Who's More Progressive, Hillary or Obama?

Conservatives attacking Barack Obama and his supporters wanting change believe Obama is a more progressive candidate than Hillary Clinton. Let's take a look at that, because their voting records in the Senate suggest otherwise.

Progressive Punch is a site that rates the legislative records of all Senators on progressive issues. For 2007-2008, Barack Obama is the 43rd most progressive out of 100 Senators. # 44 is Joe Lieberman. After #50, they are all Republicans, except for Tim Johnson. (Overall, his ranking is 88% or 24 out of 99, possibly suggesting he has become less progressive over time in the Senate.)

Hillary Clinton is rated far more progressive for 2007-2008, at #29. Her score is 90% to Obama's 81%. Overall, she ranks 17 out of 99, with a 91% progressive voting record, to his 24 out of 99 and an 88% progressive voting record.).

Obama's weakest score: On human rights and civil liberties he's at 75%, and #42 out of 99. One reason: in 2005, he voted "no" on a bill to cut funding for a new $36 million maximum security prison at Guantanamo.

( Roll Call 93, HR 1268, Fiscal 2005 Supplemental Appropriations/Vote to Delete Funding for the Construction of a New $36 Million Maximum Security Prison at Guantanamo) Cuba. Apr 13, 2005.

Also, he was absent for a close FISA cloture vote in April, 2007. Hillary was there and voted with the progressive Dems.

Here's another one, on judicial nominations. Remember the contentious Priscilla Owen?

P.N. 194. Judicial Nominations/Procedural Vote on a Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Nomination of Priscilla Richman Owen to be a Federal Appellate Court Judge.

Obama voted for cloture and an up or down vote on Priscilla Owen. To be fair, so did Hillary. The Dems who voted otherwise: Biden (D-DE),Boxer (D-CA), Cantwell (D-WA),Corzine (D-NJ),Dayton (D-MN), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND),Feingold (D-WI), Kennedy (D-MA),Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI),Lincoln (D-AR),Murray (D-WA),Reed (D-RI),Sarbanes (D-MD)Stabenow (D-MI).

Another example: Class-Action lawsuits. In one of his first votes as Senator, in Feb. 2005, Obama voted against progressives on a bill to move them to federal court which is more hostile to consumers than state courts.

In opposing the legislation, Progressives were joined by civil rights, consumer and other public interest groups in arguing that it would prevent seriously injured plaintiffs from obtaining justice, as the federal courts are already overburdened with case backlogs and because those courts might be less inclined to approve large monetary awards even where they are truly deserved. About half of all Democrats joined Republicans to pass the legislation by a vote of 72 to 26; thus defeating Progressives and approving legislation that would make it more difficult for whole classes of injured consumers to go to federal court to seek redress for their grievances.

Hillary voted with progressives against the bill.

Six days after becoming a U.S. Senator, Obama voted to confirm Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State. So did Hillary. The Dems voting against her confirmation: Akaka (D-HI),Bayh (D-IN) Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV),Dayton (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Kennedy,(D-MA),Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ),Levin (D-MI),Reed (D-RI)

Obama was absent on a critical vote to Invoke Cloture on an Amendment to Create a Two-Step Process for Agricultural Workers to Apply for Temporary and then Permanent Legal Residence in the U.S. Apr 19, 2005. (Hillary voted with progressives to invoke cloture.)

One of the most hotly-contested areas of debate on the 2005 Supplemental Appropriations bill involved the status of immigrant workers in the U.S. (The general purpose of the supplemental spending bill was to provide emergency funding for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and disaster relief assistance for victims of the December 2004 tsunami.) In an effort to address the seasonal worker shortage in agricultural areas of the country, Senator Craig (R-ID) introduced an amendment which would have created a two-step process for agricultural workers to apply for temporary and then permanent legal residence in the U.S. (Senators attributed the current shortage in temporary workers to newly-imposed caps on the H-2B visa program. That program allowed businesses to hire foreign temporary seasonal workers with a mandated return to their home country when no other American workers were available.) Progressives supported Craig's proposal as a way to insure the continued availability of labor for small and seasonal businesses.

The subject of this vote was a procedural motion to invoke cloture on the Craig-Mikulski amendment, a motion which Progressives endorsed based on their support for the proposal. If successful, the cloture motion would limit debate and amendment on the underlying legislation and allow the matter to be voted upon. However, sixty votes are required to invoke cloture, an often difficult task in the divided Senate. Although fifty three senators voted to invoke cloture, the motion failed to attract the necessary sixty votes to shut off debate and the Craig-Mikulski amendment was not allowed to proceed to a final vote.

Turning to Hillary:

She gets a 100% progressive voting rating on Enfranchising the Disenfranchised and Voting Rights. Obama has no record on this.

In 2002, she voted to restore voting rights to ex-offenders.

This amendment to the election overhaul bill would have made it easier for convicted felons to vote after serving their time. At the time of the vote, 14 states banned felons from voting and several others placed numerous restrictions on the practice. Progressives saw this as a form of disenfranchisement that disproportionately impacted African-Americans and Latinos. The opponents to the amendment carried the day, with the motion falling 31-63.

Other areas Hillary scored with progressive votes: on restoring habeas, interrogation practices, preventing military contractors from participating in interrogations and requiring DOJ to hand over documents on the detainees.

