Some Thoughts on the Last Indiana Primary

First of all, Senator Richard Lugar does a good job explaining why I didn’t vote for him in his concession speech. Here’s the part I found especially revealing.

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.

This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve. The most consequential of these is stabilizing and reversing the Federal debt in an era when millions of baby boomers are retiring. There is little likelihood that either party will be able to impose their favored budget solutions on the other without some degree of compromise.

This is why Lugar is part of the problem. I do not want my representatives in Washington compromising with bad policies. I want them to fight for Conservative values and policies. It is no good to meet halfway, people who are leading the country off a cliff. I do not want to slow the progress of the US towards Socialism. I want us to change course and go back to limited, constitutional government. Lugar seems to want agreement for the sake of agreement. That won’t work anymore.

Mourdock’s victory is attributed to TEA Party activists and particularly Freedomworks. There is a lot of truth to that but there is more to it. The remarkable tumbling of incumbents all over the country is really the result of more people paying attention to politics and getting involved. The Internet and social media have lowered the barriers of entry, so to speak, and many of the old rules no longer apply. I think that American politics is going to become somewhat more volatile. I don’t think we are likely to see one party in control of Congress for thirty or forty years anymore, nor will either party have some sort of lock on Presidential elections

I hope that this is the end of the idea where a person gets elected to congress and then is automatically elected term after term until he holds that seat by some sort of divine right. It really doesn’t take long for politicians to become acclimated to the Washington culture, and if we can’t have term limits, then we need to pay close attention to what our representatives are actually doing and get rid of them when they get too comfortable.

I see that the mainstream media has wasted no time in portraying Mourdock as an extremist. Here are parts of the editorial in the Louisville Courier Journal.

More likely, though, is that Republicans like Mr. Lugar are becoming an endangered species in the radical, take-no-prisoners direction his party is headed.

No, forget “headed.” It has all but reached its destination of a my-way-or-the-highway road block. It is no coincidence that Mr. Mourdock was backed by what once would have been a triumvirate of the GOP fringe — Palin/Bachmann/Santorum — that’s taking over the party’s landscape.

So, exit Mr. Lugar, who was judged wrong by tea partiers and others on this election cycle’s hot-button issues:

He was pilloried for seeking bipartisan solutions to the nation’s challenges.

He was criticized for supporting the qualified Supreme Court nominees of President Obama — indeed, for not putting enough daylight between himself and the chief executive whose initiatives the GOP has made its mission to stonewall and all but shut down. He was thumped for supporting economic measures that saved the country from falling into the abyss of a depression.

Yes, I want the GOP to stonewall and shut down as much of Obama’s policies as possible. I believe that Obama’s policies, if successful, will do a lot of damage to the country. Why would I want my representatives to help him? This idea that Obama’s stimulus package saved the country from a depression can never be proved, as it is a hypothetical. What we do know is that the President spent a lot of money we don’t have, with no tangible results.

Also overlooked was Mr. Lugar’s longtime record of principled, conservative stewardship. But his steady-as-he-goes style and substance — “A gentle, thoughtful, persuasive, persistent but wise course of action is a winner,” he has said — clearly doesn’t play with a crowd that follows a leader that crows, “The message to the establishment is, ‘You’re our servants. We’re the masters. Do what you’re supposed to do, adhere to the Constitution or we’ll fire you” (Greg Fettig, founder of Hoosiers for Conservative Senate, in

Well, yes. I guess it must seem extreme and radical to the main stream media that our representatives should obey us and not the other way around. That is a concept called democracy. Maybe the editors of the Courier Journal have heard of it.

I think that it is odd that people as far to the left as Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi believe the TEA Party is too extreme. I think that the TEA Party could best be described as center-right. Most TEA Party organizations focus on economic issues and take positions that might be considered as common-sense conservative. They tend to avoid divisive social and culture war issues. The Left favors same-sex marriage, unrestricted taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, a government takeover of whole sectors of the economy, confiscatory taxation, and many other things considered anathema by the majority of the American people. Who are the crazed radicals then?

