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Bernadine Spitzsnogel

Bernadine Spitzsnogel
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All material on "The Raven Lunatic" blog is copyrighted by the author. Author of "The Luxury of Daydreams"--available on amazon and all major book sites.

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Salon.com
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MAY 9, 2012 4:12PM

Red State Thrashing

Rate: 21 Flag

Photo from Richard Lugar's web site.

Yesterday Senator Richard Lugar got what we Hoosiers call an "ass-whooping." Indiana’s long-term senior Senator was soundly beaten by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock on Tuesday, in a contest that delivered national attention to the normally quiet Hoosier May primary.

Polls showed Mourdock ahead by ten points, and the tea-party backed candidate delivered a margin of victory closer to thirty points

"USA Today" reported that "Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his re-election bid in the state's Republican primary Tuesday, ending the 36-year career of a GOP elder statesman and handing the Tea Party movement its biggest upset victory so far in the 2012 elections. Lugar was ousted by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, whose campaign against the veteran lawmaker was backed by conservative groups including the Tea Party Express, the anti-tax Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association, the Tea Party-aligned Freedom Works, and former Republican Alaska governor Sarah Palin."

Senator Lugar has been in office since I was in college, and his second son lived in my husband’s dormitory. He spoke at my college graduation and I’ve voted for him except when we lived out of state. While I did not agree with everything he believed, I appreciated his willingness to work with folks on the other side of the aisle. 

Yesterday I did something that made me want to take a hot shower, and we’ll put it under the category of “The Devil You Know.”  I didn’t play for my team yesterday; I crossed over and pushed the red button. It was much more difficult this time.

This decision wasn’t easy for me, and frankly one-half of our household completely disagreed with my strategy and made a different choice. This is America and we each get to choose for whom we vote. But I know that many friends farther to the left of this centrist did the same thing.

Why?  Because we’re afraid the Mourdock will win. I won't go into the typical and obvious reasons, but look at just one interview he gave this morning, a refrain of the same song he's been singing all along.

Mourdock derides bi-partisanship. I’m not sure he went to civics class in junior high because when I heard him interviewed this morning (and I’m paraphrasing here), he said that “If the Presidency and Congress are all Republican, it will be our job to get people to see the conservative way.”  This is now how I understand the system.

And this has been the problem, because even Indiana’s fair-haired boy Lugar moved to the right to keep his seat.

While right-wing news sites were running pictures of Lugar and Obama yesterday and one had a headline something like “Lugar’s loss is Obama’s loss,” Lugar’s television advertisements put as much daylight between our Democratic President and our Republican Senator as possible.  Lugar’s commercials were ugly, and that made my decision harder.

Lugar, 80, is now out of politics. He says he won’t run as an independent and he couldn’t win anyway.

When I asked my Republican friends here (and this is Indiana, so most everyone is Republican), they say they "it was time for Lugar to go."  I was also surprised how many people fixated on Senator Lugar not living in Indiana.  (Senator Evan Bayh lived in DC Northwest for most of his tenure, often jogging through American University where my son went to college.)

My Democratic friends and I will focus on the blue candidate in November, Rep. Joe Donnelly. He believes legislating is about the art of compromise.

Mourdock’s take on how the Senate works reminds me of a small child who wants a piece of candy and when he does not get it, he pouts and leaves the room.

Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” If Mourdock, who is a long-term respected business person from my area, would remember that compromise is a factor in basic, successful human interaction, he might get somewhere. But I hope not.

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Comments

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You made the right decision. R.
Glad he's gone but what I don't get is that the state is poor as sin yet they keep voting for the Sin they're in! Jeesh-ka-boobs!
I'da done it, too, Amy.
The thing is, and this is just my opinion, nobody on either side is interested in comprimise. There is a prevaling attitude of "It's my way or the highway."
You did the right thing. I'm with David Axelrod on this one, that this loss now represents an opportunity for Democrats but it is tough to lose a leader like Lugar.
I watched the CNN interview with Mourdock this morning and it was frightening. The only positive thing I would say is that he certainly doesn't hide his agenda. His margin of victory scares me, as does the coming election. You've got your work cut out for you.
I find this a very sad turn of events. The old lions like Lugar knew how to compromise and knew it was necessary to do so. That you crossed over this time doesn't surprise me at all, for you are a thinking person.