Here is Hillary's voting record on Equal Access to Justice Issues. Her negatives are her vote for cloture on Priscilla Owens and her being absent from a close vote on a bankruptcy amendment offered by Charles Schumer " intended to ensure that wealthy people could not hide considerable assets in trusts to prevent those assets from being seized in the course of a bankruptcy ," and a vote on a gun control bill that would have increased penalties for criminals who use armor piercing bullets. (85 Senators voted with her.)

Interestingly, she is being attacked by Obama for her votes on trade and labor rights. Her record shows a 100% backing of progressive votes on "Aid to Workers Negatively Impacted Upon by International Trade Agreements." and on General Union Rights and on Outsourcing of American Jobs Overseas. Here's her record on Preventing Workers' Rights From Being Eroded by International Trade Agreements. Solidly progressive with the exception of one bill in 2002.

Hillary has a 100% progressive voting record on issues related to corporate subsidies and on housing. She ranks as the number 1 progressive among all senators on these issues.

She is also ranked as the number 1 progressive among all Senators on Darfur, nuclear weapons, arms control treaties, military spending in general, intelligence oversight, general U.S. military intervention overseas, and the well-being of military personnel.

You can follow the links for further analysis, For me the message is clear. Hillary has a more progressive record than Barack Obama, and Obama hasn't been in the Senate long enough to have a position on many issues I care about. I often say, with respect to issues on which I disagree with Hillary and have to take Obama at his word despite his modified over time positions on these same issues, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

Here, I'll say, the progressive you know is better than the progressive without a sufficient track record.

< Karl Rove's Advice for Hillary Clinton | Hillary's Voting Record on Trade, Labor and Union Issues >
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  • Display: Sort:
    The question is why the perception (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Prabhata on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:41:50 PM EST
    It's understandable that the right wing  would paint Obama as super liberal.  But why have the blogs not looked into the man's voting record is beyond me.  

    Because his history doesn't matter to them (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by phat on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:44:28 PM EST
    They want a "new" politics or whatever.



    and why hasn't the mainstream media? (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:45:20 PM EST
    They get paid to do this stuff. I took a morning off from work to do it.

    Thank you for your monring's work (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:41:45 PM EST
    as I also tried to get attention on blogs to the basic comparates but gave up -- and this is much better by far than what I had before.  Bookmarked.:-)

    Progressive blogs support ActBlue (none / 0) (#4)
    by Prabhata on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:50:57 PM EST
    I've seen some of the candidates that were supported by ActBlue voting right wing.  I'm very disappointed in the effort to elect progressives because too many have turned out to be bad apples.  

    Remember (none / 0) (#11)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:58:30 PM EST
    The right-wingers will do this to all liberals.  The right-wingers have been massively successful at painting center-right politics as "liberal".  both Hillary and Obama are fairly center-right in my opinion and the media will repeat this right-wing talking point because the right-wing is so loud and the liberals don't defend themselves adequately.  

    I blame the liberals for not standing up for the liberal brand.  Hillary is just as much to blame for this as most other democrats.  

    It's politics I guess.  Fortunately the conservative brand is in even worse shape right now.  


    Thank you, Jeralyn, for doing this comparison (none / 0) (#67)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:10:41 PM EST
    Some bloggers are not willing to even discuss policies and issues as they fear flame wars in their comment sections. Or there's only one true candidate. This blog has some balance--and lots of rationality.

    It's become frustrating to not even have the left blogistan actually doing daily or weekly compare/contrast among the Dem candidates. To me, issues and stands are the most important things, but then I'm a pretty old fart and want to see some progressisve, liberal, positive results before I die.

    I am very worried that we do not know what we are getting with an Obama; Hillary's stands seem pretty clear, warts and all.

    Voters, it's nearly 10PM. Do you know where your candidates are politically?

    Most sure do not, except for a very few things. Does anyone have a good idea what kind of judges Obama and Clinton would nominate? We can look at Bill Clinton's choices and hope for younger, perhaps more actively pro-civil liberties judges, but do we have good ideas?


    All True (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Edgar08 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:52:22 PM EST
    Clinton supporters pointed this kind of stuff out long ago on other Blogs, but the nomination turned out to be about different things.

    that is very telling and thanks (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by athyrio on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:54:47 PM EST
    to Jeralyn we now know...Obama is republican lite and way too willing to compromise on important issues like Health Care....

    it's actually pretty close (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:01:05 PM EST
    If you rank by "Lifetime" in the Senate,

    Hillary Clinton gets 91.51%
    Barack Obama gets    89.28%

    I think "lifetime record" is more important than any single year.

    except his lifetime record (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:35:54 PM EST
    is 3 years and her's is 7.

    fine, so compare their 3-year records (none / 0) (#71)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:24:06 PM EST
    So, compare this three years to Clinton's for the same three years.

    I'll bet you $5 they're pretty similar!

    (I see you made a bet last night with BTD, which is why I said that)


    Who is more progressive? (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by nemo52 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:04:14 PM EST
    Obama followers (note I do not indicate supporters, but followers here) base their perceptions on one thing only:  Hillary's vote before the Iraq war, which apparently wipes out all other progressive work she has done over the years.

    Perceived hawkishness (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Plutonium Page on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:33:46 PM EST
    One talking point that is repeated on blogs and offline is that Hillary is more hawkish than Obama regarding Middle Eastern policy.

    What most people don't know - and wouldn't, because they don't do research or read much - is that they're very similar.

