Labels like "conservative" and "liberal" provide a shorthand for understanding political positions. So does "bipartisan," conferring an air of grownup responsibility — someone who won’t throw flames. A new TV ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC working to elect Republicans, says that GOP Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey was "rated among the most bipartisan in Congress."
The ad seeks to draw a contrast with Lance’s Democratic challenger, Tom Malinowski, a former State Department official for human rights in President Barack Obama’s administration. Although there’s certainly some flame-throwing in this very ad, casting Malinowski as fiercely liberal and Lance as the adult in the room, it raised a good question: Is Lance really that bipartisan?
To understand the answer, understand first that labels comes with certain conditions. Here’s how Lance got that label.