The pressure starts to get to Orrin Hatch

THE PRESSURE STARTS TO GET TO ORRIN HATCH…. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah is no doubt worried about facing a credible primary challenge next year, and is eager — perhaps a little too eager — to pander to the GOP’s far-right base.

But it appears some handle this kind of pressure better than others. Hatch is starting to crack.

GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) reportedly directed a few profane insults toward President Obama’s healthcare law in a speech late last week.

During at an appearance at an event sponsored by the Utah State University College Republicans, Hatch was asked whether he thought the nation’s healthcare system needs serious reforms. He acknowledged that states have different problems when it comes to healthcare, but called the federal law Democrats passed last year a “dumb-ass program” that will not solve them.

“Every state has different demographics, every state has different problems,” Hatch said, according to a Utah Statesman report published Monday. “It’s good to allow them to work out their own problems rather than a one-size-fits-all federal government, dumb-ass program. It really is an awful piece of crap.”

As a substantive matter, Hatch probably doesn’t realize states will be able to craft their own policies if they decide to come up with an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Indeed, Hatch doesn’t realize a lot of things. Very few senators were as confused as Hatch over policy details during the debate over health care reform, and the senator routinely repeated pure gibberish on national television, at one point even descending into Beck-like conspiracy theories.

But as a rhetorical matter, is Hatch really comfortable with phrases like “dumb-ass program” and “awful piece of crap”? He was speaking in Utah, after all.

Orrin Hatch, as far to the right as he is, has generally tried to maintain a certain degree of stature and respect. As his party becomes even more hysterical, and the senator feels the need to score cheap points with right-wing activists, Hatch is apparently willing to trade some dignity for some primary votes.

It’s kind of sad to watch.

Update: An alert reader reminds me of the point, in late 2009, when Hatch was asked about pro-reform activists who appeared at a district office, urging him to support Democratic efforts. Hatch told a national television audience he was inclined to kick his concerned constituents “in the teeth.” Like I said, he doesn’t appear to respond to pressure well.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.