One of the most moronic media lines last night, and continuing through today, is how "conservative" these newly elected Democrats are.
Except, that they're not. In the Senate:
Bernie Sanders, VT: So conservative that he's a "socialist". His National Journal "liberal" rating is 89.7 (out of 100).
Sherrod Brown, OH: NJ liberal rating is 84.2. For comparison's sake, Harold Ford -- a real conservative Democrat -- had a 58.3 rating.
Sheldon Whitehouse, RI: An unabashed liberal in every definition of the word. I mean, he defeated a liberal Republican.
Claire McCaskill, MO: She's a progressive on every major issue. In fact, it was one of the GOP's lines of attacks against her. As the conservative Real Clear Politics wrote in its race summary:
State Auditor Claire McCaskill lost a close governor's race two years ago to Gov. Matt Blunt 51% - 48% and thus starts out of the gate with a high level of name recognition and a solid base of support. However, McCaskill lost 90 out of 97 counties statewide and has a problem of being perceived as too liberal outside of metro St. Louis and Kansas City. Missouri is a relatively, culturally conservative state that President Bush won by 3% in 2000 and 7% in 2004 and running the standard Republican playbook hitting McCaskill as too liberal on judges, the war, and taxes should be enough for Talent to carry the day.
Amy Klobuchar, MN: There's nothing "conservative" about our newest senator from one of the bluest states in the union.
Jon Tester, MT: One of the people accused of being a "conservative" Dem, yet he's against flag burning amendment, against an amendment banning gay marriage, against the Patriot Act, and against the war. He's an economic populist, social libertarian, pro-choice Democrat. He may be one of the very few senators who actually lives paycheck to paycheck. He's an organic farmer.
He's not Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown, but a "conservative" Dem? Ridiculous.
Jim Webb, VA: Politically very similar to Tester. He's libertarian on social issues, an economic populist. He wants out of Iraq and he has a personal stake in the war -- his son is actually deployed to Iraq. Sure, he served in the Reagan Administration, and sure, he can be classified as a "moderate" (whatever that means), but he's no "conservative".
In the House:
Yarmuth in KY-03? An unabashed liberal. The kind, in fact, that Rahm said couldn't win in the South.
We picked up two seats in blue country in Connecticut, four in Pennsylvania (two in blue territory, and the other two not "conservative" by any real definition of the word). KS-02? Boyda is no conservative. The two Florida seats (16, 22)? Not conservative. The three New York seats? Not conservatives. The two in New Hampshire? True progressives.
I mean, going down the list, the only Democrats out of 28 officially confirmed
victories that could be called "conservative" are Shuler in NC-08, Lampson in TX-22, and the three Indiana Dems,
Are there moderates? Yes. Is the country moving to the center? Of course. The Democrats will push it there from the far right. If you define the "center" by where the American people reside, we are the center party.
But the notion that it's "conservative" Democrats who won last night is utter hogwash, a desperate gambit by Republicans to try and spin something good from the election.
But they're wrong. What we saw last night is that despite the institutional advantages the GOP had -- more money, incumbency, redistricting, the VRWC, and the bully pulpit of the White House, the Speaker's Gavel, and the Senate Majority Leader's office -- Republicans still suffered epic loses.
This was a progressive victory.
Update: Ezra Klein has more:
The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.
So is Shuler right-wing? Seems like a tough case to me. Sherrod Brown? Liberal as they come. Defeating South Dakota's abortion ban initiative? Passing Missouri's stem cell initiative? All those progressives who toppled liberal Republicans in the Northeast? Somebody think they won in the blue bastions with roaring conservatism? Meanwhile, the most conservative of the serious Democratic challengers this cycle, Harold Ford, went down to defeat. Bravely fought race, tough environs, etc. But with an out-and-out liberal winning Ohio and a right-of-center Democrat losing Tennessee, we're really going to call this election for conservatism?
Update II: And let's not forget that during the campaign, every single one of these Democrats was accused by their Republican opponents of being "too liberal". Every single one of them.
So now they're going to turn around and claim that they didn't mean all of that? Idiots.
And not just the Republicans who spin those lines, but the reporters and media blowhards repeating that mantra.
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