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Was Barack Obama Really The Most Liberal Senator?

August 28, 2008

I am mostly skeptical of liberal/conservative ratings, and the recent National Journal rating of Barack Obama as “most liberal” was no exception. After all, 2004 nominee John Kerry was also magically rated most liberal in that year. Coinky-dink or fact?

However this piece clarifying their methodology I find to be fairly persuasive. A sample: National Journal Online

To qualify for a vote rating, a member of Congress needs to participate in half of the selected votes. Obama cast votes in 66 of the 99 roll calls that formed the basis for the Senate ratings. On those 66 votes, he took what we labeled the liberal position 65 times. Whether Obama would have taken the conservative position on some of the votes he missed is a matter of conjecture.

Many other objections are raised and dealt with in a similar manner, resulting in one conclusion: Obama has a very liberal voting record. He may not be the most liberal, but he is certainly far to the left side of the spectrum.

So all this talk about Obama being a “post-partisan” candidate troubles me greatly because it seems solely based on his rhetoric and not his actions. This cognitive dissonance is a theme I’d like to explore in the coming weeks.

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