    Two quotes:

    From the July/August 2007 Foreign Affairs, we have a piece written by Barack Obama in which he says:

    Throughout the Middle East, we must harness American power to reinvigorate American diplomacy. Tough-minded diplomacy, backed by the whole range of instruments of American power -- political, economic, and military -- could bring success even when dealing with long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria. Our policy of issuing threats and relying on intermediaries to curb Iran's nuclear program, sponsorship of terrorism, and regional aggression is failing. Although we must not rule out using military force, we should not hesitate to talk directly to Iran. Our diplomacy should aim to raise the cost for Iran of continuing its nuclear program by applying tougher sanctions and increasing pressure from its key trading partners. The world must work to stop Iran's uranium-enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. At the same time, we must show Iran -- and especially the Iranian people -- what could be gained from fundamental change: economic engagement, security assurances, and diplomatic relations.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Now, from Sen. Clinton's piece in the November/December 2007 Foreign Affairs:

    The Bush administration refuses to talk to Iran about its nuclear program, preferring to ignore bad behavior rather than challenge it.


    As a result, we have lost precious time. Iran must conform to its nonproliferation obligations and must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table.

    On the other hand, if Iran is in fact willing to end its nuclear weapons program, renounce sponsorship of terrorism, support Middle East peace, and play a constructive role in stabilizing Iraq, the United States should be prepared to offer Iran a carefully calibrated package of incentives. This will let the Iranian people know that our quarrel is not with them but with their government and show the world that the United States is prepared to pursue every diplomatic option.

    Unfortunately, the US Democratic electorate doesn't read.

    To be fair (none / 0) (#75)
    by coigue on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:29:38 PM EST
    it is a perception that she herself has developed. And with good reason.

    People chosen as advisers and spokespersons (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:59:32 PM EST
    are also good indicators of a candidates' intentions, perhaps moreso than some speeches?

    Via correntewire (iirc) I came across this discussion at riverdaughter of Obama's healthcare pointman.

    Hounds and FOXes come running in from right field when Obama's bandwagon cranks up its 120dB dog whistle Wurlitzer. His policy point man is an ivory tower free marketeer (and DLC's Senior Economist). His Social Security wingman is an avid privatizer.

    The third horse in BO's domestic policy troika is health care maven David Cutler -- a technology optimist, of American Exceptionalist bent.

    Do other countries do health care better? Irrelevant -- we're different. Expensive? We ought to spend a lot more. Patients Bill of Rights? Dead issue. Single payer? Dissed and dismissed in a single paragraph of his book. Insure the uninsured? Sure, but don't let that distract us from the real issues. Negotiate drug prices? Careful, you'll kill the Golden Goose!

    Lots more.

    Now, I hope I can get this to take without crawling all over the width of the page:

    http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/audiology-of-hope-360-special-topics-in-health-care-fi nance/

    What I've read about other advisers is that they also are very DLC or even Republican Lite (this healthcare guy seemingly would fit right in with BushCo).

    Maybe, maybe not (none / 0) (#5)
    by Heather on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:51:02 PM EST
    It depends if you believe that polarization is good for achieving progressive outcomes or not. It depends if you believe that the potential to grow a 65% working majority is good for progressive policy or not. It depends if you believe that a black man might have a better understanding of the realities facing folks who are disenfranchised, discriminated against and less likely to achieve in school, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be poor, more likely to be in prison, etc. And as a result may be better able to implement solutions. If you believe that.

    Legislative records are fine and good but it depends upon what you believe.

    Makes no sense (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Lena on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:22:47 PM EST
    "Legislative records are fine and good but it depends upon what you believe"

    So we shouldn't judge Obama on his legislative record because he's "less polarizing?"

    I imagine that anyone who votes in the middle of the pack and doesn't actually pursue progressive policies is less polarizing, yes. Doesn't mean I want to elect them though. And it would seem to indicate that they aren't actually a progressive.

    As to disenfranchisement... didn't Obama say he didn't want to support seating the delegates from my state (Fla.) unless he would win anyway? Great stance on enfranchising voters! It must be why the voters in my state totally love Obama! (not)Sheesh.


    beliefs are irrlevant (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:31:56 PM EST
    if you won't invest the political capital into making them a reality  or if you are willing to compromise some of your beliefs to achieve results on others.

    Many politicians, for example, personally oppose the death penalty but won't spend any political capital to end it. It's the law. What difference does their personal belief make? None.

    That's just one example.


    You would think so (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by rebecca on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:06:02 PM EST
    It depends if you believe that a black man might have a better understanding of the realities facing folks who are...

    Unfortunately, we have many examples of people who do not follow this idea.  Look at Clarence Thomas or Phylis Schlaffly.  Merely being of a minority group does not mean you will understand or accept the realities of that group.  The only way we can judge a person is not by their skin color or their sex but by their actions.  Legislative actions are one means to see if their actions match up with the expectations we have of a politician.  To say that because Obama is AA he therefore is... ignores the AAs who have not been any of the things you listed.  Note I am not comparing Obama to Thomas or Schlaffly merely noting that because he is an AA doesn't tell us anything of his politics or beliefs.  We have to look elsewhere.  


    Progressives (none / 0) (#6)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:51:11 PM EST
    should be a little bit skeptical of both candidates.  I really don't understand how otherwise died-in-the-wool liberals have a hard preference for either candidate.  

