Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Does Boozman Really Rate an "F"? Its Complicated

Federal Senator John Boozman faces a primary challenge from Curtis Coleman. Boozman recently received an "F" rating from Conservative Review, a nationally known conservative group aligned with radio talk show host Mark Levin. The Coleman campaign gotten a bit of traction lately, with their hiring of the campaign consultant who orchestrated David Brat's Republican primary upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Boozman's campaign has also had an uninspiring start with a misleading fund-raising letter. Still, does Boozman really rate an "F" as a conservative?

That depends on how you define "conservative". One definition of "conservative" is "resistance to changes in the status quo." So if you think "conservative" means "make the law so that the people who are running things now keep running things no matter what their policies or outcomes" then Boozman doubtlessly deserves an "A+" rating. That was one reason why his fundraising letter posing as a Washington outsider who was against bail outs was so distasteful.

Some groups focus on one or two issues, such as Arkansas Right to Life or the Arkansas Family Council. The heads of both of those groups (Rose Mimms and Jerry Cox) have given Boozman high marks. One explanation for the discrepancy is that Boozman is fiscally liberal but socially conservative so he gets higher marks from groups that only consider social issues.

I don't buy it. John Boozman is hardly a pro-life crusader. The party legislative system works to shield members from having to make controversial pro-life votes. The nominal "pro-life" votes he has made are on the margins of the issue. He did not for example, filibuster to defund Planned Parenthood despite their recently revealed abominations. So no, he did not expend any political capital for the sake of the unborn. He made the safe votes that came before him and otherwise pretty much kept his mouth shut.

The same thing with "Pro-Family" issues. The Supreme Court just made an outrageous decision to impose public recognition of homosexual relationships as marriage across the nation. It was the biggest affront to family values in a generation. Where was John Boozman during all of this? Silent and invisible. So what constitutes an "F"? Is it being actively against your side, or when someone gets massive support from pro-family voters is it an "F" if they just sit there as an inert substance while the people who elected you are getting steam rolled one of the biggest pro-family issues of this generation?

Mimms and Cox praised Boozman to the sky in the article. I don't see that, especially if one grades on the curve of "how much did you do for us compared to how much support you received from us?" I think that there is a danger for a lot of these groups that start as watchdog groups. They can become captured by the establishment. Instead of them influencing the politicians to take risks and get out front supporting the issues important to the people these groups are supposed to represent, they can get that flipped and wind up giving cover to the political establishment that they are supposed to be holding accountable. In politics everybody is trying to use everybody else. Maybe they have gotten out used? I don't know, but I do know that whatever Boozman's actual "conservative" grade should be, he should not be getting the kind of cover he is getting from Family Council and Arkansas Right to Life. Something is wrong there. And these are supposed to be his strengths. His fiscal record has been even worse.

On the other hand, Mark Levin has been a big proponent of an Article V Convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. That scares me. The people in today's political leadership are not founding fathers material and I shudder at the thought that they might get a chance to re-write our founding document. It has served us well when it is observed so changing the Constitution can hardly be the answer. Our problem is the people who run the two major parties and their unwillingness to abide by it, not the text of the document.

Coleman has in the past been favorable to the idea of a convention. If he still is maybe that is why Levin's group is so willing to go after Boozman. If so, the "F" represents an exaggeration to achieve an effect rather than solid scoring. Their score seems to be the outlier, but as I mentioned some "conservative" groups have actually become captured by the establishment and cover for establishment guys like Boozman. Their scores are unrealistically generous.

The American Conservative Union is not one of those. They quoted as saying that Boozman started right, and has drifted left and currently has a "79%" score. That would be a C+. So is that the right score? By any fair definition of "conservative" in a policy sense, giving Boozman an "A" is ridiculous. Giving him an "F" is not ridiculous, but it may not be quite right either.  I think the truth is probably somewhere between the ACU's "C+" and the "F" that Levin's group assigns him. He should have done a lot better, particularly considering the support he has gotten from conservatives.

The winner of the party primary faces Democrat Conner Eldridge and Libertarian Frank Gilbert in the general election.


Blogger dave elswick said...

Same mag says Cotton is a D and Westerman is a D-. Don't buy any of these grades

2:59 PM, December 15, 2015  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

That sounds close to right to me. The nation is falling apart and the Republicans are the majority in Congress. One should not expect the "average" grade to be a "C" when the performance of Congress overall is unacceptably low. The average grade (sans grade inflation) should be BELOW a "C" in such an environment.

Maybe you consider Westerman and Cotton to be "above average" and that's fine so long as you have good reason for it. Still, being somewhat above average in this group is a "C". So maybe they are a little lower than you think they should be, but how would you justify giving either of them a "B" or an "A", other than you have personally interacted with them I mean?

6:13 AM, December 17, 2015  

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