the weekly magazine that is producing the newspaper you're reading now.President Bush has cited National Journal's ranking of Kerry. So have Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne. Newt Gingrich mentions us all the time. So does Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. We've even been discussed on Comedy Central's Daily Show With Jon Stewart.In short, our magazine -- or, more precisely, our annual congressional vote ratings edition -- has become a Republican talking point in the 2004 presidential campaign. And that's been a fascinating, and disconcerting, experience. Fascinating because we're more used to being cited in congressional hearings than on the Today show. Disconcerting because the shorthand used to describe our ratings of Kerry and Edwards is sometimes misleading -- or just plain wrong.Here's the background:Last November and December, as we have for the past 23 years, National Journal editors and reporters began preparing for the magazine's annual vote ratings of members of Congress. Each year, we pick several dozen votes in three broad issue areas -- economic, social, and foreign -- and identify yea and nay positions as representing a "conservative" or "liberal" stance. Members are then ranked from the most liberal to the most conservative in each issue area. Members also receive a composite liberal score and a composite conservative score -- basically an average of their issue-based scores.When the tabulations came in for 2003, John Kerry had the highest composite liberal score of any senator.But there was an asterisk. As with other lawmakers who were running for president, Kerry missed a lot of votes in 2003 -- 37 of the 62 that were being used in the vote ratings. He didn't vote often enough to merit scores in the social-policy and foreign-affairs categories. (Under our system, a member has to participate in at least half the votes in a category to receive a score in that category.) He did cast enough votes (19 of 32) in the economic category to get a rating. On those votes, Kerry took the "liberal" position every time.That was the basis for Kerry's receiving a composite liberal score for 2003 that was higher than any other senator's score.Some critics of our rating system have questioned why Kerry should have gotten a composite score at all since he didn't vote enough to qualify for scores in two of our three categories. The answer, in a nutshell, is because that's the way we've done it in the past. Gary Hart, Al Gore, Paul Simon, Jack Kemp, and Jesse Helms are examples of members of Congress who have received composite scores from National Journal over the past 20 years even though they didn't vote enough to receive a rating in all three categories.We knew that rating Kerry as the most liberal senator in 2003 would be controversial. But it seemed to us that not giving Kerry a composite score because of his many absences -- to, in effect, change our vote-rating rules in the middle of the game -- would be unfair. It would expose National Journal to charges of partisanship.It didn't take long after the ratings were published in February for Republicans and talking heads to start using Kerry's rating as a weapon against him. Sometimes, the people citing the ratings would note that Kerry was ranked as the most liberal senator in 2003. More often, the sound bite would be that National Journal had ranked Kerry as "the most liberal senator," without any reference to 2003. Occasionally, Republicans would assert that Kerry had been ranked the most liberal senator on the basis of his entire Senate career.Vice President Cheney made such a claim at a campaign appearance in Minnesota this month. "John Kerry is, by National Journal ratings, the most liberal member of the United States Senate," Cheney said. "Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts. It's true. All you've got to do is go look at the ratings system. And that captures a lot, I think, in terms of somebody's philosophy. And it's not based on one vote, or one year; it's based on 20 years of service in the United States Senate."But if the standard is votes over a lifetime, Kerry isn't the most liberal senator. By that measure, Kerry is the 11th-most-liberal senator, coming in below such Democrats as Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Barbara Boxer of California, and, yes, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, according to a National Journal analysis published in March.John Edwards, who was ranked the fourth-most-liberal senator in 2003 (and who also missed many votes that year), is the 27th-most-liberal senator based on votes over his career.Whether the scores of Kerry and Edwards in 2003, when they were pursuing their party's nomination and appealing to Democratic primary voters, are more relevant than are their lifetime scores is a matter of opinion, of course. Democrats tend to say that a lifetime score is a more useful barometer. Republicans counter that the votes that Kerry and Edwards cast in 2003 are fair game. Also open to debate is the relevance of the terms "liberal" and "conservative."When Kerry was asked in a nationally televised debate in February about being rated "the most liberal senator in the Senate," he replied that it was a "laughable characterization. It's absolutely the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life." He went on to say that "labels are so silly in American politics," and he questioned whether his votes against the Bush-backed Medicare bill or Bush-backed tax cuts should be considered "liberal" votes.Al From and Bruce Reed, the chief executive officer and president, respectively, of the Democratic Leadership Council, made a similar case in a recent column questioning the ratings. National Journal's rating system, they argued, "makes a decidedly subjective judgment about what is a 'liberal' vote and what is a 'conservative' vote that is based more on partisan than ideological differences, ensuring that most Democrats will have very liberal ratings."From and Reed are right that identifying "liberal" and "conservative" votes is subjective. National Journal has never claimed otherwise. But their contention that National Journal's rating system ensures that most Democrats will have "very liberal ratings" is a stretch. As the table on p. 4 shows, 28 of the 48 Senate Democrats have lifetime scores below 80. Sixteen have lifetime scores below 70. As the record shows, Democrats don't all vote alike.Like most talking points, National Journal's 2003 vote ratings will be forgotten soon enough. And our days of being cited repeatedly on talk shows, in the press, on the campaign trail, and, perhaps, at a national political convention -- will be over.On one level, we'll no doubt miss the attention. But all the same, we'd just as soon let someone else have the honor next time around.

