Thursday, July 8, 2004

When it comes to flip-flopping, John Kerry, who was recognized by the authoritative, nonpartisan National Journal as the most liberal senator last year, can’t seem to help himself. Even when making the most important decision since he captured his party’s presidential nomination — the selection of a running mate — Mr. Kerry could not do so without performing an ideological flip-flop of Olympian proportions. The liberal Mr. Kerry was evidently so desperate to win the election that his idea of “balancing” the ticket was to ask Sen. John McCain, a bona fide ideological conservative, to serve a heartbeat away from the presidency. Having failed in that bid, he flip-flopped and selected John Edwards, whom National Journal rated the fourth most liberal member of the Senate last year, even more liberal than Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton.

To appreciate how far the distance on the ideological spectrum is between Messrs. McCain and Edwards, consider the voting ratings they have received from liberal and conservative interest groups:

• Mr. Edwards has compiled a lifetime AFL-CIO rating of 96 percent, including four perfect 100 percent scores during his five years. Mr. McCain’s lifetime AFL-CIO rating is 17 percent.

• From the premier liberal rating organization, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Mr. Edwards received an average annual (1999-2002) rating of 85 percent before falling to a career-low 65 percent last year. But that score was misleading because ADA penalizes legislators for missing any of its 20 annual key votes. In fact, on the 13 ADA votes for which the itinerant Mr. Edwards was present last year, he supported ADA 100 percent of the time. (On the 17 ADA key votes cast by Mr. Kerry last year, he also supported ADA’s position 100 percent of the time. Thus, between the two of them, they were 30-for-30 on ADA votes.) With Mr. Edwards’ lifetime ADA rating at 81 percent and Mr. Kerry’s at 92 percent, the 2004 Democratic ticket boasts higher lifetime ADA ratings than the avowedly liberal 1984 Democratic ticket of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. As for Mr. McCain, ADA reports a lifetime rating of 9 percent.

• From the premier conservative rating organization, the American Conservative Union (ACU), Mr. Edwards has received a lifetime rating of 12 percent, or one-seventh the size of Mr. McCain’s 84 percent lifetime ACU rating. Mr. Kerry’s lifetime ACU rating is 5 percent.

Having been rejected by Mr. McCain, Mr. Kerry returned to his liberal roots, embracing the liberal Mr. Edwards. In doing so, he audaciously pretends that he had not achieved a perfect 10 in his Olympic-caliber ideological flip-flop in the most momentous decision he likely will make during this presidential election cycle.

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