Democrats Choose Most Liberal Senator as Presidential Nominee

When Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry won 9 of 10 states on Super Tuesday, putting a virtual lock on the Democratic presidential nomination, the Washington Post greeted the news with a banner front-page headline almost worthy of a moon landing: “Kerry Locks Up the Nomination” the paper declared in massive letters. No wonder the Post was so thrilled. Just a few days earlier, the non-partisan, non-ideological National Journal had published its annual analysis of congressional voting records. The conclusion: John Kerry is the most liberal U.S. senator. “The results of the vote ratings show that Kerry was the most liberal senator in 2003, with a composite liberal score of 96.5%,” the publication reported. If Kerry picks North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, as many commentators now suspect he may, the Democrats this year will have a stunningly left-wing ticket–even by the Democrats’ standards. Edwards, the National Journal said, “had a 2003 composite liberal score of 94.5%, making him the fourth-most liberal senator.” Ordinarily, Kerry would not have received an overall vote rating this year from the National Journal because he missed too many votes while campaigning. In doing its analysis, the publication looked at 62 Senate votes divided into three categories: economic, social, and foreign policy. In order to be rated in each area, a senator had to participate in at least half of the votes considered. Kerry missed 37 of the 62 votes. “As a result,” the publication said, “Kerry received a rating only in the economic policy category, earning a perfect liberal score.” But, presumably because he had emerged as the Democratic presidential frontrunner, the National Journal did an independent study of the rest of Kerry’s voting record. “A separate analysis,” the publication said, “showed that of the votes that Kerry cast in the two categories in which he did not receive scores in 2003–social policy and foreign policy–he consistently took a liberal view within the Senate.” Kerry’s results for 2003 were consistent with his career-long record of voting with the far left of his own party. “After winning election to the Senate in 1984, he ranked among the most-liberal senators during three years of his first term, according to National Journal‘s voting ratings,” the publication said. “In those years–1986, 1988 and 1990–Kerry did not vote with Senate conservatives a single time out of the total of 138 votes used to prepare those ratings.” He was most consistently to the far left on social issues. “Kerry had a perfect liberal rating on social issues during 10 of the 18 years in which he received a score, meaning that he did not side with conservatives on a single vote in those years,” the National Journal reported. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the National Journal ratings is that Kerry refused to take credit for his liberal record. He even evaded calling himself a liberal. At a February 29 Democratic presidential debate hosted by CBS and the New York Times, Times reporter Elizabeth Bumiller asked Kerry about garnering the National Journal‘s “most liberal” label: “How can you hope to win with this kind of characterization, in this climate?” Kerry answered: “Because it is a laughable characterization. It’s absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Bumiller then asked: “Are you a liberal?” Kerry would not answer directly. Instead, he made a truly “laughable characterization” of his own. “In addition,” he said, “[the National Journal] counted my vote against George Bush’s tax cut that we can’t afford. I thought it was fiscally conservative to vote against George Bush’s tax cut. They call it liberal.”