Based on an assessment of their voting records for 2011, Slaughter does not make it into the top 25 liberals in the House.
I read Curt Smith’s recent comments on — or should I say, diatribe against — Louise Slaughter in the Brighton-Pittsford Post with astonishment (“Is Brooks Snatching Defeat From Victory?” from the Oct. 18 issue). Here is Smith: “No member of Congress is more ideological than Slaughter.” Smith clearly inhabits the alternate Republican universe in which actual facts have no bearing on what one says.
Smith describes the National Journal as “the inviolate Bible of Congressional voting.” If you consult this holy text, you will discover something interesting. Based on an assessment of their voting records for 2011, Slaughter does not make it into the top 25 liberals in the House. And you might note too that according to the Journal rankings none of the top 25 liberals — not a single one — have scores as high as the top ten conservatives! That is indicative of the broader pattern of partisan polarization in American politics, which research demonstrates is driven primarily by Republicans moving hard to the right.
Don’t get me wrong. I support Slaughter and wish we had more smart, dedicated progressives in Congress. But Smith clearly is trying to scare independents with tendentious claims based on cherry-picked “facts.” Slaughter simply is not the wild-eyed extremist that Smith depicts her as being. Then again, in the same essay Smith depicts the Tea-Partiers as “moderates.”
I’ll wait for Smith’s retraction. But I doubt it will be forthcoming. The editors at the Messenger Post papers, on the other hand, should withdraw the diatribe.
Professor of Political Science,
University of Rochester