Lezlie
This will be an interesting general election for you in Indiana. It almost sounds like it could be a "For Compromise" vs "Against Compromise" campaign. We know how the GOP feel about it but what do independents think? It's been my impression that overall independents just want a functioning government and that means having representatives that will work together.

If Donnelly can win by a decent margin then that will send a tiddy lil' message to those who feel there is no place for bi-partisanship.
What the he-- kinda person votes for a guy called Mourdock? He sounds like a villain in a Harry Potter book!
Love your Indiana perspective. I also have always respected Lugar for his bipartisan efforts. He graduated from Denison University (in Ohio) and has a program named after him. The Richard C. Lugar Program in Politics and Public Service. Our youngest went to Denison and heard him speak there. It saddens me to see what is happening with politics. You make some very strong points here and give us some great insider information about the state of Indiana. Congrats on the EP. Well-deserved. R
From the outside looking in, my other reading on this indicates that Senator Lugar at eighty years old ran a truly inept, pathetic campaign . . . well, obviously, somebody else ran it. In any event your report seems to confirm this.

Nonetheless, Senator Lugar has been a man of great accomplishment. The people of your state need not be ashamed of his tenure.
I applaud your rock and a hard place decision and your honesty here. I have crossed over a few times myself, but that was long ago when compromise was not a dirty word.
Good luck. I'm in another state, Florida with horrible pols like Alan West and Governor Rick Scott. I will be working hard too. But let's hope people can get their act together and be rational about choosing reps.
A few years ago, Indiana's senators were a moderate Democrat (Evan Bayh) and a moderate Republican (Lugar). Now both are out of office, and both of their comments - Bayh when he announced his retirement and Lugar's after the primary - were sharp criticisms of the partisan atmosphere that has taken over American politics. I may not have seen eye-to-eye with them on everything, but I respected that they were both willing to reach across the aisle for compromise. Sadly, those days are now far in our rear-view window. Expect things to keep getting worse.
I agree, you did the right thing.
Given that our other senator, Coats, was elected while not living here I find that excuse against Lugar to be entirely hypocritical. Everyone I talked to wanted Lugar so his loss did surprise me.

November is going to be interesting, especially since Obama finally openly supports gay marriages. I don't look for any legislation on that, though, until the second Wednesday in November.
A small half cheer for Mourdock being unashamed of his true colors. We'll see how that plays out in November,

@David - neither side being willing to compromise? C'mon. The Dems are full of compromisers. Obama has been castigated here and in the press everywhere for being too accommodating to the Repubs. Look at the health care bill. the Bush tax cuts and the ridiculous debt ceiling crisis. Repubs who occasionally side with the Dems are being hounded out of their own party. Where is the equivalent happening with the Dems? Usually you seem sensible but I've no idea what prompted that ridiculous comment.
He's 80 and a lifer. You did the right thing.
I would do the same. Unfortunately down here, I couldn't make that choice if they were both Republicans!
The Senate is losing all of it's great Republicans... and the blood letting in the Republican Primaries is killing that party, which begs the question: What's next?
Bill Clinton said that although he likes him personally and that "he's a very appealing sort of person," if the attitude of "the gentleman that defeated Sen. Lugar" had been prevailing throughout history, we never would have had a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, the Capitol would not have moved to D.C., and the federal government would not have assumed the debts of the colonies from the Revolutionary War.

http://www.nasdaq.com/video/video.aspx?vid=Bill-Clinton-Discusses-Partisan-Politics-517367141

Scary.