    I'm so sick of how this campaign has strayed from the issues and revolved around hard-to-define words like "experience", "judgment" and "change".  The whole process has seemed silly to me.  Thank you for pointing to actually policy stances.

    Progressives should be battering both candidates for their tepid support for a liberal platform. Too many progressives are selling their support for one candidate or the other far too cheaply.  Let's at least put some pressure on them to move left!

    The only rebuttal I have to your pro Hillary argument is that Hillary's people are far more hostile to the progressive caucus than Obama's people. Plus, you're right that we are more certain to know what we are getting in Hillary (although it's quite silly to characterize her as  the "progressive we know").  We can be sure that we will get more 3rd way triangulation from a President Clinton.  With Obama there is hope that and some indication that he will not be as hostile to progressives.  If Obama turns out to be as hostile to progressives as Hillary promises to be then we can turn our fury on him.  I certainly will.

    Hm? (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by TheRealFrank on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:54:11 PM EST
    We can be sure that we will get more 3rd way triangulation from a President Clinton.

    What do you base that on? The whole point made in this post is that Clinton has a solid progressive record.


    Solid progressive record? (none / 0) (#13)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:59:45 PM EST
    Hah!  Give me a break.  Hey, I take Jeralyn's point and agree with her that Obama is getting painted as more of a progressive than he really is.  But that don't make Hillary a progressive.

    You did not answer my question. (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by TheRealFrank on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:07:43 PM EST
    If Hillary's record is at least as progressive as Obama's, why do you think she'll "triangulate", while Obama might not? What makes you so sure?

    Please do not ask for facts (none / 0) (#22)
    by Kathy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:12:48 PM EST
    they only muddy the waters.

    Kathy (none / 0) (#35)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:24:41 PM EST
    I'm sure your support of Hillary is based on solid logic.  It's just us crazy liberals that don't see how awesomely progressive Hillary is.  I guess we have Hillary hate, huh?  I would have dropped Kucinich like an anvil if I wasn't such a sexist pig.

    Once again.  Try to put your emotions about Hillary aside.  I'm not supporting Obama or Hillary.  But it's laughable to state that the "facts" prove Hillary is progressive.

    Hillary would have been a moderate republican 20 years ago.  And Obama votes like a moderate republican.  I'm not fooled into thinking either of these candidates is progressive.


    SF, I really wish you would not direct your (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Kathy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:45:33 PM EST
    comments to me.  Your charge that I am just another "emotional" Clinton supporter blinded by--what?  I guess hormones?--is incredibly simplistic and transparently insulting.

    As for your highjacking of the "liberal" label, I'm hard pressed to think of anything I've said that would make you think (1) I am not myself a liberal or (2) that you exclusively own this word and get to interpret its meaning at your whim.


    I was just (none / 0) (#56)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:57:14 PM EST
    dishing out what you appeared to be serving to me i.e. that I wasn't basing my opinion on "facts" and was being overly emotional.

    Everyone's emotional now--at least Obama and Clinton supporters are.  I guess I come at it from the perspective of not really liking either of the candidates because they are both not liberal enough.

    But yes, I am more liberal than both the candidates.  It doesn't take special powers or a progressive punch list for me to realize that.  I don't speak for all liberals but I know a liberal when I see one and neither Hillary or Obama are liberals.  


    the crazy part is (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by Kathy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:08:23 PM EST
    I was not even talking to you.

    Right... (none / 0) (#60)
    by mindfulmission on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:59:54 PM EST
    ... so you can make accusations that Obama supporters don't like to deal with facts, but no one else can challenge you in a similar way?

    I was speaking to the RealFrank (none / 0) (#87)
    by Kathy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:18:40 PM EST
    Really.  He is the one who asked for clarification.

    I said that facts only muddy the waters...as we saw with the flag burning issue, which keeps getting raised, keeps getting explained and yet...here it is again.


    Hey (none / 0) (#30)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:18:54 PM EST
    I'm not defending Obama.  Obama "triangulates" as well by picking moderate positions.  But he simply does not get accused of triangulating as much as Hillary.  Once again, I know it doesn't seem fair to you Hillary supporters--but that's politics.  People perceive Hillary to be more of triangulator than Obama.  This grousing that he's getting away with characterizing himself differently than he really is seems to be grousing that he's a better politician.

    As far as the actual triangulation.  My main problem with Clintonian triangulation is that it kneecaps us liberals.  It's not simply positioning oneself in the middle to appear moderate.  It's adopting a right-wing position as a major policy initiative--say on the war on drugs, or welfare reform, or executing people, or immigration law--that strikes a blow to the heart of liberal policy.  It's also hard to separate Hillary from Bill.  I see Obama as being less likely to make a right-wing policy initiative his main legislative agenda.  

    I simply see him as slightly less likely to use his "moderate" positions to weaken liberals.  He also seems more likely to let us on his left do the fighting for him.


    I'm not using my yardstick (none / 0) (#39)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:33:11 PM EST
    by which neither would be particularly progressive, I'm using the progressives' yardstick.

    Not quite... (none / 0) (#61)
    by mindfulmission on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:01:03 PM EST
    ... you are not using the progressives' yardstick.  You are using one progressive group's yardstick.

    Post-partisanship = triangulation (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by ineedalife on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:02:29 PM EST
    Obama proudly embraces triangulation. He just uses different branding and expects different results.

