Squishy Sen. John Warner, a 'Political Giant'? WaPo Says So

As part of the liberal media’s ongoing tributes to moderate Republicans and their shrinking role in the GOP, The Washington Post on Monday boosted the "legacy" of Sen. John Warner of Virginia, with the headline: "A Political Giant Takes His Leave: Warner Leaves Legacy, Void in Va. Delegation." Unsurprisingly, the Post and reporter Amy Gardner want Republicans to know that Sen. Warner wants them to put on their best bipartisan faces for President Obama:

More than ever, Warner warned, the nation's leaders must work together. "I would hope -- indeed I would urge my colleagues to give the maximum bipartisanship to help his team resolve these almost unprecedented problems facing this country."

Amy Gardner also used this occasion to wonder which Virginia Democrat would be the best nonpartisan centrist to fill the "void" of the "giant" GOP moderate:

So who leads this crew? Is it Webb, the intellect and author who, like John Warner, is a former Navy secretary and whose leadership on last year's G.I. bill has helped brand him an independent-minded nonpartisan? Is it Mark Warner, the cellphone millionaire and former Virginia Democratic Party chairman who is more likely than Webb to be drawn to state party-building, candidate recruitment and fundraising?

Webb said the entire Virginia delegation must work together to fill Warner's shoes, as must Senate Republicans, who have lost one of their last remaining moderate voices willing to reach across the aisle.

Gardner allowed Webb, incoming Senator Mark Warner, and GOP moderates like retiring Rep. Tom Davis and former GOP Gov. Linwood Holton to praise Warner’s frequent deviations from the Republican line. The story highlighted his evaluation of the Iraq war in 2006 as "drifting sideways," his backing a tax hike of then-Gov. Mark Warner, and his refusal to endorse religious conservative Michael Farris for lieutenant governor in 1993 and Oliver North for Senate in 1994. (Warner supported moderate GOPer Marshall Coleman’s doomed independent bid that led to the re-election of Democrat Sen. Chuck Robb.)

They left out one of John Warner's most controversial votes among conservatives: his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in 1987.

The Post claimed that Virginia’s Democrat Senators are just as nonpartisan and centrist:

Such deviations also characterize the political styles of Webb and Warner, making it possible for either to gravitate toward a centrist, brokering role in a chamber that Democrats control and where good relations with Republicans could be fruitful for President-elect Barack Obama.

Would these Democrats vote against an Obama Supreme Court nominee? That's a pretty tall order in party deviation, and would probably not lead to stories on their "giant" status in The Washington Post.

Are they centrists? Watch the voting records for one clue. In the American Conservative Union’s voting scores for 2007, John Warner scored a 60, certainly a moderate Republican number. But Webb voted the conservative line only 16 percent of the time, hardly a "centrist" number by comparison.

John Warner also voted more like a centrist than Webb in 2007 according to the liberal scorers at Americans for Democratic Action. Warner voted the liberal line 35 percent of the time, and Webb voted liberal 85 percent of the time.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis