by Max Brantley
After his defeat yesterday by a Tea Party candidate, Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar issued a statement defining the state of politics nationally. The Republican Party is increasingly dominated by a my-way-or-highway orthodoxy. Compromise means only that others accede to the very specific and rigid ideology dictated for the party by message masters, Kochs and "religious" conservative lobbies. It provides an instant definition of the party and the candidates.
I'd still like to believe that this agenda is too extreme for swing voters, but the combined appeal of a fruit basket full of cherry-picked issues designed to motivate this or that niche voter may prove a national winning strategy. Gov. Mike Beebe's cautious moderation — heavily dosed with populism but with plenty of solicitude for corporate lobbies — is the model for the other side, but few Democratic politicians and precincts have mastered it as he did. From Talking Points Memo's report on Lugar's statement about the man who beat him, Richard Mourdock (emphasis supplied):
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.
The statement specifically namechecked FreedomWorks and the Club For Growth, the conservative groups that paid for negative ads tearing down Lugar in the closing weeks of the primary.
This is at work in some Republican primary legislative races in Arkansas, particularly in Northwest Arkansas.