The Sorrows of Richard Lugar

Again, we’re talking limited access to my sympathy:

All my life, I have believed in the Republican principles of small government, low taxes, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and trade expansion. According to Congressional Quarterly vote studies, I supported President Reagan more often than any other Senator. I want to see a Republican elected President, and I want to see a Republican majority in the Congress. I hope my opponent wins in November to help give my friend Mitch McConnell a majority.

If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

The moaning over the loss of cordial bipartisanship extends, of course, to “both parties:”

I don’t remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements.

God, last night was ridiculous. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Lugar was in fact a grown-up. One of my very favorite political moments of all time was watching him read the Constitution to that hairdo Norm Coleman when Coleman couldn’t wrap his brain around the concept of advice and consent during the Bolton confirmation hearings.

My boyfriend John Kerry was distraught, according to one of thestatements his staff sends me to make sure my eye doesn’t wander to some other Democrat:

Dick’s Nunn-Lugar efforts have become almost shorthand for bi-partisanship in foreign policy, and they should be recognized. But for me, on a personal level, two other efforts stand out as epitomizing who Dick is and why he’ll be missed. For me, it started with the work we did together in the 1980’s to help bring about free and fair elections in the Philippines. I was just a freshman senator, but I was lucky to get to know Dick Lugar as a dignified, thoughtful and capable public servant who even then was becoming an institution within this institution. He was serious, he was fair-minded, and I saw firsthand during our trip to the Philippines that he had a very personal and special understanding of what the United States means to the rest of the world. That cause animated a Hoosier who was a reserved and humble public person, but who proudly recounted for President Reagan the difference the United States made in giving voice to the Filipino peoples’ democratic aspirations. I saw that same commitment in Dick Lugar many times over the years but never more so than in the long, tough, and patient process required when we worked together on the New START Treaty two years ago. His wisdom and his patience was invaluable in laying out the case and particularly in building Republican support and finding the path to those 71 votes.

But let’s not get dramatic, here. Richard Lugar is not going to be physically wounded by what happened to him last night. He’s not going to miss a meal, either; the over-under on him fetching up at some think tank or commentary outlet or other is about two days. Would that we could say the same for those subject to the “entitlement cuts” about which Lugar wishes Democrats would be less doctrinaire.

He undoubtedly would be a better Republican in the Senate than this Mourdock creep, but wasn’t willing to make the argument that would have won him votes, choosing instead to go out like a petulant asshole confusing stubbornness with principle:

I’m not sure why Lugar took this guy seriously in the first place, and I really don’t understand how a guy who’s been in the Senate since Cicero was Chairman of the Armed Services Committee couldn’t have him crushed at the local level, before it got to those unfortunate campaign ads. (Speaking of which, Mitch Daniels may be about as honest as he is power forward material, but his commercials have certainly been effective. Until he made some for Lugar, anyway. Lugar’s staff didn’t have the phone number?) He ran in fear of being calledmoderate. So now the national punditasters are bemoaning howThere’s no room in the Republican party for Dick Lugar anymore. Well, fuck. If you listen to his campaign ads he’s just slightly to the left of Jim DeMint. In fact their voting records are really all that different.

Why didn’t Lugar just come out and tell the truth? Why in the world do you even care to keep a job where you can’t? The Congress can’t get anything done. Replacing Lugar with a Teabagger isn’t going to change many votes, it’s just going to give you a Senator with no influence, to match the other one. Why not say so?

I don’t think the problem is there’s suddenly no room for a “moderate” Republican. I think the problem is that for the last thirty years, anyone who might’ve qualified has been too afraid of his own electorate to open his mouth.

This is not a problem confined to Dick Lugar. Watching this ongoing GOP crackup would be fun if these people didn’t, you know, have a House majority, because it’s so predictable and sad. You fear your base, you cower before them, you let them run the show for two years, and then you wake up in half a wet suit and sombrero next to an inflatable sheep and some girl who has “MEOW” tattooed on her inner thigh, your ears ringing and a vague memory of serenading a police horse with “Freak-a-Leek.”

You deserve to feel like that and no, I’m not giving you any aspirin or orange juice. Do your walk of shame like a man, and do us all the very great favor of laying off the President’s Choice tequila next weekend, okay? The next time someone tells you something might be a very bad idea, LISTEN.


4 thoughts on “The Sorrows of Richard Lugar

  1. This is the commentary I came here to read. So hard to wade through Villager garment-rendings to get a few facts. Athenae, as usual, you must marry me.

  2. She was dead when I woke up with her.
    But to be fair, the Democrats are just as scared of the GOP base, and will also do anything they can to placate them.

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