Wednesday, 09 May 2012

RICHARD LUGAR'S UNGRACIOUS EXIT

Ken Berwitz

Yesterday, after six terms as a very popular senator, Richard Lugar lost the Republican Primary to Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock by a landslide of 61% - 39%. 

He could have gone out graciously, or in a bitter, ungracious snit. Sadly, Mr. Lugar chose the latter.

Here is an excerpt from Senator Lugar's prepared statement:

I would like to comment on the Senate race just concluded and the direction of American politics and the Republican Party.   

The truth is that the headwinds in this race were abundantly apparent long before Richard Mourdock announced his candidacy.  One does not highlight such headwinds publically when one is waging a campaign.  But I knew that I would face an extremely strong anti-incumbent mood following a recession.  I knew that my work with then-Senator Barack Obama would be used against me, even if our relationship were overhyped.  I also knew from the races in 2010 that I was a likely target of Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other Super Pacs dedicated to defeating at least one Republican as a purification exercise to enhance their influence over other Republican legislators.

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.  

Essentially, Senator Lugar is saying that he supports Mourdock because he is a Republican, even though he also is a doctrinaire right wing jerk and a half.  That is not a gracious way to go out, and it makes a pretty big man look very small.  I hope for Mr. Lugar's sake that he already regrets doing so.

Elsewhere in the letter, Lugar defends his votes on a number of major issues when he sided with Democrats.  Personally, I assume he did so out of good conscience and very much respect those votes.  But - basic common sense here - he had to have known that the more times he crossed the aisle, the less appealing he would be to the party faithful - especially in a time when there are almost no Democrats doing the same.

One other point of note:  Mr. Lugar seems to make it 100% clear that he will not run as an independent:

From time to time during the last two years I heard from well-meaning individuals who suggested that I ought to consider running as an independent.  My response was always the same: I am a Republican now and always have been.  I have no desire to run as anything else.

That statement makes me about 75% sure that he means it.  Richard Mourdock better hope the other 25% doesn't come in....

Zeke .... You got it, DIckie Boy --- You were defeated because your positions stink. .... ... The voters are against you. ..... And, you seem to grasp that. ..... The electorate went for a candidate who reflects their views. ...... ...... Glad you so clearly recognize that. ..... ..... (05/09/12)


OBAMA ON GAY MARRIAGE: PRESTO CHANGE-O

Ken Berwitz

Well, we have our answer to where President Obama stands on same sex marriage.  Sort of.

President Obama has come out in favor - though, I suspect, in a way that may not satisfy gay people.

To see the key swatch of his interview with Robin Roberts, which will air in part on ABC's World News Tonight and, more fully, on ABC's Good Morning America show tomorrow, please click here.

Would you be happy with that statement if you were against gay marriage?  No you would not.
 
Would you be happy with that statement if you were supported gay marriage?  Maybe you would.  Except.......
 
......according to according to ABC's Rick Klein, "The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own".  
 
That artful little twist leaves the door open for Mr. Obama to fully accept anti-gay marriage votes such as the one in North Carolina yesterday.  In other words, President Obama is trying to have his cake and eat it too. 
 
It remains to be seen how proponents of gay marriage will react to this posture.  I truly do not have any sense of where they will wind up, and will be more than a little interested in watching it unfold.
 
And we still don't know if Mr. Obama will come out in favor of moving the Democrats' national convention out of Charlotte, North Carolina .  That, I strongly suspect, will be seen as a litmus test of his seriousness on the gay marriage issue. If Obama says Charlotte is still okey-dokey with him, will gay people believe he sincerely supports their marital rights?  Can they believe it?
 
Keep your eye on this one.  I doubt we'll have to wait very long to find out where it moves.


WEST VIRGINIA & THE FLIGHT OF THE BLUE COLLAR DEMOCRAT

Ken Berwitz

I hope President Obama is not counting on West Virginia this year.

Not only have Senator Manchin and Governor Tomblin declined to endorse Mr. Obama so far, but -this is for real, folks.  So help me -a convicted felon, currently serving time in a West Virginia prison, decided to run against him in the primary, and got over 40% of the vote.!!

Keith Russell Judd, a native Californian, serving a 17.5 year term in Beaumont Federal Correctional Institute - yes, that is in Beaumont, Texas - somehow got his name on the West Virginia ballot.  And he walked away (well, maybe he was led away) with 41% of the Democrat primary vote to Barack Obama's 59%.

It is hard to see how that result could be more embarrassing for Mr. Obama.  And even harder to see how Mr. Obama is going to win West Virginia this year. 

But it is very easy to see how the same reasons blue collar Democrats turned away from Mr. Obama in enough numbers for this to have happened in West Virginia, might turn away from him in other states as well.  Think, for example, about the coal mining areas of western Pennsylvania:  I assure you the Obama campaign is.  And that is far from the only place it could happen.

Put another way, anyone who thinks Barack Obama is going to sail into a second term had better think again.

One other thing:  there is no truth to the rumor that the President saw Judd's prisoner number, 11593-051, and said "Wow, can I use that as my next social security number?" 


GAY MARRIAGE AND THE DEMOCRATS' NATIONAL CONVENTION

Ken Berwitz

Barack, we have a problem.

The good news for Democrats is that their national convention is to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is a beautiful town with great historic significance (the civil war started there with the firing on Fort Sumter) and loads of trachelospermum jasminoides (known to peasants like me as star jasmine) to keep things smelling sweet.

But the bad news for Democrats is that, yesterday, North Carolina overwhelmingly passed Amendment 1, which specifically defines marriage as one man-one woman, and bans both gay marriages and gay civil unions as well.  The final vote was 61% - 39%. 

And since most support for gay marriage resides within the Democrat Party, holding its convention in North Carolina is a potential disaster and a half. 

How bad might this be?  Here's a hint:  The activist group, Gay Marriage USA, immediately started a petition to move the convention to another location.  And in a matter of hours - before most people probably even knew the petition existed - it got over 15,000 signees.

But as bad as it is for Democrats in general,  it is even worse for President Obama in particular. 

Despite the fact that Mr. Obama is currently on record as being against gay marriage, gay groups have largely given him a free pass - presumably because they believe he took this position purely for political reasons and doesn't really feel that way.

Well, now he cannot duck the issue anymore.  He has to go on record as either being, or not being, okay with the convention taking place in Charlotte.

-What if he says it is ok?  He will enrage the gay community, most of whom tend to vote Democrat, along with many leftward groups which already have a problem with what they perceive as his lack of dedication to their agenda. 

-What if he says the convention must be moved?  The gay community will be placated, but he can kiss North Carolina goodbye - and probably lose his chance at a couple of other southern states as well - very much including Florida (think about how a pro-gay marriage stand would play in, for example, the panhandle).

As you can see, either way this is a nightmare - which, of course, is why the President has tried, however clumsily, to stay on the fence regarding gay marriage.

But that is no longer the case.  North Carolina's vote has forced his hand.  And the decision he makes could literally decide this eletion.

I don't know about you,  but I can't wait to find out what it is.


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