AP Bemoans Retirement of 'Centrist' Ben Nelson, Who Voted for ObamaCare and Stimulus

December 28th, 2011 2:27 PM

In an item which still has a breaking news tag, Josh Funk at the Associated Press (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes) call retiring Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson a "centrist," and almost seemed to mourn over "an increasingly polarizing climate" which made it clear that Nelson's reelection would have been a steep uphill fight. Of course, there was no mention of the infamous Cornhusker kickback which was offered and then withdrawn in a firestorm of controversy in an Obama administration attempt to win Nelson's support for the passage of ObamaCare -- which they got anyway.

Here are several paragraphs from Funk's report and the immediately following breaking news item:

Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson says he decided to leave the U.S. Senate after 2012 because he wants more free time, not because he's retiring.

... The 70-year-old centrist Democrat and former governor announced his decision not to seek another term Tuesday. His departure is expected to make it easier for Republicans to win the only seat in Nebraska's congressional delegation that hasn't already gone to the GOP.

... He says he's also confident he could have won himself, saying his poll numbers have improved despite being hammered by conservatives for supporting the federal health care overhaul.

... Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson survived nearly two decades representing heavily Republican Nebraska by carving a path down the political center. But faced with navigating that road in an increasingly polarizing climate, Nelson is stepping away - and swinging the door wide open for the GOP.

Nelson, the lone Democrat in Nebraska's five-member congressional delegation, announced Tuesday that he wouldn't seek a third term. He was facing a tough campaign against several Republicans who've spent the past several months attacking his support for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and federal stimulus legislation.

"Who can blame him given the current political mood of the country?" said former state Democratic Party Chairman Steve Achelpohl.

... Democrats banking on Nelson's ability to leverage those centrist stances and capture statewide races were left scrambling, and many state activists acknowledged being taken by surprise.

One suspects that more than a few people are upset about the timing of Nelson's announcement, given that he continued to press hard for campaign contributions this year while his party spent heavily in the Cornhusker State in an attempt to shore up Nelson's image.

As for Nelson's "centrism," here are his grades from the Club for Growth during the past six available years:

The arc of Nelson's Club for Growth voting record gives away his opportunistic economic liberalism.

Once Democrats achieved a majority in the Senate after the 2006 elections, Nelson went far-left, scoring only one point above the late Ted Kennedy in 2007 and below many known lefties, including Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow, and Bernie Sanders in 2008. His "improvement" in 2009, when he voted for the stimulus plan, and 2010, when he voted for ObamaCare, was clearly intended to mask Nelson's inner leftist.

Fortunately, Nebraskans finally saw through the clever facade, even as Funk at the Associated Press bitterly clings to Nelson's claim to be a moderate. Centrist, schmentrist.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.