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Oh! Conservatives of Little Faith

Recently, Dana Milbank wrote a column about long-time Republicans politicians who are being forced out of office by more radical tea-party candidates. He used as examples, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bob Bennett of Utah. But a reader wrote him a letter challenging the idea that these were “faithful conservatives” and even accused them of being liberals who deserved to be kicked out of the Republican party. He encouraged Milbank to check their ratings by the American Conservative Union.

So he did. But what he found surprised him. Murkowski has a lifetime rating of 70.2% and Bennett is 83.6%. If Murkowski and Bennett are too liberal for the GOP, then what other Republicans have worse ratings? The ACU has ratings of Republicans going back to 1971, and what Milbank found was that most of the Republican leadership before around 1999 would now be considered too liberal to be in the Republican party. For example, Gerald Ford, who was Republican leader in the House from 1965 to 1973 before he became president has a rating of 67%.

Other Republicans with ratings worse than one or both of Murkowski or Bennett include Bob Dole (Senate Republican leader and presidential candidate), Howard Baker (Senate Republican leader), and Hugh Scott (also Senate Republican leader). Scott had a rating from the ACU of 29%! Besides Senate leaders, the second most powerful position in the Senate is the Whip, and every single Republican who served as Whip from 1969 to 1995 would be considered too liberal, including Alan Simpson (78%), Ted Stevens (64%), and Robert Griffin (83%). In the House, Republican leader John Rhodes rated 53%.

And we haven’t even considered anyone outside the Republican leadership. Including such political giants as Jacob Javits, who received a big fat zero rating from the ACU.

Is it really true that in today’s GOP, a conservative rating of 95% or above is “the new normal”? Would even St. Reagan be too liberal for today’s Republican party? Less than a year ago, the Republican National Committee considered subjecting all GOP candidates to a “Reaganite purity test” that Reagan himself would have failed.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    How would they rate Nixon

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink
  2. patriotsgt wrote:

    Hassan – Answer = traitor. 1st most disgraced politician in my book, followed by Clinton as second (since 1960). Although Bill managed to resurrect himself due to his incredibly likable personalty, he still disgraced the office.
    As to the the above piece, everyone may be missing the point. The TEA party is not against dems or repubs, although the media and politicians try to make it such. They are against incumbant business as usual congressman and senators and those who are opposite their views. As many of them have been saying, although their is no leadershihp per se, they don’t care what party the incumbant is in, if they lack conviction and against TEA party issues then they will work to replace them.
    The democrats should be thankful not hateful, fearful or disdainful. That attitude only gives them more power, because it confirms to “on the fence voters” that there must be something to what they say if the demcratic leadership is so fearful or against them. In my opinion, if the dems don’t want to lose big in Nov, they need to reach out to the TEA party or at least stop bashing them. It will only hurt them in the elections.

    Debate the issues and policies, not the people or personalities.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Unfortunately, even if the tea party started out non-partisan, it has been heavily funded and pretty much taken over by the republican party, Fox News, and the Koch brothers. Heck, Freedomworks is run by Dick Armey, who was House Majority leader for the GOP.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  4. patriotsgt wrote:

    IK – you make a good point, however I wonder (after talking to neighborhood level TP supporters) how much those orgs and money affects the local groups. Although the repubs tried and would like to adopt the TP I’m not sold that they have. If we believe in the premise that all politics are local when its all said and done, then the only effect big money can have are on the “chosen” races. At the local levels I think people will look more closely at their candidates records stance on issues. The primaries were a total different animal and not necessarily predictive of the general election primarily because many independants and other parties couldn’t vote. When these voices are added in the result may be completely different.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  5. tenthirtytwo wrote:

    What’s one democratic candidate that is running on a tea party platform, or supported by the tea party, or endorsed by the tea party endorsers? If the tea party is truly not about dem OR repub, then why is the line between the tea party and dems very clearly drawn and obvious, and the line between tea party and repubs so unclear and foggy?

    Personally, as much as I hate conspiracy theories, I don’t doubt for a second that there is a connection between the anti-incumbent, anti-establishment movement and the republicans. Because if the CURRENT people get voted out, and there are CURRENTLY more democrats than republicans, the republicans have a better chance of stealing seats back.