    I do not think Obama is not a liberal idealogue (none / 0) (#18)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:04:31 PM EST
    and is open to new ideas, even if they are more on the moderate side of things.....I like that about him.

    The best example so far is how both candidates respond to the foreclosure crisis.  Hillary wants to freeze ARMs and foreclosures of the most risky loans.....Obama said during the debate in LA that doing so would make interest rates skyrocket for everyone else....Yes, it sure would, and a real estate recession would turn into a depression with credit impossible to get.

    Obama proposes a goverment fund to help those who face foreclosure....The rule of thumb for interfering in private markets to achieve a social good, is that subsidies (Obama's plan) are better than price controls (Hillary's plan to freeze interest rates, etc.) because price controls create all kinds of secondary distortions, whereas subsidies are more targeted..... Conservatives of course would not intervene at all.

    Telling me that Obama's voting record is less liberal than Hillary's is actually a positive selling point for me....The argument to the contrary convinces me even more that Obama can get independent votes....

    Obama is not a liberal idealogue (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:05:19 PM EST
    I never understood (none / 0) (#29)
    by flyerhawk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:18:33 PM EST
    How Hillary didn't get slapped hard on the price control idea.  It has NEVER worked.  Even most Liberals should know this.  

    Eh. She voted "no" (none / 0) (#21)
    by LiberallyDebunked on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:12:12 PM EST
    on cutting funding for cluster bombs if they're used on civilians. Now didn't Obama work on nuclear non-proliferation? I guess that's not the same thing exacly. More of a national security issue. And ethics probably aren't a purely progressive issue. Nor do issues at the state level such as videotaping interrogations count I suppose.

     As far as leglislation goes who ultimately has more meat depends on your analysis but they're about even in number.

    Tonight's Debate (none / 0) (#23)
    by glanton on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:13:17 PM EST
    This is something they need to get into, during tonight's debate.  

    My biggest problem with Obama is that his campaign has from the beginning eschewed distinctions between the political parties.  He hesitates to praise Democratic principles even as he vies to carry the Democratic banner.


    I do not think that he has (none / 0) (#31)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:20:13 PM EST
    "eschewed distinctions between the political parties"

    Rather, he urges people to transcend them.

    Quite a difference.  He's saying that people of both political parties can work together on some issues.  And he's right (e.g., Obama-Lugar non-proliferation, Obama-Coburn Ethics stuff, etc.)

    Some of our most partisan and hard-core Dem leaders in the past (Tip O'Neill, e.g.) were able to work with Republicans to get stuff done.

    Right now, the GOP leadership refuses to work with anybody (setting all time records for filibustering).

    What Obama is doing here seems pretty simple to me.  He's urging the people to demand from their leaders to transcend that so they can work together on at least the issues where there exists some common ground.

    It is said that we get the leaders that we deserve.  Obama is urging the people to demand leaders that will get beyond petty partisanship crap, such as the use of the filibuster for every little thing.


    all of that "urging" (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Kathy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:32:25 PM EST
    means absolutely nothing, which is what his record has shown.  Obama talks about how he can work with the other side, yet Clinton is the one who has actually done this again and again since she first entered the senate.  

    Choice, taxes and healthcare--bedrock democratic issues that I will never "transcend."  Tell me how Obama is going to get republicans to change their minds on these issues.  How is Obama going to persuade McCain to accept a woman's right to choose?  How is Obama going to persuade republicans to be happy about letting tax cuts expire?  How is Obama, in one fell swoop, going to take away all the pet projects and core issues that both sides have been protecting for the last fifty years and get either one to move an inch?

    Don't talk to me about hope and change and transcendence and all that other hooey that doesn't pay the rent.  Give me a concrete plan for how you are going to achieve all of these things and unite the world.  


    this is exactly (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Lena on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:46:03 PM EST
    how I feel about Obama.

    His supporters expect all the voters to simply "believe" in his character and bona fides, but I haven't seen anything to convince me that he's championed any signature issue in the Senate, or been a leader, not on any issue.

    If he were to be elected, the stakes would be even higher, and I would expect him to be even less likely to push universal health care, choice, the environment, etc.


    That's wonderfully written (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by glanton on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:54:39 PM EST
    And, let us not hold our collective breaths awaiting an Obama supporter's answers to the questions you pose.  Heck, my own group blog has been one intra-spar spar over this, and even there I have yet to get a satisfactory answer to any of this:

    Tell me how Obama is going to get republicans to change their minds on these issues.  How is Obama going to persuade McCain to accept a woman's right to choose?  How is Obama going to persuade republicans to be happy about letting tax cuts expire?  How is Obama, in one fell swoop, going to take away all the pet projects and core issues that both sides have been protecting for the last fifty years and get either one to move an inch?

    This has been depressing, I'm hoping she comes out guns blazing tonight.  Why should she worry about how the Media would spin her Aggression, being as how she's going to get negative spin no matter what she does?

    Senator Clinton:  Just look into the camera, and point out why you are a Democrat, and why you are willing to fight for the Party's core principles.    


    Hillary's problem is not that she (none / 0) (#63)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:05:02 PM EST
    isn't perceived as tough enough.   If she goes too negative, she will lose too.  She needs to establish an emotional connection with Democratic voters....

    The Obama bashing can be done by surrogates, television commericials and blogs, etc....


