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Kerry's Senate Voting Record

The Truth About Kerry, #622 in a series of a 1,000.

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Regarding President Bush’s claim that Senator Kerry is the most liberal Senator in Congress:

Earlier this year, National Journal identified Kerry as the senator with the most liberal voting record in 2003, not over the course of his career.

When the National Journal looked at Kerry’s entire Senate voting record, the magazine determined that Kerry was not the “most liberal” senator. In fact, the National Journal reported in March that "10 other current senators have a lifetime composite liberal score that is higher than Kerry’s.

But even the single “measure” the Republicans can cite credibly – the National Journal’s rating on Kerry’s 2003 voting record – can fairly be called into question.

The National Journal ranks senators based on their votes in three categories: economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. However, because Kerry missed so many votes while campaigning in 2003, the National Journal lacked sufficient data to grade him on social policy or foreign policy.

Thus, Kerry’s 2003 ranking is based solely on his 2003 votes on economic policy – an area in which the National Journal has traditionally seen Kerry as significantly more liberal than he is on, say, foreign policy.

And even when it comes to the 2003 economic policy votes the National Journal counted, it’s not entirely clear that Kerry’s views should be deemed “liberal.” The National Journal included 32 Senate roll calls in its economic policy rankings. Kerry voted in 19 of those. In each of those 19, Kerry’s vote was exactly the same as that cast by a majority of the Senate’s Democrats.

On average, 46 senators – including 3.6 Republicans – sided with Kerry on the 19 votes used in his National Journal ranking. On 12 of the 19 votes, at least one Republican joined Kerry. On three of them – votes against loans for the construction of nuclear power plants, against the study of offshore oil and gas drilling and against the privatization of air traffic controllers – 10 or more Republicans joined Kerry.

And it wasn’t just crossover moderates like McCain or Maine’s Olympia Snowe. North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole voted with Kerry on the offshore drilling measure; Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe voted with Kerry on the air traffic controllers; and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel voted with Kerry on a Medicare issue.

While Kerry led the National Journal’s liberal rankings during the first few years of his Senate tenure, he moved to the middle after he was reelected in 1990.

“Kerry was especially moderate in his second term when it came to foreign policy issues,” the National Journal’s Richard E. Cohen wrote in February as the magazine unveiled its 2003 rankings. “He opposed the liberal position in key Senate showdowns on missile defense and intelligence spending in 1993 and on procurement of additional F-18 Navy fighters in 1996 … Kerry also voted with President Clinton and congressional Republicans, but against many liberals, in favor of welfare reform in 1996, and he occasionally split from organized labor on workplace issues.”

I don’t know where you got this, but it basically jibes with what I saw on factcheck.org – except for one little omission.

Over his career, Kerry ranks as the 11th most liberal Senator according to National Journal rankings. Of course, this doesn’t mean too much without knowing how they based their rankings, or who they even ranked him against (i.e. everyone in the Senate now? Only those in the Senate at the same time? By adding up his individual ranks, getting an average, and then comparing the average against other Senators’ average rankings?).

Still, Kerry’s pretty damn liberal when compared to the mean or the median, no matter if you slice it as “most liberal” or just as in the 89th percentile…

In other words, with a score of 89 and a generous curve that we will apply to save his self esteem, Kerry gets a solid A- for liberal voting. =-)

wasn’t it pointed out in the debate last night that if you count Kerry as voting “yes” to taxes some 95 times, using the same system he voted “no” about 600?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
In other words, with a score of 89 and a generous curve that we will apply to save his self esteem, Kerry gets a solid A- for liberal voting. =-)[/quote]

Sure, but there’s quite a bit of difference in labeling him “the most liberal Senator” and 11th place.

For instance, if I told you that I competed in a powerlifting contest and got first place, when in reality I got 11th, you wouldn’t think much of me, would you?

A lie is a lie.

And, as noted, his most “liberal” votes were in support of the environment.

It wasn’t a lie – your article noted it.

At most, it was an omission of extra detail – It’s as if I told you someone was the #1 Golfer in the world but neglected to say his lifetime ranking was only 11th.

He was the most liberal Senator for 2003 according to the ranking. That was the most recent ranking, given we are in 2004. So Kerry is last year’s Liberal Champion! I hope he got his trophy.

I don’t know that it’s incumbent on the President to explain the workings of their ranking system – remember, they are a liberal group, and they meant it as a compliment.