Posted by: Cheeky Lawyer | Oct 6, 2004 3:40:35 PM

Why do most americans think "liberal" is a curse word? I am Canadian, our liberal party was corrupt and wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars and we were ready to kick them out until our conservitive party (our version of Rebublicans) started talking about sending troops to Iraq, missle defence and same sex marriage. We voted them back in because we know corruption can be fixed but religious ideology cannot. Spain voted out their leaders NOT because of terror but because 85% of the people did not want to send troops to Iraq and the government did so anyway. Is that not the pratice of the same freedom you claim to have mastered?
Should the country that couldn't get their own vote right in 2000 really be show other countries how to vote?

Posted by: Nathan | Oct 6, 2004 4:28:06 PM

Apparently, to Matthew, the word "bogus" means "true". Who knew?

Posted by: Al | Oct 6, 2004 4:52:27 PM

Cheeky Lawyer, did you read the whole article you posted? National Journal specifically criticized Cheney for presenting their results the way he did in the debate. I'll repost the appropriate portion:


Sometimes, the people citing the ratings would note that Kerry was ranked as the most liberal senator in 2003. More often, the sound bite would be that National Journal had ranked Kerry as "the most liberal senator," without any reference to 2003. Occasionally, Republicans would assert that Kerry had been ranked the most liberal senator on the basis of his entire Senate career.Vice President Cheney made such a claim at a campaign appearance in Minnesota this month. "John Kerry is, by National Journal ratings, the most liberal member of the United States Senate," Cheney said. "Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts. It's true. All you've got to do is go look at the ratings system. And that captures a lot, I think, in terms of somebody's philosophy. And it's not based on one vote, or one year; it's based on 20 years of service in the United States Senate." But if the standard is votes over a lifetime, Kerry isn't the most liberal senator.

There's a reason Cheney didn't say "most liberal senator based on votes cast in 2003 alone." That would have been too accurate. Well, at least he didn't flat out lie this time and explicity say that the ranking was based on Kerry's whole career, the way he did before.

Posted by: JakeV | Oct 6, 2004 5:01:27 PM

Ah, looking back at Matt's post, I see it was Bush, not Cheney, who was deceptively presenting the National Journal results. My apologies for the error.

The full, quote, by the way, is this:

During his 20 years as a senator, my opponent hasn't had many accomplishments. Of the hundreds of bills he submitted, only five became law. One of them was ceremonial. But to be fair, he's earned a special distinction in Congress. The nonpartisan National Journal analyzed his record and named John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

AUDIENCE: Booo!


That right there is deception.

Posted by: JakeV | Oct 6, 2004 5:13:39 PM

During those same 20 years, george bush spent some of them as a drunk, some of them leading a failed business from which he was bailed out by daddy's friends, some of them as the front man for a front man for an extortionate real estate deal for the texas rangers ballclub (which he bought into with the proceeds of daddy's friends bailing him out), some of it pretending to be an old-time cattle rancher with the ranch he bought with his payoff from his grateful limited partners on the texas rangers, some of it as the governor of a very weak governor state, and the last 4 years as the most dishonest person to occupy the white house ever (including richard nixon and lyndon johnson, which takes some doing).

And i don't have to make any of this up, either.

Posted by: howard | Oct 6, 2004 5:30:31 PM

What are the liberal talking points?

If we had any, they would only tell part of the story.

But we don't have any.

I don't know why the Kerry campaign or the DNC or Carville has not produced a list of 5 or 6 factoids that we could all fall back on.

Maybe next election.

Posted by: Kurt Vine | Oct 6, 2004 5:38:31 PM

Well maybe we do have some:

1. The economy lost nearly a million jobs while Bush was in office.

2. The economy grew 70% slower under Bush than it did under Jimmy Carter.

3. George Bush let Bin Laden escape at Tora Bora

4. Because Bush took his focus away from Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda and its allies were able to commit more acts of terror in the three years after 9/11 than the three years before

5. George Bush is the first president during the television era who cannot use a teleprompter, and needs someone to read some of his speeches into his ear by an earpiece earpiece.

