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I've been wanting to profile members of our Congress that serve on our side of the isle for sometime now.  The idea came to me after the whole FISA fiasco and I was looking over how my senators voted.  It dawned on me that there needs to be more comprehensive efforts to map out the voting tendencies of our representatives in order to help voters to know where they stand and hold their feet to the fire.  So I thought I'd at least do my part by profiling my senior senator Blanche Lincoln. For this effort, I use On The Issues and Lincoln's own answers from Project Vote Smart, neither of which is perfect of course, but helpful none the less.

Also, this will not be the last entry of this sort I do.  I plan on profiling Pryor next, and will probably do other senators/representatives as time goes on.  I'd also encourage others to do the same.  The more we have out there, the better.

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A little biographical information, Lincoln was my representative in the first district (that's North Eastern Arkansas, the delta region) after she defeated her former boss, Congressman Bill Alexander, in the primary (if memory serves he got himself into some trouble with overseas trips and was generally considered to have lost touch).  She left Congress for awhile when her twins were born but returned to politics in '98 when she won election to the US Senate, first over Fay Boozman an optometrist who claimed that it was his profressional medical opinion that a woman could not get pregnant if she was raped, and Jim Holt, who was even wackier than that.

When it comes to social issues, Lincoln is probably the more liberal of the two Arkansas senators, but that's probably not saying much.  She's largely prochoice, though she did vote to ban the dialation and extraction procedure (otherwise known as "partial-birth abortion"...scary!).  She's voted against a constitutional amendment banning gay marraige and supported hate crimes legislation (including sexual orientation) but still flatly states that gay couples shouldn't even have civil unions (though I personally doubt she'd lift a finger to oppose it).  Generally, Lincoln is gun friendly, which makes sense for Arkansas, though she did take the reasonable position of having background checks at gunshows.  She's also for the death penalty, the flag burning amendment and voted for making English the official language.  She does, however, support affirmative action and has been supportive of comprehensive immigration reform.

On economic issues, Lincoln is pretty conservative.  She's big on free trade, having voted for CAFTA and most other free trade deals and is a supporter of NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO.  She also voted against capping farm subsidies (something that ticked off most of the farmers I know).  She did however support the Employee Free Choice Act and for raising the minimum wage.

On education, Lincoln is generally for more funding, higher standards, smaller class size, etc.  One thing that I really like about her though is that when she was running for the senate she did stress the need for emotional counseling services in public schools. On healthcare, she supported the SCHIP expansion (like everyone else with half a brain) and she is for stem cell research.  She did vote for the Republican's Medicare prescription drug benefit, but she's subsequently voted to give the government the power to negotiate with drug companies to bring down the price.  (Not sure on this but I think she either introduced that legislation or was a cosponsor)  She's also for a strong patients bill of rights, even though she's also for a cap on damages.  One thing that does rattle me though is that on her Project Vote Smart answer form, Lincoln neglects to indicate support for universal healthcare.  Plus on social security she leaves the whole damn thing blank!  And she's on the Senate Special Committee on Aging!  She did, however, introduce legislation that enabled seniors who work to receive full social security benefits, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt I guess.

When it comes to energy and the environment, Lincoln doesn't particularly stand out.  She voted for the Bush energy policy, but she also voted to protect ANWR.  In recent years, she's come out as an advocate for alternative energy, notably ethanol.

On fiscal policy, two things stand out.  First, she voted for the first Bush tax cut, but not the second.  As I understand it, she put up a fight to insure that middle-class families got a share of the first cut, but she thought the second one was too slanted toward the rich and was irresponsible.  Second, she's for eliminating the estate tax.  (Personal aside: I was a little flustered over that when I first heard about it.  Then my grandfather pointed out that her family owns a huge chunk of land in Helena and it made it worse).

On foreign policy, Lincoln is generally for foreign aide and multilateral efforts.  She says she supports the creation of a Palestinian state and involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and she supports lifting the travel ban to Cuba.

