The Myth of Steve Israel, 'Moderate Democrat'

Reporter Janie Lorber tried to argue that voting against conservatives 88 percent of the time makes you a "moderate." They apparently grade "moderate" on a liberal curve.

In Saturday's Times, reporter Janie Lorber touted that "Pelosi Chooses a New Yorker For House Fund-Raising Post." Rep. Steve Israel will chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Lorber painted him as a centrist:

Mr. Israel, 52, a moderate who represents portions of Long Island, would succeed Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Republicans picked up at least 61 House seats in this year's midterm elections, knocking off many Democratic incumbents, some in swing and Republican-leaning districts...

Returning Democrats to the majority - and securing the money to do it - will be no small task in a presidential election year amid a still-sputtering economy. And, with the moderate Blue Dog Coalition decimated, Mr. Israel's main job will be trying to recruit middle-of-the-road Democrats like himself.

But is Steve Israel "moderate"? A check of the American Conservative Union ratings shows he drew a zero score in 2009 and a zero score in 2008. His lifetime average is 12.3. (He would be less liberal than Van Hollen, who's averaged a 2.86 out of 100.) Lorber also suggested his support for Steny Hoyer puts him in the center:

Mr. Israel worked his way into the Pelosi inner circle after supporting Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland instead of Ms. Pelosi in the battle for minority whip in 2001 and voting with Republicans on some issues, like the Bush tax cuts.

Hoyer's ACU average is 7.5, making him barely less liberal than Pelosi (2.7 percent). Like Israel, Hoyer drew an ACU zero in 2008 and 2009. Being in the "middle of the road" for Democrats doesn't make you "middle of the road" in American politics. They're grading "moderates" on a liberal curve.

Lorber wasn't as silly as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which placed Israel on the "center-right" on Monday, like he was three bad votes away from the Heritage Foundation:

Centrists questioned whether the liberal Pelosi should run for minority leader, noting the losses. Naming Israel, a member of the center-right "Blue Dog" caucus, to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will likely be seen as an accommodation of such criticism.