Posted by: Kurt Vine | Oct 6, 2004 6:11:00 PM

Matthew, what are you talking about?

The National Journal DID label John Kerry the most Liberal member of the Senate.

Posted by: Kevin Gregory | Oct 6, 2004 6:33:14 PM

John Kerry IS the most liberal member of the Senate, if you exclude Pat Leahy, Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, and a bunch of other people from "the Senate." Anyway, it's true that John Kerry is the most liberal member of the subset of the senate that is at least as conservative as he is.

Posted by: Julian Elson | Oct 6, 2004 7:44:47 PM

'Why can't Kerry just admit to his liberal democratic record? What is he afraid of?'

Well from what Matthew is implying calling him a 'liberal' is unfair. The Democrats must be ashamed of his record somehow.

Posted by: Ral | Oct 6, 2004 8:26:59 PM

Ral-

There's a difference between "liberal" and "the most liberal." "The most liberal" implies radicalism in a way that "liberal" doesn't. No?


Posted by: JakeV | Oct 6, 2004 9:16:10 PM

The Kerry campaign has a little card of talking points. You just have to get one. That's the hard part. It's quite glossy, actually, a bit big for a wallet but handy.
Specimen: "Loss of 1.6 million private sector jobs. The only President in 72 years to lose jobs."
These talking points have the inestimable advantage of being true.

Posted by: John Isbell | Oct 6, 2004 10:29:32 PM

Just wanted to know since I have worked in potical research fo 15 years are you famliar with two people beisides Mary & John:

Stan Greenberg
Richard(Dick) Dresner
Carole Lasseroff
Mark Melllman
Evans McDonough
I have moore!!!

Posted by: Lisa | Oct 6, 2004 11:01:29 PM

'There's a difference between "liberal" and "the most liberal." "The most liberal" implies radicalism in a way that "liberal" doesn't. No?'

The 'most liberal' implies that in the context of the body he is a member of he was the most liberal. That doesn't mean he's radical.

Posted by: Ral | Oct 7, 2004 7:59:13 AM

Let me defend this rating: Based on those issues Kerry actually cared enough about to bother voting on, he's the most liberal member of the Senate. He's somewhat more conservative about subjects he doesn't give a damn about.

Does that really sound better? Because it's certainly accurate.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Oct 7, 2004 8:01:17 AM

Cheeky Lawyer: "Whis is this bogus?"

Uh, OK. Because, as JakeV discovered, the one-year rating was mentioned in the context of Kerry's entire Senate career.

Next time, JakeV, don't apologize so quickly. Right on!

Posted by: Grumpy | Oct 7, 2004 8:38:36 AM

So, saying that Kerry is the most liberal is wrong because it doesn't go over his lifetime of votes.

Interesting. Now "is" means "old news".
In 1998, "is" meant right now and no other time, otherwise it was a lie under oath (which, it was).

Don't you guys get tired of changing definitions to suit your needs (don't answer)?

The big question, Matt, is why "liberal" is an anathema to the American public at large. Then again, that's not really that big a question, is it?

Posted by: Ricky | Oct 7, 2004 11:33:45 AM

You are right. I should have been a bit more accurate. John Kerry was the most liberal senator of 2003. Cheney's remark is clearly political hyperbole but a lie it ain't.

Posted by: Cheeky Lawyer | Oct 7, 2004 11:53:30 AM

Ricky also raises the right point. Shouldn't Kerry embrace the liberal label? What's wrong with it?

Posted by: Cheeky Lawyer | Oct 7, 2004 11:54:40 AM

"Shouldn't Kerry embrace the liberal label? What's wrong with it?"

I think it's due to the fact that the label got taken over by Fabian socialists decades ago, and today's "liberals" aren't so much interested in "liberty", as they are in using the coercive power of government to shoehorn everyone else into their conception of the good.

There's nothing quite so frightening to somebody who just wants to be left alone, (The grand ambition of the average American.) as someone who's determined to do what's "good for them", whether they like it or not.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Oct 7, 2004 12:23:00 PM

Don't forget the bigger picture. Bogus deceptiosn are repeated all the time, long after they've been debunked.

Wednesday evening, I listened to some radio whacko going on-and-on about how Edwards must still be hurting from Cheney saying that they had never met after all those years of shared Senate time.

Posted by: Rodger | Oct 7, 2004 3:31:53 PM

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