    I Agree She Shouldn't Bash (none / 0) (#69)
    by glanton on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:14:27 PM EST
    Obama.  But, she should be very aggressive tonight in making her case, and exert no energy worrying over post-debate coverage/spin, which will continue to skewer her until she is mout of it.  As you say, she neds to look right into the camera, make every effort to connect with Democratic voters.  

    Of course, if GOP "Dem for a Day" voters flood the Texas Democratic Primary/Caucus, it is over and done with for Hillary Clinton.  But that's another story....


    I would still like some (none / 0) (#70)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:23:48 PM EST
    objective evidence that independents who vote for Obama in a primary won't in a general election....

    And, it is ironic that Hillary has to win Texas in order to survive--a redder, more Republican state would be hard to find.....

    Obama polls routinely well among Independents....Why is all the data wrong?


    I think the best way for (none / 0) (#72)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:24:10 PM EST
    her to prove that she is a "fighter" is to take on McCain.  She's reached the point of diminishing returns as far as attacking Obama.  I can't see her getting any further points in doing so.  She needs to take some risks at this point so I think she should somehow mention the McCain scandal.  Something that will get the attention of the media ("I know something about being attacked by the media.  And let me just say that John is a friend of mine.  But there are some real questions that have been raised about his actions as a Senator when he is doing favors for a particular lobbyist.  I don't want to get into what John was doing on a plane with her.  I don't want to get into his past marriages and sex lives.  But I do care about reforming our lobbying system.  I look forward to having that discussion with John McCain."  And then maybe throw in something about working with Edwards on this issue.  What's she got to lose?  She will certainly get some attention for it.  Then when the media attacks her for being a "hypocrite" because of Bill's scandals she can play the victim card.  It's her best shot.

    That's pretty good. (none / 0) (#77)
    by glanton on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:37:49 PM EST
    Are you a political speechwriter, or just a junkie like most of the rest of us? Man, that's got a lot of bonuses, I especially like the not-so-veiled bard at the Media component, which she definitely deserves to avail herself of in some way, tonight, should she wish to do so.

    But beyond this recent McCain thing (which many Democrats, in the end including myself and likely including Hillary Clinton, understandably would rather not stoop to touch it):

    She can still follow the crux of your suggestion and go after McCain (there's plenty to go after besides that story, btw) in myriad substantive ways.  

    It either sets her up for the GE or sets up Obama should he ever take an interest in acknowledging, and (gasp!) even critiquing, GOP dangerousness.


    thanks (none / 0) (#80)
    by SFHawkguy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:49:22 PM EST
    I'm just a fellow junkie.  But if anyone wants to pay me I'm willing to become a dealer :)

    And I can't take full credit for the idea of Hillary attacking McCain to prove she's a "fighter".  Read it somewhere else . . . . I think.  

    But what does she have to lose?  It's a bit of a can of worms to open up an attack on McCain . . . but I think its worth the risk and it will benefit Hillary.

    What, are the republicans going to argue that Hillary is unfairly using a sex scandal to her advantage?  She can tell them a thing or to about being hounded over a sex scandal.  Just reminds voters about how unfair the media was to the Clintons.  She's teflon on this subject.


    Yeah... (none / 0) (#86)
    by glanton on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:17:44 PM EST
    The ideas of course circulate everywhere, everybody's plagiarizing everybody this Primary Season, in terms of ideas. And I too, would happily be a a dealer of speeches.....

    Anyway, I really hope she has a strong showing tonight.  She owes herself a strong homestretch, win or lose.


    Ding, ding! "The use of the filibuster (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:57:32 PM EST
    for every little thing"?  Now I know how to read your posts, as I know where I've read that before.

    Sort of Like (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by glanton on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:02:07 PM EST
    A Poorly Walled Dam, every now and then Team Obama, in its zeal, lets slip Rhetoric eerily reminiscent of GOP Talking Points.

    This is not to call Obama a GOP Stalking Horse, although some will take it that way.  It is only to say that Obama has Zero interest in dispelling Republican lies about Democrats.  Because his campaign is much less about Democratic principles, much more about building a Personal narrative.


    It is only to say that Obama has Zero interest in (none / 0) (#65)
    by nemo52 on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:07:06 PM EST
    Absolutely!  And he has had no compunction in using Republican talking points to demonize Hillary Clinton.

    please fill me in! (none / 0) (#73)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:26:31 PM EST
    I promise you, I have never written the phrase "filibusters for every little thing" before today.

    Are you saying you've read it somewhere else?

    (And I didn't plagiarize it, either! <g>)


    Read reples above (none / 0) (#85)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:14:56 PM EST
    but I'll believe you that you didn't know it's a RW talking point.  It must be unsettling, though, to find out that it is RW thinking.

    how is it a RW thing? (none / 0) (#89)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:26:31 PM EST
    it's damaging to the GOP isn't it?

    The filibuster not only the big things, but even the little things.  Or, whatever, the main point is that they have set all-time records for filibustering, and have made a mockery of the process (as well as exposing, for the gazillionth time, their hypocrisy, after they complained about Dems filibustering some judges).

    So, genuine curiosity: how does the RW spin it to their favor?!?


    Misunderstanding? (none / 0) (#96)
    by LarryE on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 05:14:46 PM EST
    I have to jump in here to support DC Wonk. I don't see how what was clearly a gripe about "the use of the filibuster for every little thing" becomes a right-wing talking point, especially since just a couple of sentences earlier, DCW wrote: "Right now, the GOP leadership refuses to work with anybody (setting all time records for filibustering)."

