May 9, 2012

Red State Thrashing

MAY 9, 2012 4:12PM


Photo from Richard Lugar's web site.
Yesterday Senator Richard Lugar got what we Hoosiers call an "ass-whooping." Indiana’s long-term senior Senator was soundly beaten by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock on Tuesday, in a contest that delivered national attention to the normally quiet Hoosier May primary.
Polls showed Mourdock ahead by ten points, and the tea-party backed candidate delivered a margin of victory closer to thirty points
"USA Today" reported that "Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his re-election bid in the state's Republican primary Tuesday, ending the 36-year career of a GOP elder statesman and handing the Tea Party movement its biggest upset victory so far in the 2012 elections. Lugar was ousted by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, whose campaign against the veteran lawmaker was backed by conservative groups including the Tea Party Express, the anti-tax Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association, the Tea Party-aligned Freedom Works, and former Republican Alaska governor Sarah Palin."
Senator Lugar has been in office since I was in college, and his second son lived in my husband’s dormitory. He spoke at my college graduation and I’ve voted for him except when we lived out of state. While I did not agree with everything he believed, I appreciated his willingness to work with folks on the other side of the aisle.
Yesterday I did something that made me want to take a hot shower, and we’ll put it under the category of “The Devil You Know.” I didn’t play for my team yesterday; I crossed over and pushed the red button. It was much more difficult this time.
This decision wasn’t easy for me, and frankly one-half of our household completely disagreed with my strategy and made a different choice. This is America and we each get to choose for whom we vote. But I know that many friends farther to the left of this centrist did the same thing.
Why? Because we’re afraid the Mourdock will win. I won't go into the typical and obvious reasons, but look at just one interview he gave this morning, a refrain of the same song he's been singing all along.
Mourdock derides bi-partisanship. I’m not sure he went to civics class in junior high because when I heard him interviewed this morning (and I’m paraphrasing here), he said that “If the Presidency and Congress are all Republican, it will be our job to get people to see the conservative way.” This is now how I understand the system.
And this has been the problem, because even Indiana’s fair-haired boy Lugar moved to the right to keep his seat.
While right-wing news sites were running pictures of Lugar and Obama yesterday and one had a headline something like “Lugar’s loss is Obama’s loss,” Lugar’s television advertisements put as much daylight between our Democratic President and our Republican Senator as possible. Lugar’s commercials were ugly, and that made my decision harder.
Lugar, 80, is now out of politics. He says he won’t run as an independent and he couldn’t win anyway.
When I asked my Republican friends here (and this is Indiana, so most everyone is Republican), they say they "it was time for Lugar to go." I was also surprised how many people fixated on Senator Lugar not living in Indiana. (Senator Evan Bayh lived in DC Northwest for most of his tenure, often jogging through American University where my son went to college.)
My Democratic friends and I will focus on the blue candidate in November, Rep. Joe Donnelly. He believes legislating is about the art of compromise.
Mourdock’s take on how the Senate works reminds me of a small child who wants a piece of candy and when he does not get it, he pouts and leaves the room.
Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” If Mourdock, who is a long-term respected business person from my area, would remember that compromise is a factor in basic, successful human interaction, he might get somewhere. But I hope not.