On national security issues, Lincoln shows her true colors (HINT: They ain't blue.)  She brags about her support of the Patriot Act, voted for telecom amnesty, and supported invading Iraq.  She was long against withdrawing troops, but seems to be coming around...finally.

Overall, Lincoln is probably fittingly described as a Bush Dog.  Like all of the Democrats that can be labeled such, she has a few redeeming features.  However, she's way out of touch with Arkansas on several important economic issues-namely trade and farming.  Her social conservatism is understandible, being from Arkansas, but there is an economic populist streak that runs deep in the culture here.  She's fairly popular in the state, with an approval rating in the mid-fifties, but I think a primary challenge from a Scott Kleeb style candidate could work, or at the very least push her on economic issues.  Interestingly enough, Arkansas has a history of successful primary efforts, from the famous Dale Bumpers vs. William Fulbright back in the seventies to Lincoln's own race against Bill Alexander.  Still, Arkansas is by and large a machine state, and that machine is firmly behind Lincoln.  Still, at somepoint in the future, it may be worth a shot.  Regardless, the dailykos crowd from Arkansas can use this little bit of info to hold her accountable.

Originally posted to ARDem on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:11 PM PST.

Poll

What approval rating would you give Blanche Lincoln?

16%16 votes
13%13 votes
33%33 votes
23%23 votes
9%9 votes
6%6 votes

| 100 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I like this idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, bsmechanic

    I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Suggestion: How about profiles of the presidential candidates' senate records sooner rather than later? I know there's a lot of info out there already but it wouldn't hurt to bump them to the front of the line.

  •  Primary challenges (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, dem4evr

    of Democrats in red states are really risky endeavors.

    I want to win. You want to beat him, and that's a problem for me, because I want to win. -The West Wing

    by AnnArborBlue on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:23:32 PM PST

    •  Arkansas is less red then most. (6+ / 0-)

      Two Dem Senators, a majority Dem House delegation, Dem Governor.  The Presidential vote isn't the end all be all of determining a state's color.

      I'm not advocating a primary, but it's not as bad as Nebraska would be.

      The presidency is now a cross between a popularity contest and a high school debate, with an encyclopedia of clichés the first prize. Saul Bellow

      by AUBoy2007 on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:27:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except for Wal-Mart. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pompatus, dem4evr

        -5.12, -6.56 Libertad sindical!

        by cjallen on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:28:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandy on Signal

        But the typical trend in Southern states has been "flip in the Presidential vote first, and then slowly trend to the right on Congressional seats afterward". I'm not convinced Arkansas is different in that regard.

        I want to win. You want to beat him, and that's a problem for me, because I want to win. -The West Wing

        by AnnArborBlue on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:30:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They've got a long way to go to get to that point (0+ / 0-)

          They dumped a GOP Senator in 2002.  That says a lot to me.

          The presidency is now a cross between a popularity contest and a high school debate, with an encyclopedia of clichés the first prize. Saul Bellow

          by AUBoy2007 on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:34:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  After Huckabee (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sandy on Signal, AUBoy2007

          they elected a Democratic governor by a large margin.  2006 was a banner year for Arkansas Democrats.  Here's an article about the 2006 election in Arkansas.

          Tuesday's results should be seen as the capstone of a Democratic resurgence that took eight years to complete. Not only did the Democrats sweep the statewide races, but they added to their numbers in the state Legislature.

          Democrats have kicked Republicans back to the 1980s. The GOP can only lay claim to John Boozman in the 3rd District and dwindling numbers in the Legislature. What is left is a provincial political party that suffers from a limited ability to raise the needed money to compete in the costly world of politics because they have no place at the governing table.

          -5.12, -6.56 Libertad sindical!

          by cjallen on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:37:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Why are you not convinced about Arkansas? (3+ / 0-)

          Have you ever been here? Because the Arkansas GOP is in a shambles. Three out of four House seats are held by Democrats, and they aren't changing anytime soon.