Mourdock for Senate

Official photo of Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN).
Official photo of Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The editors of the National Review Online have decide to endorse Richard Mourdock in his campaign for Senate against Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary.

One need not support formal term limits to recognize the existence of informal ones, and the tightening polls in the Indiana Senate Republican primary suggest voters there may be starting to think Senator Richard Lugar has been in Washington long enough.

The conventional wisdom has been that the six-term incumbent Lugar is a safer general-election bet than his opponent, state treasurer Richard Mourdock. But the primary has heretofore shown Lugar to be out of touch with Hoosiers, an institutionalized Capitol Hiller who for a spell was ruled ineligible to vote in his own primary after a local board determined he hadn’t owned a home in Indiana in three decades. Though a subsequent ruling allowed Lugar to claim a family farm as a residence, the die is cast. Lugar has become a carpetbagger in his own state.

By contrast, the low-key Mourdock’s mantra has been “capable, competent, and conservative,” a line he used last week after a fine performance in his sole debate with Lugar, and one that could describe our impression of the man after he met with National Review editors recently. Mourdock is popular in Indiana, having won reelection as state treasurer with 63 percent of the vote, and has impressed the grassroots, securing endorsements from a number of Tea Party groups and delivering a strong speech at CPAC. Like so many who have seen the light, Mourdock became a conservative in the age of Reagan; he is a successful oil geologist whose growing interest in thinkers such as Milton Friedman led him to run for Congress and eventually win county and statewide office. As treasurer, Mourdock has shown himself to be both fiscally prudent and possessed of a certain fighting spirit, most prominently when he (unsuccessfully) sued to recover $6 million the state’s pension funds had lost when the Obama administration’s auto bailouts arbitrarily rewrote a century of bankruptcy law.


The debate between Mourdock and Lugar showed that latter still has the reflexes for the kind of homer politics that goes under the name “constituent services”; he assured the audience, for instance, that he is “thinking about corn and soybean prices every day.” But after 36 years in the Senate, Mr. Lugar evinces a political philosophy so subtle that in unfavorable light it scarcely seems to exist at all. Whether it is his limp defense of ethanol subsidies (which Mourdock opposes), his cold praise of the “scholarly” Ryan plan, or his seeming unfamiliarity with his own voting record on Social Security, Lugar cut the figure of a man grown more accustomed to the backslapping of the cloakroom than to the candid back and forth of the town hall. Even on foreign policy, where he is often praised as a statesman, Lugar lacks his opponent’s clarity on the United States’ role in the world. His opposition to the surge in Iraq was poorly thought out and, ultimately, wrong, and he was a champion of the New START treaty, which was a gift to Russia.

Lugar is a decent man who has in the past been more reliable than not on a number of important conservative issues. Arlen Specter he is not. But we can do better. Mr. Mourdock strikes us, for instance, as a man who would not cast votes, as Lugar did, to confirm Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Nor would he co-sponsor the DREAM Act, support the auto bailouts, or oppose the Vitter amendment to limit taxpayer-funded abortion, as Lugar did and does.

For these reasons we support Mr. Mourdock in the Indiana Republican primary. We think he will make a strong candidate and a good United States senator. After Lugar’s long career in Washington, Hoosiers deserve new blood and Lugar deserves a happy retirement and a gold watch. We’d be happy to spring for one.

I am glad to see this. Richard Lugar is a good man and an able public servant and no hint of scandal has ever been associated with him. Indiana should be proud to have had him as our Senator. Still, he is eighty years old and has been in the Senate for thirty-six years. No one can stay in Washington for that long without becoming out of tough with the people back home. It is a continual source of frustration for Conservatives that the people we elect to serve us become steadily more acclimated to the Washington culture and drift leftwards. Lugar is not as bad as many, but I think it is time for him to step down.


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