Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Gottlieb on Kerry's Liberalism


Martin Gottlieb is one of my favorite of the wacky liberals on the DDN editorial board. He's trying to paint John Kerry as some sort of moderate:
Kerry has had a liberal voting record. Of course. He’s a Democrat who’s not from the South. He’s in the mainstream of people in that category. And that’s what gets called liberal.

Compare him to Ohio’s two most recent Democratic senators, John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum. Glenn was seen as a moderate liberal. Liberal groups would generally say he agreed with them about 80 percent of the time on their pet issues, or a little less. For Metzenbaum, the number was often 100 percent. The difference between the two can be seen as splitting hairs, because they were fundamentally allies. Kerry’s ratings have typically been between theirs.

As popular as Kerry is with the liberal groups, though, that’s how popular President George W. Bush is with their conservative counterparts. Maybe that’s why the Bush people don’t think they can get very far with swing voters by simply accusing Kerry of being a liberal. They have to go further. They have to make him peculiarly liberal.

To do that, they must distort. They try to do it by positioning him on the edge of the Senate.

Well, first of all, the “far left” is simply not represented in the U.S. Senate. There’s no Michael Moore there. There’s no Dennis Kucinich, no Al Sharpton. Just a bunch of boring white folks. There’s not even a Paul Wellstone anymore. He was the last of the firebrands.
Marty is branding the National Journal as part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

The comparison to Ohio's liberal Democrats is pretty entertaining. The idea here is to compare Kerry to someone we know, but isn't real fresh in our minds. I recall Metzenbaum as being a Kerry-esque liberal. The fact remains that Kerry's record shows him to be the most liberal Senator from 2003. We aren't comparison shopping for liberals and there is no distortion of Senator Kerry's liberal record.
The man the Republicans now accuse of being a “far-left” liberal voted with the Bush administration on the Iraq war resolution, the Patriot Act and the No Child Left Behind Act — three of the biggest issues of the Bush years — all to the horror of even Howard Dean, who himself is no Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton or Paul Wellstone.
What Marty isn't telling you is that Kerry then turned around and failed to support the troops when it came time to fund the operation. The Patriot Act is a neccessary and serious piece of legislation for America, liberals and conservatives are right to be behind it. No Child Left Behind was not wildly popular amongst the Republican base groups; Ted Kennedy co-sponsored it for crying out loud. Marty also isn't telling you that Kerry is now criticizing ALL of these initiatives.
Over time, Kerry has voted for welfare reform, for paying for 100,000 new police on the streets, for serious efforts at deficit reduction, for free trade and for other ideas not typically associated with liberals.
Kerry already has enough medals, Marty wants us to give him another one. I'm not impressed that Kerry did the right thing on four issues when his record shows him to wrong far more often than he is right.
The Economist magazine, working with the National Journal data, says that if you take the last half of the 1990s as a whole, 14 senators had more liberal records than Kerry.
There are 100 senators in each session of the Senate. Think about that for a minute. At least 86 senators where to the right of John Kerry. And this is supposed to be an argument for Kerry's not being a uber-liberal?
The National Journal ranks senators in three categories: social, economic and foreign policies. In 2003, Kerry was on the campaign trail a lot. He didn’t cast enough votes in the social and foreign fields to be rated. But he did go with the liberals on all the controversial economic issues. That’s what got him the top ranking.
Now this is an argument that I have heard for Edwards' ranking as the fourth most liberal senator in 2003. (Hi Jeremy!) You might get away with that on Edwards, but Kerry? No way. One wonders if Marty is transposing Kerry for Edwards. This NYT article makes the argument for Edwards, not Kerry.
In other words, it took an awful lot of odd circumstances to get the Republican warriors their little sound bite about the 2003 rating.
No, at worst, it took a liberal Senator not showing up to do his job to produce the soundbite. Kerry's attendance has to mean something. He has a job that he gets paid for that he isn't doing. I can't imagine not showing up for work and still taking the money for doing so from the American people, but John Kerry sure has...
And, of course, they leave out what the Senate votes were about. Kerry voted against extending the Bush tax cuts to people earning over $200,000; for extending unemployment compensation benefits to the long-term unemployed; against curtailing overtime pay. Most of Kerry’s “liberal” votes would find favor with most people, the baggage of the L-word notwithstanding.
Again, this isn't the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy putting this report out, its the National Journal. The other thing that Marty doesn't tell you is that those ARE liberal issues. $200,000 might sound like a lot to you and me, but try running a small business on that. The unemployment benefits are already thirteen weeks long, an extension of those benefits is akin to a welfare program that doesn't encourage the unemployed to get employed. (I'm all for safety nets; but there is a point where we aren't talking about temporary help, we're being taken advantage of...) And the overtime bit has also been debunked. Turns out that as many low end jobs would have been granted the overtime option as high end jobs would have lost the benefit.
Kerry and others are boring and unconvincing when they reject the use of words like liberal and conservative as too simplistic. The labels are legitimate shorthand. The Bush warriors, however, aren’t using shorthand, but sleight of hand.
Marty just doesn't like being called a liberal. Kerry really doesn't like it either. The fact is, these guys ARE liberals.

Are they ashamed of who they are? Are they aware that they are out of the mainstream and that is the reason for all the cosmetics?

Just asking...

2:40PM Update

Another View...Jeremy (as referenced above writes:
If the editorialist were arguing that Kerry is a moderate, then I'd agree that's he's nuts. He's not. He's saying that JFK is a liberal. It's a statistical anomaly produced by his absences that he is the MOST liberal of 2003, but yeah, the guy is pretty [darn] liberal. I agree with the editorialist--within the context of his party, he is as liberal as Bush is conservative. There are people to the right of Bush in the Republican party, ditto for liberals in the Democratic Party.

The editorialist is just saying, he's not the far out liberal that he's being depicted as, someone who is scarily to the left of Teddy Kennedy. He's a liberal, with certain quirks.
I'm not so sure about that Kerry is as liberal as Bush is conservative bit. The President has done some really unconservative things in this term.

Jeremy is a pretty reasonable guy even for a lefty...


Post a Comment

<< Home