The Times Embraces Ideological Rating System - For Conservatives, Anyway

First Sen. Brownback, now Rep. Duncan Hunter - GOP presidential candidates who announce their candidacies are greeted in the Times with ideological ratings from the American Conservative Union. But what about the liberal Democrats?

In Friday's " " target="_self">2nd Republican ">Enters Race For Presidency," on California Rep. Duncan Hunter's announcement he would seek the Republican nomination for president, reporter Sarah Abruzzese cites Hunter's lifetime rating of 92 from the American Conservative Union, sometimes the Times rarely if ever does with Democratic candidates.

"Mr. Hunter, who has a 92 percent lifetime conservative rating from the American Conservative Union, repeated his opposition to abortion this week, telling thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators here that, if elected, he would not nominate judges who supported abortion."

Similarly, when Republican Sen. Sam Brownback launched his campaign on Saturday in Topeka, Rachel Swarns dug out his ACU rating: "The American Conservative Union, which hails him as one of 'the best of the best' in the Senate, gave him a 100 percent conservative rating in its most recent survey of Congress."

It's good to see the Times making use of the ACU ratings, which are indeed valuable measurements of a politician's ideology. But why not apply it to liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton (lifetime ACU rating: 9out of 100) as well as conservative Republicans?

Yet in the past, the Times has dissed GOP use of a similar rating system from National Journal, at least when the GOP dared to apply the numbers to liberal Democrats.

From a photo caption that appeared in the July 27, 2004 edition, during the Democratic National Convention: "At the Democratic convention, the Republicans' war room was decorated on Monday with the so-called liberal ratings of Democrats' voting records." A close look at the photo shows four visible printouts on the wall, each reading: "2003 National Journal Ratings" followed by the names of the senator carrying that rating (Sens. Lautenberg, Levin, Clinton and Kennedy).

A Nexis search suggests the Times has applied a rating to a Democratic presidential candidate for 2008 on precisely one occasion, when Jeff Zeleny used the National Journal ratings to mark the liberal voting records of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as well as Republican Sen. John McCain.