The liberal media all too often confuses temperamentally "low-key" red-state Democrats for moderates when their voting record is anything but.
The latest example comes today in Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold's 40-paragraph front-page profile for Sen. Mark Pryor, who is facing a tight reelection battle against the "sharply conservative" Tom Cotton. Pryor's "personality matches his politics: He is low-key and averse to big changes," Fahrenthold offered a few paragraphs after uncritically allowing Pryor to insist he's:
Story Continues Below Ad ↓
...not there to represent the president or his party.... [nor] to oppose the president or his party....My job is to represent Arkansas.
Critics may rightly charge that he's there to represent the interests of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who has set himself and the Senate Democrats up as a an obstructionist bloc to oppose any and all conservative pieces of legislation which reach the upper chamber from the House.
Certainly Sen. Pryor's voting record is decidedly far left of center, with the American Conservative Union scoring him a paltry 28 (out of a perfect 100) in 2013. That's a significant notch upward from his 2012 score of 16, but his lifetime average is a puny 19.18. By contrast, the Americans for Democratic Action scored Pryor as 70 percent liberal in 2012. In 2011 and 2010 he scored 75 percent and 65 percent respectively, meaning his voting record became more liberal AFTER the midterm elections in President Obama's first term, hardly the move you'd expect from a Southern centrist who insists he's not an ideological or partisan water carrier.
And yet Fahrenthold closed his article insisting Pryor is incredibly uncomfortable with his party's Senate leadership but that Arkansas Democrats trust him because he's his daddy's son:
In public, Pryor rarely mentions that he’s a Democrat. In private, he is so loath to be identified with his party that he dodged a question about whether — if reelected — he would perform a most basic duty of a Senate Democrat. That would be to support Harry M. Reid (Nev.) to be the majority leader for another term.
“I have not talked to Harry Reid. I don’t know if he’s going to run for leader again,” Pryor said.
Okay, fine, but he’d support some Democrat, right? “Yeah, well. Yeah, maybe,” he said.
Can you really win by being that neutral? If Pryor does, it will because he had help from two important sources.
One is liberal outside groups that have poured money into TV advertising here: $2.27 million already in this campaign cycle (conservative groups have spent more than $4.5 million to help Cotton). For them, the “D” next to Pryor’s name is proof enough that he’s on their side.
The other is the past, and his family’s long history in Arkansas politics. At one recent campaign stop, in Forrest City, Ark., Pryor gave a speech to supporters that barely touched on the fact that he is a Democrat. Afterward, the town’s mayor was asked: How do you know that guy’s really a Democrat at all?
“ ’Cause I knew his daddy,” said Mayor Larry S. Bryant. That was enough.
Of course, David Pryor himself was strongly left of center, retiring from the Senate in 1997 with a lifetime ACU score of 16.
Washington Post political reporters are paid, ostensibly, to cut through the political BS and report accurately and fairly. All too often, however, when it comes to the "I'm not an ideologue" hokum that red-state Democrats peddle, the Posties are far too eager to uncritically accept it.