Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where Do You Rank on the Schumer Scale?

Is this guy an out-of-control megalomaniac or what?
Are you smarter than a senator?

You'll need to be able to match wonky wits with New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, if you want to work for him, passing a political brain-teaser that's become one of the most famous interviews in New York politics.

Schumer examines the political IQ of job candidates by asking them to rank members of Congress, including himself, on a 1-to-100 continuum -- with 1 representing an arch-conservative and 100 an ultra-liberal.

For Schumer, it's not a matter of opinion: There are right and wrong scores for his fellow lawmakers, he insists.

Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in 2002, defines the liberal end of the spectrum, at 100. The late Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina is at the opposite end of the scale, with a 1.

The senator usually opens with an easy one -- "Where does Olympia Snowe rank?" he'll ask about the moderate Republican from Maine.

Answer: Snowe gets a raw score of 50.

It's in between, however, that Schumer puts the political savvy of potential staffers to the test.

"Where do you put Ted Kennedy?" he often asks.

The correct answer for the late iconic Massachusetts lawmaker is a 90.

"What about Mitch McConnell?" he asks, looking for an answer that gives a raw score of 20 for Kentucky's Republican senator.

Schumer's former Senate colleague Hillary Rodham Clinton rates an 80 -- exactly five points to his left. Schumer gives himself a 75.

"He wants to be seen as the middle of his party," said a former Schumer staffer who recalls watching Schumer give the test as far back as 1998, when he was first elected to the Senate.

"It's very important that staffers understand that Clinton, in his mind, lies to his left on the liberal continuum," said the former staffer.
I'd rank Schumer as a 100 on the Schmuck Scale.

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