May 9th, 2012

Lugar and the press

Richard Mourdock primaried and yesterday ousted six-term Republican senator Dick Lugar in Indiana, and the MSM is very upset. As Michael Brendan Dougherty of Business Insider succinctly points out:

The only time the press weeps at the loss of a Republican Senator is when he is replaced with a more conservative one.

Bingo. Lugar was the MSM’s kind of Republican, and I say this even though I’m hardly against RINOs in principle—in liberal states, that is, as I’ve written many times on this blog. But reading Lugar’s paeans to a bipartisanship that at this point exists only in his own mind, and is unilateral at that, is sad. The man isn’t just a RINO, he’s a dino—unfortunately, because I happen to agree with sentiments such as the following, at least in principle (in practice they have gone the way of the dodo):

Legislators should have an ideological grounding and strong beliefs identifiable to their constituents. I believe I have offered that throughout my career. But ideology cannot be a substitute for a determination to think for yourself, for a willingness to study an issue objectively, and for the fortitude to sometimes disagree with your party or even your constituents. Like Edmund Burke, I believe leaders owe the people they represent their best judgment.

Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting. Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times.

It seems these days that the Democrats’ specialty is to be highly partisan and uncompromising, and to pretend it’s only Republicans who are that way. The press, of course, co-operates in trying to foster that notion. Witness “Lugar’s Demise and the Constitutional Crisis” by Jonathan Chait, which castigates those partisan, monolithic Republicans and pretends the Democrats are a moderate, compromising group:

Incumbent senators used to have almost no fear that they might be deposed by members of their own party for ideological or partisan deviations, and now that threat has become the most powerful disciplinary tool available to activists. And it’s a tool, moreover, that is being deployed asymmetrically – the homogeneously conservative Republican Party has winnowed out virtually all its moderates, while the Democratic Party remains a looser coalition of moderates and liberals.

Like, for example, Joe Lieberman.

And then there’s the little matter of judicial appointments. Lugar voted to confirm both Kagan and Sotomayor, one of the reasons conservatives turned against him. Chait rails on and on about how the nasty partisan Republicans have blocked Obama’s perfectly reasonable judicial appointments, but I wonder what Chait had to say about this when it was happening:

Soon after the inauguration of Bush as president in January 2001, many liberal academics became worried that he would begin packing the federal judiciary with conservative jurists. Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman wrote an article in the February 2001 edition of the liberal magazine The American Prospect that encouraged the use of the filibuster to stop Bush from placing any nominee on the Supreme Court during his first term. In addition, law professors Cass Sunstein (University of Chicago) and Laurence Tribe (Harvard), along with Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center, counseled Senate Democrats in April 2001 “to scrutinize judicial nominees more closely than ever.” Specifically, they said, “there was no obligation to confirm someone just because they are scholarly or erudite.”

On May 9, 2001, President Bush announced his first eleven court of appeals nominees in a special White House ceremony. This initial group of nominees included Roger Gregory, a Clinton recess-appointed judge to the fourth circuit, as a peace offering to Senate Democrats. There was, however, immediate concern expressed by Senate Democrats and liberal groups like the Alliance for Justice. Democratic Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York said that the White House was “trying to create the most ideological bench in the history of the nation.”

As a result, from June 2001 to January 2003, when the Senate in the 107th Congress was controlled by the Democrats, many conservative appellate nominees were stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee and never given hearings or committee votes.

The pretense that Republicans have a monopoly on partisanship is, quite simply, propagandist poppycock.

Lugar is also 80 years old, which might have had something to do with his defeat, because challenger Mourdock (a name that unfortunately reminds me of both “warlock” and H.G. Wells’ Morlocks), although no spring chicken at sixty, is considerably younger than Lugar.

Will Mourdock win Indiana’s senate seat against Democratic challenger Joe Donnelly? The consensus of opinion is “probably,” although I think it’s way too soon to tell. If so, though, Indiana Republicans saw an opportunity to get a younger, more conservative senator in office, and they understandably seized it.

7 Responses to “Lugar and the press”

  1. Libby Says:

    I’m sure Zell Miller could also provide some insight on how tolerant Dems can be.

    Shorter Chait: Bad voters! Once you elect someone you can never, ever remove them, even if they’ve “evolved” away from the positions that got them elected.

  2. Gringo Says:


    Witness “Lugar’s Demise and the Constitutional Crisis” by Jonathan Chait, which castigates those partisan, monolithic Republicans and pretends the Democrats are a moderate, compromising group..

    Jonathan Chait is undoubtedly the poster boy for moderate, compromising Democrats. After all, he wrote I hate President George W. Bush, and proceeded to enumerate the numerous reasons for his hating Dubya. That is the very definition of a moderate, compromising Democrat. 🙂

    Neo nailed it:
    It seems these days that the Democrats’ specialty is to be highly partisan and uncompromising, and to pretend it’s only Republicans who are that way.

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    The fact that Lugar did not even bother to have an address in Indiana says it all.

  4. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    If you are trying to decide whether to build either a NASCAR track or a soccer stadium with all your money and on the single piece of property you have, what could compromise even look like?

  5. Randy Says:

    Compromise is making concessions in exchange for concessions. When RINOs compromise, they make concessions, not for things which conservatives want, but for the concession of not being called names by the left.

    This explains why GOP electoral successes never result in conservative policy wins.

    RINOs need to learn that conservatives have long memories (naturally).

  6. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Again, forgetting the source, Lugar was described as epitomizing the kind of republican who, when the dems want to spend a trillion, says, “That’s too much, let’s spend 700 billion,” and then compromises at a trillion

  7. Exurban Says:

    Yes, 80 years old and at that he’s only the fourth oldest U.S. Senator.

    List of current United States Senators by age

    Not many democracies elect politicians this old. It doesn’t say much for the quality of the Senate.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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