Indiana Republican Sen. Dick Lugar and his 77 percent conservative voting record was not good enough to prevent him from having a "tea party" primary challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Complete and total obstruction rather than an iota of compromise to make sure the government actually functions seems to be the new standard of what it means to be a "conservative" these days.
The panel on ABC's This Week weighed in on Lugar's primary challenge and pundits Bay Buchanan and George Will think it's just wonderful that Lugar is facing a primary challenge, despite the fact that he's got a lot better chance of defeating his Democratic challenger, Joe Donnelly. They might want to be careful what they wish for.
Nate Silver has more on that: Lugar Loss Could Provide Pickup Opportunity for Democrats:
The latest veteran lawmaker to be the subject of a vigorous primary challenge is the 80-year-old Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, who is being challenged for the Republican nomination by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. [...]
If Mr. Lugar loses, it should increase Democrats’ odds of picking up the Senate seat in November. Democrats have a fairly good candidate in Indiana in the form of United States Representative Joe Donnelly, who represents the Second Congressional District and who narrowly retained his seat in a very tough environment for Democrats nationally in 2010. The Second District, which includes South Bend and Michigan City, is slightly Republican-leaning relative to the country as a whole but slightly Democratic-leaning relative to the rest of Indiana.
I'm not getting my hopes up on this one, but it would be nice to see Republicans lose a seat in the Senate because of their purity tests. This AstroTurf so-called "tea party" of theirs, which is nothing but a rebranding effort by the far right wing of the party which wants to push them continually to the right has done some damage in previous elections already. Maybe we get lucky here and they do it again.
Transcript of the panel discussion below the fold.
TAPPER: Speaking of politics, I want to change the subject a bit to a big primary that's coming up in Tavis' home state of Indiana. The Republican senator there, the incumbent, Dick Lugar, looks like he's not going to have a very good Tuesday. Here's some of the sound that we have from him and his Republican opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUGAR: America faces serious challenges, but Hoosiers' courage and determination are unbreakable. It's this spirit that guides me every day in the Senate. My job has been and always will be to live up to the ideals of our state.
MOURDOCK: Dick Lugar has spent thousands of dollars telling you things about me that he knows are not true. He thinks this campaign's about me. But it's not. It's not about him, either. It's about America's future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's the state treasurer, Richard Mourdock, who according to polls looks like he is going to defeat Senator Richard Lugar in the primary on Tuesday, although who knows? Nobody's voted yet, so I'm just saying. But, Bay, you're excited about this.
BUCHANAN: I am, and I'm speaking as an individual, as a conservative activist, we are very excited. And this is -- goes to Greta's point. There is great enthusiasm in our party, and you read, hey, the Tea Party, it's done with, it's had its heyday. They should never write something like that, because that's what this is about. Lugar's been in Washington 36 years. He doesn't even own a home anymore in Indiana. He just lives here, has a farm back there, and kind of visits. And you know what? Americans, they've had it with this kind of government.
VAN SUSTEREN: You might want to hold -- you might want to hold that euphoria, because the polls also show that, while Lugar is behind for the primary, in a match-up with Donnelly, the congressman, the Democrat in November, is that -- is that Lugar would do much better. And if you're worried about the Republican Senate, you might want to pay more attention...
VAN SUSTEREN: And that Donnelly and Mourdock are neck and neck.
SMILEY: But, Greta, there's even a -- there's even a larger issue here beyond Mr. Lugar and Mr. Mourdock. This is a race where Dick Lugar is on his heels now over being bipartisan. He has a 77 percent conservative voting record. I grew up in this state with two United States senators, one on the left, a guy named Birch Bayh, and one on the right, named Richard Lugar. I am not a Republican, and I don't live there anymore, but my family still lives there, but I grew with Rick Lugar -- Dick Lugar as my state senator, as my United States senator.
To see him now on his heels over being bipartisan, we say what we want in Washington is for the parties to get along, to solve our major problems. And for the Tea Party and Mr. Mourdock now to be putting him on his back over being bipartisan, over trying to cross across the aisle, that's insane, Bay.
BUCHANAN: What your point is, is that -- that being bipartisan has helped, but what has happened in Washington? That's what the American people are looking at.
SMILEY: Bay, he has a 77 percent conservative voting record, Bay.
BUCHANAN: ... situation is worse.
SMILEY: So it's as if to the Tea Party and Republicans, if you don't vote with us 100 percent, if you don't have purity, we want you out.
BUCHANAN: Conservatives -- conservatives...
GOOLSBEE: I hope the president names him ambassador to...
TAPPER: I'd love to bring George (inaudible) for one second. What's your take on this? You know -- you know Dick Lugar. You probably know Mr. Mourdock, as well.
WILL: I know them both. And there comes a point when people bring out the most powerful slogan in politics, it's time for a change. And the fact is, he's served with distinctions for 36 years, and I don't think we should commit promiscuous sociology here by finding something about the country when people in Indiana said enough. Let's try someone else.