    I think it is the reverse of what IK says, I think it started out as a republican ploy and has turned into a grassroots (or astroturf) movement…just as it was designed to do.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  6. patriotsgt wrote:

    Excellent point 1032. For the line between dems and repubs I think that 1 1/2 years ago when TPs became nationally recognized they were about ideas not people. Then people (ie politicians and media) wanted to put them into a neat pile. Since many of their ideas are conservative in nature it made sense to outsiders to lump them with repubs. Many are probably repubs (but there are also independants and dems included). If the blue dog Dems had stuck to their guns and not voted with the Pelosi’s they might have gotten support, especially from voters like me who don’t fit neatly into any party. (social liberal, fiscal conservative)I recognize that it would have got them cut off from the Dem party mainstays, but in my mind principle and loyalty to voters tops all. For instance, in my state I intend to vote for the Dem govenor, but am seriously looking at the repub challengers to my congressman and senator, I also vote for my local Dem delegate who does a great job. I will not automatically vote for someone due to party affiliation, but will look for a qualified candidate who will vote the way I believe. Am I typical, I couldn’t say, but I’d like to think so. I kknow there are many voters dem and repub that vote party only, believe me I live in one of the bluest of states (1 repub gov in 50 years, never had a repub Senator since i’ve been alive)

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  7. Jonah wrote:

    PGT, a tea party focused on an efficient government would make sense for some of the more centrist dems to embrace. A tea party which has candidates like sharron “turn lemons into lemonade” angle and christine “witchcraft” o’donnell is best avoided. Reminding independent voters how crazy these candidates are helps dems IMO. There is no way IMO that Harry Reid would still have a chance to win in nevada with unemployment so high if the candidate opposing him wasn’t as nuts as angle is. The tea party candidates aren’t practical. They are angry and that appears to match some of the tea partiers mentality. They are ready to jump from the frying pan into the fire at any cost. Choosing a lunatic like COD over castle is an example of their extremes. I

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  8. ebdoug wrote:

    Tea Party values are “no abortion under any circumstances” and “cut government spending unless it happens to be that person who needs the Medicaid, etc” (Miller, Angle). I, myself, am against abortion. Took me a long time to be prochoice for anyone else. We have 4000 unwanted pregnacies terminated a DAY in this country. Now allow all those 1,460,000 pregnancies a year go to term. We now have 1.5 million unwanted citizens in this country a year. Since the government funding has been cut per tea party values, these children become our own personal burden even though we weren’t the ones to give birth to them. Then there is the next year. Very few of these children have a chance from day one.
    US has one of the lowest abortion rates.
    For that reason, I can give no support to totally impractical values.
    Sarah Palin stumps for Pro-Life values all the time, yet she was happy to have her son go off to a totally unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq. How Hypocritical is that?

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 6:38 am | Permalink
  9. patriotsgt wrote:

    Jonah – I agree there are some extremem TP candidates and that is a direct result in the fractured nature of the movement. What i mean is the TP is different from state to state and region to region depending on its local following. There is no national coalition although people like Palin have been crowned by the media as such, no one in the TP has annointed anyone.
    Ebdoug – I’m not sure abortion is a issue in all the TP groups. Like you I am pro-choice, but in the 1st trimester only unless there is a medical reason to terminate.

    As I can discern, the basic issues for most local TP groups is growth of government, taxes, entitlements, and strangulation regulation. Just like the left has the extreme elements that “jump on the bandwagon” to promote their ideas, so does the TP groups I believe.

    As to SP and her Son going to war. Understand that her son had no choice, he must follow orders. Even if she was opposed to the war (I don’t know, one way or the other), she should not have said anything but what every mother should say th a son and his fellow Soldiers as they depart for battle. To do anything else would bring down morale, risk mission failure and possibly put Soldiers lives at risk. Don’t blame her for that, any mother would do the same. When the Soldiers are ALL back, then complain to the President(s), because it is under their authority only that the Soldiers go to war.

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  10. Effisland wrote:

    PSG – using that logic then we should not criticize government so as to not ‘bring down morale’ for any decision they make! A person who is pro life is in a moral quandry if they also support killing foreigners (in an unquestioned government war).

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  11. ebdoug wrote:

    She said she was happy to send her son to “defend our country” Excuse me. There was nothing to defend in Iraq. (OK, Pappy Bush’s honor who sent Snowcroft? to try to stop baby bush) I’m not prochoice at all. I’m prochoice for everyone else. Speaking from experience, I know where I stand. I have four beautiful grandchildren to show for my stand.

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  12. patriotsgt wrote:

    Effisland – I understand what you are saying about criticizing the gov’t. However, if ones child is headed to war it would be inappropriate and demoralizing to criticize ones child as they enter on such a dangerous journey. The issue is not black and white it is gray. While I am pro-choice I am against 2nd/3rd term abortion. A pro-life person (my wife) is open to abortion in the case of rape or fetus incapable of living. Polarizing the issue is convienant but only applies to the fringes, I believe the majority fall somewhere in the middle.

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  13. patriotsgt wrote:

    Ebdoug – I guess what i’m trying to say is separate the mother from the politician. How can a mom not be totally behind her son, regardless of the politics. In this instance we have to cut the lady some slack no matter how we feel about her. At the least, pray for her son and all his comrades. Whats next, join the WBC and hope that IED’s kill all republican children, come on can’t we see where this path of logic leads.

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink