Dismissing a silly metric

DISMISSING A SILLY METRIC…. One of the more common rhetorical tricks of the campaign season is going after Democratic House members based on how often they voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For the right, voting with the Speaker necessarily is scandalous, for reasons that don’t make any sense.

But if that’s the metric conservatives want to go with, it leads to some amusing statistical observations.

It’s an attack ad that writes itself: The House Republican leader, Rep. John Boehner (Ohio), votes with liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a majority of the time.

The statistic seems impossible to believe, given the ferocity with which Boehner denounces Pelosi, the progressive champion of San Francisco elitism and favorite GOP villain.

But it’s true, according to an analysis by Democrats. Boehner has voted with the Democratic leadership 52 percent of the time in 2010. So has Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the Republican conference and former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House Republican whip, and Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.), head of the GOP’s House campaign committee, are even cozier with Pelosi. They’ve voted with her 57 percent of the time.

And Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), the conservative firebrand who has compared the Democratic agenda to socialism? She’s with Pelosi on 58 percent of House votes.

Just look at all of those far-right Republicans … serving as a rubber stamp for that awful Speaker.

Of course, in reality, this is all terribly silly. The public generally only hears about major, contested pieces of legislation, but most of Congress’ day-to-day work is mundane, and votes to rename post offices aren’t especially controversial. Bachmann voted Pelosi’s way 58% of the time, but the other 42% were votes on bills that matter.

There’s no weighting, though, based on significance.

It’s what allows a growing number of Dems in “red” districts, many of whom voted with Pelosi most of the time, to also run ads showing that they voted with Boehner and Republicans most of the time.

Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the DCCC, added, “Gosh, I wonder what the Tea Party would think if they knew House Republican leaders vote with Speaker Pelosi most of the time. This analysis just shows how big of a joke the GOP argument against Democrats is.”