A few days ago, National Review Online posted an article by John Fund entitled “Democrats Are Dumping Moderates.” For the record, I think Mr. Fund is a very astute observer of the political scene, someone I usually read with pleasure and profit. But not this time. Whom, you may ask, did he offer as an example of a “dumped” moderate Democrat? None other than Diane Feinstein, the senior senator from the great state of California, mainly because she had lost a vote of confidence from “65 percent of the state Democratic Party’s 330-member executive committee.”
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d like to believe I’m capable of tolerating a little deviation from orthodoxy here and there. For example, even though John McCain isn’t my favorite Republican, his lifetime American Conservative Union (ACU) voting record is, well, not so bad (80.91 percent). I wouldn’t want a Senate filled with John McCain types, but I’d gladly take a more of them if it meant fewer Diane Feinsteins.
Because the fact is, Senator Feinstein has been a friend of the Left—the far Left—as long as she’s been in the Senate. There’s no denying, I can’t see into her soul, but I can see her voting record and what Leftists think of it. To find that out, one need go no further than the site of the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), which for decades has been scoring Congress on key votes.
How has Diane been doing? I’ll admit this much: 2016 was a much better year for her than I expected. She managed a score of 85, the same as then-junior-Senator Barbara Boxer (now replaced by Kamala Harris) who, if I read Mr. Fund’s article carefully, was never mentioned as a moderate Democrat. But any way you slice it, Feinstein gets a solid B for her liberalism. She may be fifteen points to the right of Chuck Schumer and ten better than Cory Booker, but there’s no way in the world 85 translates into moderation.
Let’s look at it from another angle. By the ADA ratings, Feinstein is 85 points to the left of Ted Cruz of Texas who received a flat 0. If 85 falls within the range of moderation, what’s immoderation? 89, 90, 95? Does Leftist mania kick in only when Bernie calls for a national property tax, education for all at state expense, health care for all at state expense, a ninety-percent top tax rate for—you guessed it—the one (or was it two) percent?
Feinstein hasn’t exactly played Horatius at the bridge on such matters; when Obamacare, raising taxes, and controlling gun ownership became the rallying cries in Leftist ranks, she stood at attention and marched; and she wasn’t shy about it. True, her scores vary a bit from year to year (75 for 2015; 90 for 2014; 100 for 2013). The ADA doesn’t have a lifetime voting average so far as I can see, but does anyone want to bet Feinstein’s would land somewhere around 90?
This disturbs me because when Fund calls Feinstein “moderate,” he’s aping the liberal media of the last forty years in the way they’ve routinely classified Republicans. You know what I mean: anytime a liberal Republican made the headlines, he was called a “moderate” Republican. Still is. That’s what Nelson Rockefeller was for years, or so we were told. It’s what Democrats would like all Republicans to be—their kind of moderation, at any rate.
Many liberal Republicans found it easy to play that game, but now and again the truth came out. I recall in 1964, Governor William “Bill” Scranton launched a last-ditch campaign to stop Barry Goldwater from receiving the Republican nomination. Among the various mailings he sent out was a brochure containing a collection of three rather large political buttons. They all had the same message, “Scranton for President,” but they differed in one telling respect, namely, the size of the lettering on each.
Under the one with an almost microscopic print, the brochure proclaimed “For the Conservative.” The next one, with modest but easily legible type, had the caption “For the Moderate.” That last one “For the Liberal” had lettering so large that it filled every square millimeter with its curvy, flamboyant proclamation. Evidently, Scranton Republicans knew their man; so did Conservative Republicans who wanted nothing to do with him. Be that as it may, letting the “liberal” cat out of the bag was an aberration. More often than not, liberal Democrats and liberal journalists preferred the dodge of calling liberal Republicans “moderates,” and liberal Republicans thought that was just fine.
So, as I say, it pains me to see astute men, such as John Fund, embracing the same tendency. Diane Feinstein may well get her ADA act back on track next rating cycle and get the 100 percent she so richly deserved in 2013, but even if she gets another 75, as in 2015, that’s still far from “moderate,” and, judging from previous years, her aberration.
True, she hasn’t begun distributing copies of Marx’s Capital in her home state to regain the confidence she’s apparently lost, but she doesn’t have to. Californians know a Leftist when they see one, and as that state has moved Left, her position has remained been secure.
If her re-nomination is in doubt today, it isn’t because she’s become moderate (ACU lifetime voting score of 8.79—just for the record), but because she’s gotten too old. Age plays well for Bernie; not for Diane. However, current worries notwithstanding, she’ll likely return to the Senate next term, and in that event, expect the same old “moderation”: marching in lockstep with the Left.