          Granted, the Dems here aren't good ones. We do need to work on getting better Democrats. But I don't see how you can say Arkansas is going to trend rightward in Congressional seats.

    •  Not necessarily in this case. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pompatus, AUBoy2007, cjallen

      Arkansas has a long history of successful primary efforts, as I mentioned in the diary.  The Arkansas Republican party is largely (and historically) disfunctional, especially after the '06 whipeout.  Often times, they don't even feild candidates for important races and many times the Green Party looks like it's in better shape.

      Besides, the point isn't necessarily to defeat Lincoln, which may be impossible.  But if a good candidate got out and started railing on her economic policies, I'm convinced the first poll that showed him with over 35% of the vote would scare Blanche silly and push her into a better position on those issues.  That, I think, is worth it.

  •  Thanks for such a substantive diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, Pompatus, BachFan

    Great idea. Can't wait to see the rest in your series.

  •  I will say that she is better (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pompatus

    than Mark Pryor, but not a lot.  I appreciate your effort.  I have actually met her a couple of times and she is personable, but she needs to be primaried.  Warmest regards, Doc.

    Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me. -6.25, -6.05

    by Translator on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:34:51 PM PST

  •  I love Blue Dogs... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK

    from Red States who replace RW Republicans who never listen to anything we have to say...

    But as I have always said...feel free to organize a primary against her with someone more progressive...it will only make her stronger to show her moderate views that represent the people of AR well...

    Peace...Go Democrats!!!

    Clinton - Obama '08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

    by dvogel001 on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:37:17 PM PST

    •  "it will only make her stronger" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dconrad

      It might give her more flexibility, too.

      In the absence of a primary challenge, it may be difficult for her to decide how to move to the left on some issues, even if she wants and/or sees a need to do so. If a challenger comes in with clear left positions on particular issues, then she can move to halfway between her semi-rightish current positions and a challenger's clearly-more-leftist positions, and claim to be "recognizing the changing realities" but doing so in a moderate way.

      In effect, the opportunity to move to the left and be moderate at the same time.

      •  Agreed... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dconrad

        as opposed to some at DKos who are afraid of primary challengers to Democrats in Red Districts, I welcome them...if you are frustrated with a Blue Dog's voting record, then put up a primary challenger with the most Left Leaning/Liberal views you can find.  If that person can win the primary then the district can probably support someone more liberal...if not then showing the differences to the voters of that district will further highlight the current Democrat's moderate credentials and actually help them in the GE...also it will keep the Blue-Dog on his/her toes knowing that they cannot have free reign to pursue any conservative viewpoint that they have while in congress and they do have a minority of progressive/liberal supporters that he/she needs to consider as constituents...it is all good!!!!

        I say Bring it On!!!  That is how we work on getting better Democrats...Blue-Dogs is how we work on getting more Democrats...these goals are not mutually exclusive...

        Of course, having primary challenges for moderate democrats in Blue Districts would be more fruitful in terms of progressive electoral successes, but the other primary challenges might make the liberals at least feel like their voices are heard once every 2 years from a Blue-Dog.

        Clinton - Obama '08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

        by dvogel001 on Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 02:46:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, cjallen, condorcet

    I live in Arkansas and bug the hell out Lincoln and Pryor's offices all the time. They both need to be primaried but I don't see it happening. My own Rep. Mike Ross also needs a primary challenger, but it doesn't look like we'll get one.

    I like having a state full of Democrats, but these Blue Dogs and worse (*spit* Mark Pryor) are infuriating.

    Anyway, thanks for the informative profile! BTW, do you know of any good Arkansas political blogs?

    •  Ross is my Rep, too, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pompatus

      and he is just awful.  Check out arktimes.com.  They have several blogs that you might like, and some of the stories are good, too.  New issue online later today.  Warmest regards, Doc.

      Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me. -6.25, -6.05

      by Translator on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:50:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks I'll check it out (0+ / 0-)

        I'm already a subscriber to the Arkansas Times (mainly because I just want to support them), but I haven't checked out their blogs. I'll do that because I'm sure it will be interesting.

