Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On the leftiness of Obama redux

To summarize where we are, I've come to realize that a lot of Obama's foreign and social policies are both (a) wrong and (b) conservative.

Since then I've been dealing with a lot of "epistemic closure" from the left as they argue that there is no evidence at all of Obama being left or liberal. I presented a lighthearted list, the first 6 of which I think are genuine evidence.

In an attempt to bring some at least semi-objective data to bear on the issue, I propose that his voting record as a Senator is relevant for judging his ideological bent (i.e. his inner leftiness).

Here is some information on that record:

The National Journal magazine, in its annual vote rating, said Obama moved left last year to the "most liberal senator" rating "after ranking as the 16th and 10th most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate."

Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal activist group, and the American Conservative Union, the conservative activist group, also rate Congress members on their votes. Their findings describe Obama as one of, but not the most liberal U.S. senator.

The ADA gave Obama a 75 percent liberal score in 2007, 95 percent in 2006 and 100 percent in 2005. Other Democratic senators received 100 percent during those years. David Card, ADA communications director, said Obama's score was lower last year because he missed certain votes.

Obama has a lifetime ADA average of 90 percent. Other senators - such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and others - have higher lifetime ADA ratings. Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, was ranked as the most liberal senator by the National Journal in 2003.

"He is one of the most liberal senators," Card said, referring to Obama.

The ACU, which customarily places conservative Republicans on the top of its list and liberal Democrats at the bottom, has given Obama a lifetime ranking of just 7.67, according to the figures on the group's Web site.

It says Obama scored 8 percent in 2005, 8 percent in 2006 and 7 percent in 2007. Other Democratic senators in the ACU rankings have had lower yearly and lifetime scores, the site shows.

"He's one of the most liberal," said Larry Hart, the ACU director of government relations.


Anonymous said...


Politicians suck, and Obama is liberal. Whoopty doo. Ground breaking analysis right there.

NBA season starts tonight; surely you can find something more interesting to post.

Prediction: The Heat will be aided by a particularly weak Eastern Conference, but will come up way short of Orlando. Rashard Lewis will seek redemption and try to justify his monstrous contract.

Durant and Kobe will battle it out for Western Conference the MVP, but the Lakers will prove to be the best team in the West once again. They'll have a shaky playoff run but make it to the finals once again where they'll meet a Magic squad that had just skated through the conference championship. Lakers will take it in 5, after Van Gundy's 4-1 offensive formation fails to thwart Kobe and Gasol.

Iphone wielding and bejeweled black v-neck wearing Lakers fans will rejoice with $8 dollar Staples Center Heinekens and rounds of high fives.

"Did you catch that match bro? Kobe was unstoppable with those baskets!"

Meanwhile, Obama will still be liberal and there will be more quantitative analysis to prove it.

Anonymous said...

Again with that long laughed at NJ ranking?

And no mention of DW nominate scores? The ones which show Obama smack in the middle of the Senate Democrats?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Heinekens at Staples cost more than 8 bucks.

John Thacker said...

I see that our second Anonymous decided to ignore the ADA and ACU rankings, and the fact that all rankings showed Obama to be more "moderate" because of his habit of skipping votes (especially because of running for President.)

Dirty Davey said...

Hmm. Two possibilities:

(1) Obama was clearly a far-left liberal before his election, and a decent-sized majority of American voters wanted a far-left President,


(2) Obama is not really that far to the left, despite what voting ratings* and conservative talking heads may think, and in 2008 a decent-sized majority of American voters wanted a moderate-to-leftish President.

As a Good Leftist, I feel compelled to point out that any ideological index based on Congressional votes can at best locate a member at the left end of the range of policies that make it to the floor for a roll call vote--which is in no way a "far left" position. Far left bills don't make it to the floor, or are so overwhelmingly defeated that no one uses them as a basis for an ideological rating system.

Dirty Davey said...

(1) re: the asterisk--it's supposed to point to the final paragraph.

(2) re: John Thacker's comment--actually, my understanding from coverage during the 2004 and 2008 elections is that a member who is missing many votes while campaigning ends up rated as MORE extreme, not LESS extreme. The measures where a candidate might vote with the opposition are those that have a more comfortable margin of support, so there's less pressure to come in off the hustings to cast a vote.

Obama's record was very short, but certainly Kerry and Edwards in '04 were scored as far more liberal in the '03 scores (when they missed time) than during the entirety of their careers.

Anonymous said...

I see that our second Anonymous decided to ignore the ADA and ACU rankings, and the fact that all rankings showed Obama to be more "moderate" because of his habit of skipping votes (especially because of running for President.)

I don't see how I ignored them. I questioned the use of the NJ ranking, because its a questionable measure based on a cherry picked set of votes. His ACU and ADA ratings are consistent with his moderately Democratic DW nominate scores. Both organizations have a lot of pols with scores of either 100 or 0, with many "moderates" in the single digits or teens (or vice versa, depending on the orientation of the scale).

I believe DD has sufficiently addressed the other issues.

Anonymous said...

Democrats were pretty clear that they thought Obama was pretty ideologically pure before he took office. If they can't produce policy they can defend with massive majorities in congress and a president they think as highly of as they thought of Obama, then what is the point?

I am not saying they should vote republican, but this is like listening to a faith healer tell his patients they didn't believe hard enough.

Anonymous said...

If they can't produce policy they can defend with massive majorities in congress and a president they think as highly of as they thought of Obama, then what is the point?

Stimulus, Health care, Financial reform, and a number of smaller issues.

They have produced "policy". It just hasn't been as much or as progressive as many would have liked. Much has passed the House but died or been watered down in the Senate, a chamber with definite conservative institutional bias, where filibuster use has grown to record levels.

Combine these facts with a shitty economy and two shitty wars, all of which were inherited and all of which will take a long time to be undone, and you have a recipe for unrest.

Combine that with the fact that Democrats pretty much suck at messaging and campaigning, and its really quite remarkable that they got anything done at all.

John said...

The more disconcerting tendency I see in Obama is not his tendency to favor "left" solutions over "right" solutions. It's his overwhelming tendency to support government dictated solutions to nearly all of life's (real or imagined) ills over the non-coercive actions of a free people.

The left-right stuff is just a distraction.

Anonymous said...

@ John

Um... he's an elected official. Its his job to propose government solutions to things.

When you have a hammer, etc...

Though I agree, it was dickish of him to tell insurance companies they couldn't dump people the minute they got a sniffle. I mean, only a supermajority of the country thinks that's a good idea for a law. Is this any way to run a democracy?

Max Marty said...

Doesn't this go against what the Median Voter hypothesis would predict about who gets elected?