Republican moderates no longer a dying breed — they are dead

Republican moderates are no longer a dying breed. With Tuesday’s defeat of Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, they are dead.

Known as Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor when he ran Indianapolis back in the 1970s, this rock-solid Republican is no longer Republican enough. As defined by the Tea Party, Lugar was “Obama’s favorite senator,” a reference to Lugar’s welcome to the newbie from Illinois in 2005. Of course, Lugar voted against most of his “friend’s” agenda, including against President Barack Obama’s health-care law, but never mind.

In the Tea Party’s Republican Party, it is no longer enough to vote conservatively. You must have the demeanor of a zealot.

The man who defeated Lugar, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, is purity itself. Not for him to dignify a Democrat by talking to him. He loves the “broken” version of Congress: ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, unmoved by facts or evidence, dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. Mourdock is not one to let cooperation darken his door. “I feel more frustrated with Republicans than Democrats,” he says. “It is not bipartisanship we need. It is principle.”

The Lugar-Mourdock race was the Tea Party’s marquee contest this cycle, the one that promised annihilation of an infidel. The Tea Party hoped to mount a challenge to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s re-election bid, but its favored candidate chose not to run and Hatch moved sharply right. Going after Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine would have been satisfying, but she decided to retire.

That left only a Republican icon from the heartland. Many of Lugar’s accomplishments required some element of that hated principle, bipartisanship. The Tea Party worked to make everything good he did look bad…

More than Lugar’s votes, there is his mild manner. Even when behaving as the Tea Party requires, Lugar did it without the requisite bombast and disdain for the other side…

…Famously frugal, Lugar stopped keeping a residence in his home state, sleeping at a hotel on trips home. He counted the family farm as his residence and didn’t bill the government for trips there…

Mocking, exaggerated, courting confrontation — Mourdock is what Republicans long for…

The language of bigotry, the ideology of hatred, foolishness as sectarian as every year’s apostle of doom predicting the end of life on Earth…these are the characteristics accepted as requisite by the Kool Aid Party – and, now, what they have kludged into the defining qualities of the GOP.

The sophisticates of the Republican Party look down their Brahmin noses upon the Tea Party types as they did on George Wallace and the John Birch Society nutballs who infested that party back in Goldwater days. And I think they’re willing to accept the same Goldwater level of defeat as an opportunity to reform the party more in the mold of Nixon and George the Elder.

Perhaps not. But, I think the Wall Street crowd, the Oil Patch Boys are too used to power and control to want to spend the time building a new traditional Republican Party. They’re willing to take a bye for four years and dribble the Tea Party leftovers out the exhaust pipe of history after this election – or the next.

4 thoughts on “Republican moderates no longer a dying breed — they are dead

  1. moss says:

    I think the Oil Patch thugs are perfectly willing to embrace the Tea Party thugs. They bankroll them – and expect obedience in return. There’s hardly anything the populist ignorant love more than fossil fuel.

  2. David says:

    I feel that this country is heading towards its second civil war. Except this time the Tea Baggers/GOP against the half of this country is not insane or bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.

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