    My best guess is that you misread the post and took it to mean support of making filibusters routine instead of criticism of it.


    She used the RW phrasing, dismissive (none / 0) (#97)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 06:57:59 PM EST
    of Dem filibusters, almost word for word.

    And I agree with Obama -- or Deval Patrick, whichever -- that there always is more to be read into phrasing than "just words."


    the phrase is (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:53:41 PM EST
    I believe, "we get the government we elect."

    Looks like a wash to me... (none / 0) (#27)
    by mike in dc on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:15:26 PM EST
    ...in which case I'd go with the person who's a)more likely to win in November;b)hasn't burned progressives badly in the past(see also 1993-2000); and c)is a better salesperson for progressive ideas.

    Seriously, if his lowest "progressive" rating is 75%, I don't think we have too much to worry about.

    True (none / 0) (#42)
    by coigue on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:34:10 PM EST
    but he is an unknown. He missed a huge number of votes.

    He missed almost 40% of votes in a single year (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:47:03 PM EST
    in the Senate, getting a "very poor" ranking even for attendance.  No other member of Congress on the presidential campaign trail, including Clinton, missed so many votes (she got a slightly above average ranking).

    Reading that some time ago, reading that he promised Illinoisans to serve out his term but immediately decided otherwise, I had to wonder whether he even wants to be in D.C.  We don't need another president who spends his time in the Obaman equivalent of a ranch in Crawford.


    Clearly he wants to be there (none / 0) (#74)
    by coigue on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:28:10 PM EST
    he just was playing "property ladder" with the Senate.

    interesting look (none / 0) (#84)
    by Kathy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:14:43 PM EST
    at Obama vs Clinton vis-a-vis successful senate bills with a year by year breakdown over at No Quarter.

    I wonder if the rainforest bill was targeted specifically to get BTD's vote...


    I am glad he responded to that diary (none / 0) (#92)
    by coigue on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:46:15 PM EST
    It was clearly slanted towards Obama.

    Much as I like Obama, I prefer my information a bit less tainted.


    I always get a kick (none / 0) (#28)
    by flyerhawk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:16:58 PM EST
    out of arbitrary rankings systems based on voting records of Senators.  They completely ignore context.  

    Obama is the most Liberal Senator!  Obama is the most Conservative Senator this side of Joe Lieberman.  Hillary is the most Liberal!  Hillary is the most Conservative!

    It's a joke.  Cherrypicking votes while ignoring context is extremely deceptive.  How many of those votes were close enough that either candidates vote mattered?  

    This is interesting: (none / 0) (#32)
    by coigue on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:22:02 PM EST
    Obama's weakest score: On human rights and civil liberties he's at 75%, and #42 out of 99. One reason: in 2005, he voted "no" on a bill to cut funding for a new $36 million maximum security prison at Guantanamo.

    I actually have mixed feelings about this. Why? Because if we don't have such prisons here we outsource the job to other countries....yup, I am talking about rendition. Michael Scheur (whom I don't always agree with) was saying in an interview that we have to have prisons for "war criminals" or we have to outsource. What is the answer. Perhaps more money for Gitmo will mean fewer dog cages?

    I don't know the whole story.

    Arrgh (none / 0) (#36)
    by muffie on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:27:10 PM EST
    Your complaints about votes (or the absence of a vote) on specific issues is perfectly legitimate.  However, can we please stop trying to boil the votes down into a single number without at least looking at the methodology?

    For this website, there's no clear statement (that I can find) of how the overall progressive score is actually computed.  But it's easy to see the numbers are nonsense.

    Obama's overall "progressive score" in the Senate is  given as 88.37%, however, out of 14 categories, only 2 of them (Family Planning and Human Rights & Civil Liberties) are listed as below that average (and based on relatively few votes).  Looking at this, it's clear that the "progressive score" is certainly not computed in the obvious fashion of votes with progressives/total votes.  Without further information, this number seems about as worthless as the National Journal finding Obama among the most liberal senators.

    Let me repeat again, I have no problem with your analysis of votes on specific issues, and it is indeed some of them are a cause for concern.

    Thank you for this post J (none / 0) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:37:19 PM EST
    I didn't have particulars but I know that Obama sponsored legislation in the past has been  solution oriented which in this current political climate has meant most of the time that stances resembling "progressive" are absent.

    This is a progressive group (none / 0) (#47)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:38:51 PM EST
    ranking Senators according to their values, not the media's perceptions of what a liberal or progressive it. The group lays out the progressive position for each vote and why votes are for or against it. Media assessments of "liberal" or "progressive" are besides the point.

    a "progressive group"?? (none / 0) (#76)
    by Tano on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:35:31 PM EST
    Oh really?

    I checked out the "About us" page.

    It seems primarily to be one person, who has decided to set himself up as the arbiter of what it means to be progressive. Plus a cople of others to help with some tasks.

    Its amazing to me that you can get thinking people to sit around arguing the progressive cred of various candidates, down to the level of slight differences in thier percentage scores, all based on the sampling opinion of one person who claims to speak for an entire movement.

    Since you are the one promoting this J, have you gone through and examined all the votes, determined if it is a good sample of all possible votes, and whether you agree that an aye or nay on each one really represents progressive values, as you define it?

    I dont put much stock in exercises like this.


