As I write this, NBC has just projected that Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) has lost the Republican nomination for his own seat to some Tea Party asshole who I can’t be bothered to name. (OK, his name is Richard Mourdock, but you may know him as STPAWICBBTN.) Unlike other GOP veterans who retired before they could be ousted by other STPAWICBBTNs in their own states, Lugar stuck it out; this would have been his seventh term. Sadly, in the next few days, you’ll see many Tea Party-type Republicans slapping each other on the back for a successful RINO (Republican In Name Only) hunt.
Honestly, what more could they ask for in a senator? Aside from being the chamber’s expert on nuclear proliferation and its longest-serving Republican, he has executive experience (mayor of Indianapolis from 1968-1976) and business experience (currently manages a 604-acre family farm and worked in the family food machinery business before entering politics); he was an Eagle Scout; he’s been married for nearly 56 years; and he’s never not been a Republican. There’s only one reason to discount him: He works nicely with Democrats. GASP.
I could take this moment to repeat the same old talking points about how irrelevant that is when your other option is a genuine statesman. Seeing as this is Indiana, home of the centrist Bayhs (the last of whom, former Sen. Evan Bayh [D-IN], could charitably be described as the Democratic Lugar), you’d think they would have continued a strategy that was working perfectly well for them. Lugar lent the party some much-needed credibility and maturity. And his constituents knew it. Until now, apparently.
But STPAWICCBTN? What does he have to offer that every other Tea Party candidate in the country doesn’t? (He is a geologist by trade, which is pretty rare in politics, but so what?) Actually, his biggest offer is to the Indiana Democrats. They may actually run a candidate for that seat this time. And if voters start missing someone like Bayh in the absence of Lugar, that candidate might win.
It’s been proven many times for the past four years that Republicans, more so than Democrats, don’t like candidates who independents and centrists approve of. Perhaps this is because the biggest political fad of that time (the Tea Party) has favored them exclusively. But it will pass. Those same voters will ask where the people they elected have gotten them. Fads fade away, but wisdom and ability are forever.
If the worst thing you can say about Lugar is that he’s been in the Senate for six terms, or that he’s a insufficiently right-wing, he’s a much better member of Congress than most.