Who Would Have Thought Ted Kennedy Was The Most Conservative Senator In Massachusetts?

John Kerry may flip and he may flop, but somehow, someway, he manages to land on the left. Want to see proof? Well, then you need look no further than this column by William Mayer that irrefutably shows that John Kerry is an ultra-liberal…

“…The question of how to measure a senator’s or representative’s ideology is one that political scientists regularly need to answer. For more than 30 years, the standard method for gauging ideology has been to use the annual ratings of lawmakers’ votes by various interest groups, notably the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the American Conservative Union (ACU).

…The ADA’s Legislative Committee selects what it considers to be the year’s 20 most important votes cast in each house of Congress. Senators and representatives then receive a score ranging from 0 to 100, based on the percentage of times they voted for the liberal position as identified by the ADA. In 1971, a group called the American Conservative Union began publishing a conservative counterpart to the ADA ratings, using the same method.

The ADA and ACU ratings are valuable as yardsticks for several reasons. Both have been around for a long time, thus providing some historical perspective. Both are able to speak with some authority about what constitutes the “liberal” and “conservative” positions on various issues. And both are good at distinguishing between meaningful and unimportant votes. Voters back home might be taken in if the House passes a resolution saying that all Americans have the right to adequate health care or a strong national defense — but takes no action or provides no money toward that goal. The ADA and ACU almost certainly won’t.

1994 95 0
1995 95 4
1996 95 5
1997 95 0
1998 95 4
1999 95 0
2000 90 12
2001 95 4
2002 85 20
2003 85 13
AVG. 92 6

…Kerry’s 2003 ADA score of 85 may be a bit misleading. The ADA gives each senator five points every time he or she casts a liberal vote. Senators get zero points if they vote for the conservative position or don’t vote at all. Of the 20 votes selected by the ADA in 2003, Kerry was absent for three. He thus actually voted the liberal position on all 17 of the votes he was present for.

Either way, Kerry’s voting record is a very liberal one, according to both rating systems. The ADA’s Web site notes that “those members of Congress considered to be moderates generally score between 40 percent and 60 percent.” By that criterion, Kerry’s record falls well outside the “moderate” range.

The same point is borne out by a comparison of Kerry’s ratings with those of other Democrats often classified as moderates, such as Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana. Breaux’s lifetime average ADA score through 2002 is 55. When Lloyd Bentsen of Texas was a senator, his lifetime ADA score was 41. Former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn had a lifetime ADA average of 37. Al Gore had a 65 average. Joe Lieberman, described sometimes as a liberal and sometimes as a moderate — he has a generally liberal voting record but also dissents from several important liberal positions — has a lifetime ADA score of 76 through 2002.

At the other end of the spectrum, three senators are often singled out as the most liberal: Barbara Boxer of California, Pat Leahy of Vermont and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Their lifetime ADA scores through 2002 are, respectively, 96, 93 and 90 — statistically indistinguishable from Kerry’s 92.

In recent weeks, a number of commentators have asserted that Kerry’s voting history is complicated to classify. The evidence doesn’t bear this out. If you take the numbers here, cover up Kerry’s name and then ask a sample of American political scientists, “I have here a senator who in the past 10 years has had an average ADA score of 92 and an average ACU score of 6. Is he a liberal, a moderate or a conservative?” they would have no difficulty in classifying the 2004 Democratic candidate as, for better or worse, a liberal.”

Come on folks — “an average ADA score of 92 and an average ACU score of 6”? Kerry is to the left of TED KENNEDY. Who would have thought that Ted Kennedy was the most conservative Senator in Massachusetts? Ok, a lot of you already knew that…but, how can anyone read this column by Mayer and deny that Kerry is ultra-liberal?

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