Congress.org’s latest “Power Rankings” are out. Remember these from a few months ago, when Ben Nelson complained about his relatively low rating of 88th out of 100 Senators?
Well, Ol’ Ben has topped even THAT performance. Nelson is now ranked 96th out of 100 (that’ll be the fifth LEAST effective in the entire U.S. Senate).
Note some other Democrat Senators also elected in 2000 – Hillary Clinton, Bill Nelson, Frank Lautenberg and Debbie Stabenow — are all ranked ahead of him. Democrats Barrack Obama and Ken Salazar, both elected two years later in 2004, are ranked ahead of Ben Nelson as well.
And let’s look at a couple of Republicans. Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel, elected just two years before Nelson, is ranked at number 48. Of course, Hagel has had very public fights with those in his party, so it’s not unusual that his power would wan thusly.
But let’s look at another comparable Republican: Lincoln Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island. Chafee is known as Ben Nelson’s mirror opposite – a Republican in a liberal state, as opposed to Nelson’s Democrat in a conservative state. Chafee often votes with the Dems, like Nelson votes with the GOP. And look at the Power Ranking of Chafee, elected in same year as Nelson: 95th, just one spot above Nelson.
So we here at Leavenworth Street argue the point that all this talk about being “Independent” of one’s party is a big giant albatross around your neck when you actually want to get things done. Think it’s any coincidence that Ben Nelson has a dreadful record of passing any significant bills in the Senate?
When you straddle the fence, and play both sides, the effect is that no one trusts you. The Senators in your own party know you’ll stab ‘em in the back at a moment’s notice, and the ones on the other side of the aisle see the (D) behind your name, and feel the same.
Ben Nelson has put himself on an island in the U.S. Senate (he and Lincoln Chafee can share coconuts) and it is Nebraska that ends up being lost.