        I was starting to warm up to Lincoln again, and then she shit the bed on the FISA votes. And on a couple votes, it seemed like she waited until the last second to cast her vote, to make sure she could get away with it. She really lost me.

        I would love to support a primary challenger against Mike Ross. Maybe next cycle. I've been represented by a lot of DINOs in my time, and Ross is the second worst. Mark Pryor being #1, of course.

    •  Yeah, I know. (4+ / 0-)

      Arkansas Democrats can be so much better, especially when you consider some of the great politicians like Dale Bumpers that we had in the past.  My own Congressman, Marion Berry, is something else.  On the plus side though, Beebe seems to be governing as sort of an extremely cautious progressive.  I mean he did work behind the scenes trying to undermine that gay adoption ban and he did come out in support of ratifying the ERA.

      I don't know of any good Arkansas blogs myself.  Believe me, I've looked.  Someone really needs to start one up.

      •  Berry (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pompatus

        Your sentiment didn't completely register with me. You like Berry, or you don't.

        Snyder's my favorite member of the Arkansas delegation (definitely too much of a free trader, though) but I also like Berry. I agree, though, that Ross sucks.

        "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" -8.25, -7.54

        by dem4evr on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 11:17:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Something else" is the only way to describe him. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cjallen

          On a lot of issues, he's pretty good-better than Lincoln usually on the domestic and economic front.  But he's also a bit of a Bush Dog and a social conservative.  The reason I say he's something else though is because I know a fair share of people who work in his office.  They've told me that he's actually much more liberal than he lets on.  For instance, he talked to them once about how great the Netherlands is with its approach to drugs.  The guy that was telling me this wrapped it up by saying "He's got to play the home grown boy for the locals.", which really struck me as being more than disengenous, but down right condescending.

      •  I've only been here a couple years (0+ / 0-)

        So far Beebe seems better than average. And I was liking Lincoln more until her despicable FISA votes.

        We could really use a good progressive Arkansas blog. The Democrats around here need some pressure from the left.

    •  How did your complaints... (0+ / 0-)

      by the Republican that was before Blanche and Mark???

      You get a lot of changed minds and hearts from the Republicans you spoke to???

      I say, go ahead a primary them...find someone really really Left Leaning Liberal...they will lose in the primary and make Blanche and Mark even stronger in the GE...and hopefully it will make you feel better and get some debate about the issues in the public view.

      Peace Go Democrats!!!

      Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama '08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

      by dvogel001 on Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 03:18:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My take (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Pompatus, BachFan, cjallen

    As a person who grew up in Arkansas, and thus follows its politics closely though I haven't lived there since 1992, I always find it interesting - no, frustrating - how modern Democrats from that state are so gosh danged afraid to be anything more than a Blue Dog.  For chrissakes, we elected Fulbright, a person from a Southern state who opposed the Vietnam conflict; and Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, two of the most respected, thoughtful, eloquent senators in modern times who mostly voted the right way on traditional Democratic issues, even tilting fairly left on many of such issues, despite the fact that the AR electorate is moderate to conservative.  They were all very successful politicians at every level of governance in their state.  Why Blanche - and even more ironically, Pryor's own son - can't just break out of the fraidy-cat mold and be the people I think they are at heart is beyond me.

    I'd hate to risk losing a Dem seat by running at them from the left, though.  Now I'm the fraidy-cat.

    I have no snarky e-signature!

    by bakerkm45 on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 10:57:21 PM PST

  •  good diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pompatus, BachFan

    I live in Ar. and appreciate the information. Pryor and Lincoln both have their good points.

    Senator Lincoln should stay away from the internet though, at least until she gets some staff members willing to do some research. A couple of her proposals on internet security and child porn were so ignorant, I have a hard time believing that any of her staff actually own a computer and surf the web.

  •  Excellent stuff (0+ / 0-)

    and tips for anyone writing about Congress.

    Do you know about SwingStateProject and the race tracker WIKI?  Two useful tools.  

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