    Other groups see Obama as much more liberal (none / 0) (#49)
    by Baal on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:42:47 PM EST
    I have now spent quite a bit of time perusing a wide variety of "progressiveness raters".  I have found that NOBODY ELSE who rates senators on "progressiveness" has the two candidates as far apart as the group you quote.  

    Here are two examples, I could cite others:

    ACLU rates Obama 88%, Hillary only 67%

    Americans for Democratic Action have them both at 95%

    I would be quite curious as to your explanation for why Barack is scoring so much better by ACLU.  I would suggest that given that he scores markedly better, it is hard to see how he is LESS progressive on these issues!


    Far be it from me to accuse a lawyer of cherry-picking  data, but in my view, ACLU and ADA have a lot of street-cred on these issues, and as I said, I have put some time into this now.

    thanks, I'll study that (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:56:59 PM EST
    and write a new post on it in a few days.

    Since those are issues I'm most concerned with, I'm looking foward to it.


    Hillary's for criminalizing flag burning (none / 0) (#66)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:07:44 PM EST
    That is why Hillary probably has a lower ACLU score.....

    Likely (none / 0) (#78)
    by spit on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:41:06 PM EST
    but wasn't that largely a strategy to keep a constitutional amendment banning flag burning from passing the senate (which it very nearly did, BTW)?

    I really can't remember how it played out at the time, so I don't mean it as a rhetorical question.


    Obama has the same position on (none / 0) (#81)
    by tigercourse on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:54:08 PM EST
    flag burning as Cliton does. They both opposed the amendment and supported a bill outlawing flag urning in certain situations.

    I thought Hillary supported the Amendment (none / 0) (#82)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:06:47 PM EST
    In any event, I don't think the issue is all that important....

    In my mind niether is a great liberal. So (none / 0) (#58)
    by my opinion on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 01:58:21 PM EST
    once again we have a choice of two moderate democrats.

    Thanks, Jeralyn, (none / 0) (#79)
    by sancho on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:45:02 PM EST
    for posting this. I think with either candidate, voters are "hoping" that their choice will be more progressive as President than the other one. For me, I am impressed with Hillary's commitment to public service in the face of decades long extaordinary opposition, often from those who are allegedly on the same team as she. Obama, despite his rhetoric, strikes me as inherently conservative--or at least careful. I can't tell when he has gone out on a political limb. His anti-war speech seems hollow to me--in my cyncial moments, it seems nothing more than a well done soundbite for a future presidential election aimed to persuade the gullible. I think had he been in the U. S. Senate when the Iraq vote came up, he would have voted with his mentor, Lieberman, the senator he most reminds me of. It is priceless that their names are next to each other on that list.

    Anyway, Hillary has a proven record of being willing to fight for causes that she believes in. Obama has a proven record of winning mostly non-contested elections. Shockingly, Hillary has not contested enough of his wins. As we have noted here, he also benefits from the media. Having the media help you is an enviable gift--if you can keep it. None of which means he will be a progressive when the lights come up for his State of the Union Address, should that happen. At some point his brilliant campaign will end and what will we voters be left with?

    I fear with someone just a notch more liberal than Joe Lieberman. Like the chart says.

    None of the above (none / 0) (#91)
    by Andreas on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:44:49 PM EST
    The question seems to imply that a decision between one of these two capitalist candidates is required. It is not.

    Related issue (none / 0) (#93)
    by Redstar on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:49:48 PM EST
    I hope this comment doesn't get pulled for being off topic.  There will be a FEMA trailer outside the Democratic debate tonight if people are in Austin and interested in seeing the bleak conditions in which Katrina/Rita surivors are living.  The Children's Defense Fund for whom Sen. Clinton once worked will be releasing a report next month of the health and economic status of these folks based on a recent survey in the region.  You can learn more about both these topics here:


    Yes, I support Clinton, but I also think it's imperative we keep either Democratic candidate focused on the harsh realities of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast - as it's another major clean-up job waiting for whichever one we get into office!

    (See, this is related to progressive policies and politics, right?)

    Howard Zinn (none / 0) (#94)
    by tnthorpe on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 04:29:12 PM EST
    captures the moment's ambivalence perfectly as far as I'm concerned.

    He writes, "No, I'm not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death.

        I'm talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes-the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

        But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice."

    The point is that a vote for Obama isn't the end of the progressive road, it's just one part of a long, long haul. Folk will need to pressure him to do the right thing, not the right-centrist thing.

    No matter whether Clinton or Obama gets the nod, the work progressives need to do is just beginning.

    Repeating (none / 0) (#95)
    by LarryE on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 05:04:29 PM EST
    I posted this earlier but for some reason it seems not to have appeared. If that one does turn up and this proves to be a double post, my apologies.

    I think what all these comparisons do, ultimately, is show that there is very little political/policy daylight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She is better than him on some things, he is better than her on others, but overall they are very close.

    In fact, the very site to which Jeralyn points has Obama better on five of 14 categories, Clinton better on another five, and has them essentially tied on four others. And their lifetime records are quite close, with hers only marginally better.

    (Yes, I know "lifetime" in this case is three years versus seven, but if that makes for a misleading comparison, looking at one year in isolation can be just as misleading.)

    It just seems to me that unless some particular issue or some particular point within an issue is of controlling interest to someone, I can't see where supporters of either Clinton or Obama could on policy grounds be really disappointed if the other proves to be the candidate.