BB,

Still playing word games I see. It doesn’t matter how you stretch, distort or omit the truth, as long as some fact somewhere supports it somehow.

I know word games is in fact the province of the lawyer, which is part of the reason most of the populace hates lawyers so much, but really, do you actually believe what you say or just represent it because of your political bias?

Under your scenario I can concoct a group and a measurement system that will determine Bush to be the most neo-con republican. I could then say so on national TV and mislead an entire population with this fact. And of course, according to you, that would be perfectly okay.

You are a lawyer. You are familiar with the concept of due care. The politicians owe the populace some level of due care with respect to facts and claims.

Perhaps that level is zero, and we simply resort to mudslinging. However, if it is above zero, then consider that we are getting reckless, irresponsible and perhaps negligent political behavior out of our politicians these days.

As the US is the land of the lawsuit and the lawyer, perhaps they should be sued for these misrepresentations as part of a massive class action lawsuit against the DNC and RNC with respect to the irreparable damage being done to the very democratic system which the country is based upon.

Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away.

Earlier this year, National Journal identified Kerry as the senator with the most liberal voting record in 2003, not over the course of his career.

And only 10 other senators have a more lifetime liberal voting record? Oh…well then it’s okay…as long as he was merely voted most liberal for 2003, and is only number 10 in a lifetime. Glad you cleared that one up. Ha ha, come on. Your time would be better spent telling us why we need a liberal as President than trying to state that he is not all that liberal.

I think Kerry is the most liberal candidate that the democrats have fielded since George McGovern in 1972. Read about the Nixon, McGovern election, interesting stuff. Nixon won the largest electoral landslide in the history of Presidential elections! The only state to vote for McGovern was Massachusetts (they always have a hard time getting it right).

Back to Kerry: Anyone who voted against parental notification relative to minor girls getting an abortion (when they can’t even get their ears pierced without notification) is a liberal!

Anyone who voted against the Gulf War in 1991 when virtually every nation and most Senators were on board, is a liberal!

I could go on, but what’s the point. Those who follow this election know that Kerry is a liberal. If you want a liberal for President vote for John Kerry. Don’t be ashamed of the word liberal…embrace it, if that’s what you are.

[quote]vroom wrote:
BB,

Still playing word games I see. It doesn’t matter how you stretch, distort or omit the truth, as long as some fact somewhere supports it somehow.

I know word games is in fact the province of the lawyer, which is part of the reason most of the populace hates lawyers so much, but really, do you actually believe what you say or just represent it because of your political bias?

Under your scenario I can concoct a group and a measurement system that will determine Bush to be the most neo-con republican. I could then say so on national TV and mislead an entire population with this fact. And of course, according to you, that would be perfectly okay.

You are a lawyer. You are familiar with the concept of due care. The politicians owe the populace some level of due care with respect to facts and claims.

Perhaps that level is zero, and we simply resort to mudslinging. However, if it is above zero, then consider that we are getting reckless, irresponsible and perhaps negligent political behavior out of our politicians these days.

As the US is the land of the lawsuit and the lawyer, perhaps they should be sued for these misrepresentations as part of a massive class action lawsuit against the DNC and RNC with respect to the irreparable damage being done to the very democratic system which the country is based upon.

Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away.[/quote]

vroom:

While in the abstract what you say often sounds interesting, it generally reinforces your need to acquaint yourself with the facts.

  1. No one made up the National Journal. It is an organization of long-standing in Washington, and it is what it is. They have been ranking Senators for years – go look it up. You’ll notice no one familiar with the organization is attacking it as a biased source, and your argument makes no sense unless you’re attacking the source of the ranking. I wouldn’t expect you to be familiar with the National Journal, but you shouldn’t go off with projections based on your fantasies.

  2. You don’t need any standard of “due care” in order to say things that are true. To the extent due care would be applicable, it would be as an affirmative defense against a slander charge. However, firstly, it is almost impossible to for a public official to win a slader/libel case, due to protections of political speech in the 1st Amendment. Secondly, due care would never entail an affirmative duty of explaining for everyone the methodology of the author of a statistic you cited.

  3. I’m constantly amused by your tendency to cry “word games” and then not point to any way I’ve twisted any words. The fact is National Journal rated Kerry the most liberal Senator in 2003. If anything, you attempt to twist my arguments and then argue against straw men – however, I usually just let it stand, as I assume the readers of this site are quite smart enough to see that for themselves.