Sen. Richard Lugar lost to his primary challenger in a rout yesterday, after serving as one of Indiana's senators since 1976. Over the years he must have served his constituents well to be returned to Washington D.C. so many times, but obviously Indiana Republicans feel it is time for a change. Neither Sen. Lugar nor Imperial Washington is very happy about that today. They get not one bit of sympathy from me.
The general consensus from the inside-the-beltway crowd seems to be that Republicans have gone off the reservation and voted for an actual partisan. I know, that's damned shocking stuff. Who would expect a candidate to actually vote for what his or her party stands for? That's absurd...except for Democrats.
Is it just me or is that partisan label, used as a pejorative, pretty much reserved for Republicans? When was the last time we heard a Democrat being castigated for his or her rigid devotion to the Democratic Party platform? Try as I might, I can't think come up with even once.
I don't know the ins and outs of Indiana politics, but a quick look at Sen. Lugar's churlish prepared statement offers a clue why he(and much of Washington for that matter) doesn't seem to get it:
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.
Unmentionable? That's ridiculous. The only thing unmentionable in Washington about those topics is common sense.
Let's take nuance on climate change. The nuanced position is the one that looks at all of the science and recognizes there is no consensus, there is no real basis for alarm, and that wreaking havoc on our economy for what more and more appears to be a sort of religious fanaticism is profoundly stupid. Try to have an actual discussion about climate change with a believer these days. You will get appeals to authority, ad hominem attacks, and talking points that take on a tone of Holy Scripture.The last thing you'll get is nuance.
What about tax increases? I think modest tax increases to help fix our fiscal meltdown could be put on the table if there was any sense that Congress wouldn't just piss away the money on increased spending. Is there any chance of that happening when pretty much all Democrats and a fair number of Republicans, especially in the US Senate, regard anything less than a 3-5% spending increase every year as cut? Any chance at all?
Forget it. Look at all of the drama it took just to get to the thought of cutting $1.2 trillion over ten years. Even if Obama can double that as he is now promising, what's often left unsaid is that we will still be projected to accumulate another $7 trillion in new debt over that period. Show us a serious attempt to rein in spending first, and then we can talk tax increases.
It's that last bit about "anti-immigration" though, that really shows why Lugar has been shown the door. Republicans are overwhelmingly NOT anti-immigration. They are however, by a very strong majority, anti-illegal immigration. Once again, it's possible that rank and file Republicans would consider a path to citizenship for illegal aliens in the country if Congress and the president get their act together and secure the border first. Until then, they won't support the Dream Act or any other kind of amnesty program. That's not an unreasonable or racist position and it is not "anti-immigrant." I'm pretty sure that Lugar knows all that though, yet he chose to deliberately slander many of his own constituents, his own party, with a lie.
Nice work there, Dick. Keep it up and you just might find yourself not only leaving office, but leaving Indiana on a rail. And you'll deserve it.