LATE last week the local teleprompter readers were touting a poll that purported to show superannuated Indiana Senator Dick Lugar with a small lead (less than the "margin" of "error") over Teabagging challenger Dick "He's Won Two Statewide Contests" Mourdock.
(Wait, sorry. I apologize for the fact that as part of my typical, if not knee-jerk, attitude about polls I almost never pay attention to who conducted them, and I'm rarely, if ever, interested enough to go back to look.)
The next day a new poll came out showing Lugar roughly 10 pts down. I know the source for this one, since every report was careful to tell me right at the top that it came from The Respected Howey/Depauw Indiana Battleground Poll. [on edit: it turns out that it's actually just the Howey/Depauw Indiana Battleground Poll, not The Respected, etc. Honest mistake. That's the only way anyone referred to it, for some reason. Interesting that "respected" means "academic, and not for rent". We have a real propensity in this country for saying what we know about Business only when we think no one's listening. Or else when there's a buck to be made.]
Anyway, not only were we supposed to believe Howey, it seems as though we should. Lugar seems to. He gave an interview Saturday which basically ran: "Help me! Please! Democrats should cross-over and vote for me next Tuesday, although I want to go on record as saying that I never said Democrats should cross over."
I may have mentioned, once or twice, but it bears repeating: the Lugar campaign is the gosh-darned stupidest thing I ever saw, and I live in Indiana. The longest-serving Senator in Indiana history is now in danger of losing a Republican primary to a Teabagger nutjob two years after junior Senator Dan "Carpetbagger" Coats managed to defeat one two weeks after moving back to Indiana. He's losing despite the "support" of "wildly popular" Indiana Governor Mitch "RV" Daniels. He's losing despite Mourdock's clear and wide slime trail in Indiana Republican politics.And Lord knows I'm no expert, but I think saying "I need your help" to Democrats and independents at the eleventh hour might have been a little more effective if you hadn't just spent the past four months, and untold thousands, on campaign ads that spit out "Obama" the way you might say "Gonorrhea" to the person you just learned had infected you.
I'm not sure why Lugar took this guy seriously in the first place, and I really don't understand how a guy who's been in the Senate since Cicero was Chairman of the Armed Services Committee couldn't have him crushed at the local level, before it got to those unfortunate campaign ads. (Speaking of which, Mitch Daniels may be about as honest as he is power forward material, but his commercials have certainly been effective. Until he made some for Lugar, anyway. Lugar's staff didn't have the phone number?) He ran in fear of being called moderate. So now the national punditasters are bemoaning how There's no room in the Republican party for Dick Lugar anymore. Well, fuck. If you listen to his campaign ads he's just slightly to the left of Jim DeMint. In fact their voting records are really all that different.
Why didn't Lugar just come out and tell the truth? Why in the world do you even care to keep a job where you can't? The Congress can't get anything done. Replacing Lugar with a Teabagger isn't going to change many votes, it's just going to give you a Senator with no influence, to match the other one. Why not say so?
I don't think the problem is there's suddenly no room for a "moderate" Republican. I think the problem is that for the last thirty years, anyone who might've qualified has been too afraid of his own electorate to open his mouth.