Today’s main electoral events: IN & NC
posted at 11:41 am on May 8, 2012 by Karl
With the GOP presidential nomination a near-certainty for Mitt Romney, today’s big elections concern the fates of US Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana and same-sex marriage in North Carolina.
Taking the latter first, Gallup reports 50% of Americans are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage (down marginally from last year’s 53%). However, the latest PPP poll suggests a SSM ban will pass, with only 39% opposing the idea. Although I tend to doubt Obama will win North Carolina in November, he undoubtedly would like to keep it in the mix of battleground states where the GOP has to spend money. Accordingly, while much will be made of the fact that SSM is backed by Democrats and Indies but largely opposed by Republicans, White House flack Jay Carney spent yesterday looking like a Dancing With The Stars contestant regarding Pres. Obama’s stated opposition to SSM.
Turning to the Indiana primary, where recent polling suggests the incumbent Lugar may get knocked off by state treasurer Richard Mourdock, I found the defense of Lugar by Peggy Noonan highly instructive, although not for the reasons she hoped:
What Washington needs is sober and responsible adults. We are as a nation in a moment of real peril, facing challenges that are going to become existential—maybe already are—if we don’t do something about them. We won’t be able to ignore them—an unsound tax system, increasing and highly ideological regulation, an entitlement system whose demands will crush our children—for long. So right now, and more than ever, we need mature folk involved in our governance, people for whom not everything is new. People who know how to do things, who began studying a complicated issue 25 years ago and have kept up, who know it backward and forward. People who know the ways of the chamber backward and forward, and who know how to talk across the aisle. There is value in experience, in accomplishment and expertise. There is value in the ability to take the long view, and do your best with modesty and with an eye toward all the big jumbly categories of America, which are not limited to “rightist” and “leftist.”
The question that argument provokes is: “What exactly has Dick Lugar done about these issues that are possibly already existential?” In explaining the main reasons Lugar may lose, Noonan manages a fairly honest answer:
If Mr. Lugar loses on Tuesday it will likely be due to two things. The first is a number: 35. That’s how many years he’s been in the Senate, how many years he’s lived and worked primarily in the environs of Washington, not Indiana, where apparently he no longer has a home. That was a mistake. Thirty-five is a big number. Nonideological people might look at it and think, “It’s time for a change.”
Please mentally underscore that Lugar apparently no longer has a home in Indiana, because virtually every establishment media account of this primary notes that Mourdock’s campaign is fueled by support from “outside groups.” Dick Lugar has become an “outside Senator,” unlikely to return to Indiana should he lose. I find it difficult to summon big, salty tears over his treatment at the hands of “outside groups.”
The other reason is a fact. What fuels conservative frustration is not only legislation like ObamaCare and scandals like Solyndra, but a growing sense that for 40 years, members of the party have sent Republicans to Washington and Washington—its spending, its regulating, its demands—keeps getting worse, not better. How could this be? It’s not just that Democrats have their Democratic ways, it’s that the Republicans they’ve sent haven’t waged a good enough fight. Everything bad there happened while they were there. So—tear it all down, remove everyone and start over.
This is a hard argument to counter because there is some truth in it. No matter who you send, Washington keeps growing. But Mr. Lugar remains as what he is, exceptional, and in his case there are many factors…
In short, the answer to the question of what Lugar has done about the possibly already extential threats to the nation is: “not much”. Indeed, Noonan praises his bipartisanship, when the go-along, get-along approach has actually fueled these threats. You know who has written eloquently about this problem? Peggy Noonan:
For conservatives on the ground, it has often felt as if Democrats (and moderate Republicans) were always saying, “We should spend a trillion dollars,” and the Republican Party would respond, “No, too costly. How about $700 billion?” Conservatives on the ground are thinking, “How about nothing? How about we don’t spend more money but finally start cutting.”
The second thing is the clock. Here is a great virtue of the tea party: They know what time it is. It’s getting late. If we don’t get the size and cost of government in line now, we won’t be able to. We’re teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn’t “big spending” anymore. It’s ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.
While Lugar deserves credit for his work on issues like nuclear disarmament, he has contributed to the current existential threat and until now displayed no awareness of this. Had he spent more time among Hoosiers, perhaps he would have noticed their discontent. Should he lose today, he will seek solace from his real constituents in the Beltway, who will condemn the excessive partisanship of the Tea Party movement, conveniently forgetting Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) retired in 2010 because the leftwing agenda of a Democratic Congress made getting re-elected too difficult.