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Pundits read the Tea Party leaves

Excerpts from commentary on Lugar’s loss in Indiana

- - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard:

"[Sen. Richard G.] Lugar's concession speech was cold and aggressive: '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.'

"Such words, and the insistence on staying in the Senate in his 80s and presumably until his death, suggest that Lugar has truly fallen ill with the worst diseases of Washington: the belief that he is indispensable, the conviction that his own approach is the only decent political formula, and, worst of all, the sad conclusion that only public life offers any comfort, pride and solace. Those who have long admired the senator must wish him a better end than that."

Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review:

"It's easy to underestimate the tea-party achievement in ousting Sen. Lugar. After all, haven't the tea parties knocked off a lot of incumbent Republicans in primaries? Actually, no. Most Tea Party successes have come in races for open seats. In the last Senate cycle, [Arlen] Specter was pushed out of the party before the tea parties even started, because he was unacceptable to a lot of types of Republicans. (Recall that he barely won his primary in 2004.) [Utah Sen. Robert F.] Bennett lost a convention, not a primary. [Alaska Sen. Lisa] Murkowski lost a primary, but came back in the general. Lugar is the first Senate incumbent whose career has come to an end because Tea Partiers beat him in a primary. And he lost while having a reasonably conservative voting record: He had voted with pro-lifers, for example, unlike Specter and Murkowski."

Paul Mirengoff, Powerline:

"Lugar's defeat will trigger the usual hand-wringing about the demise of bipartisanship in Washington and the takeover by Tea Party extremists of the Republican Party. ... But Democrats don't nominate lukewarm liberals senators in blue states, and there's no reason why Republicans should nominate lukewarm conservatives in red states. [Richard] Mourdock will face Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly probably has a better chance of defeating Mourdock than he would have had of defeating Lugar. But Mourdock's prospects are good. Although President Obama won the state in 2008, his approval numbers are well under water (40 percent positive; 52 percent negative), and conservative Dan Coats (90 percent ACU rating in 2011 and lifetime) was easily elected senator in 2010 (55 percent to 40 percent)."

Michelle Malkin:

"Lugar's loss made a little history: Among senators who had served at least six terms, only one had lost in a primary before Lugar: Kenneth Mc-Keller, D-Tenn., who joined the Senate in 1917 and lost to Democratic primary challenger Al Gore Sr. in 1952. And of course Al Gore Sr. was the father of the Goracle, who is the father of the modern global-warming alarmism to which Lugar subscribes. So there's our 'six degrees of separation' for this evening's entrenched incumbent trouncing. Actually, due to global warming, that separation has now risen to seven degrees."

James Antle III, American Spectator:

"Peggy Noonan also stressed family ties when making the case for sending Lugar back to the Senate: 'What Washington needs is sober and responsible adults.' Noonan didn't disclose who the children were in this relationship. But it is the sober and responsible adults who have accumulated a national debt larger than the country's economy. There are two ways to demonstrate one's sobriety and responsibility in Washington: to be as supportive of drunken sailor-style fiscal irresponsibility as possible or to be as timid as possible in opposition to it."

Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit:

"The media is obviously upset and confused with this Tea Party development. But, who cares? This purge is long overdue. Let the red state RINOs be warned."