Lugar in a Nutshell

It’s a pretty good sign that election night isn’t going to have a great deal of drama when the post-mortems start even as voters are shuffling to the polls. That’s the case in Indiana today. At WaPo’s The Fix, Cillizza and Blake go through several what-ifs about how Dick Lugar might have saved himself with early, vicious negative ads on Richard Mourdock, but then they capture the primary in a nutshell:

The only path to victory available for Lugar seems to have been one that he was unwilling or unable — depending on how you view him and his career — to implement, including changing his voting record and his rhetoric on the campaign trail.

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“He was never willing to become what he is not,” said one GOP strategist favorably inclined to Lugar. “He is far too thoughtful a man to boil things down to tea party-acceptable soundbites, or simply laser-focus his rhetoric only on economic issues despite any number of requests to do so.”

In the end, Dick Lugar decided to be Dick Lugar. And that decision almost certainly will cost him his Senate career.

They could have put it another way by saying Dick Lugar decided not to be Mitt Romney. But you get the idea.

I’m not normally a big fan of the cult of the Great Big Adult Republicans who support most of the agenda of the conservative movement–and enable its pursuit of power by their party affiliation–but who maintain mainstream respectability by refusing to howl at the moon on command. But I do have a soft spot for Lugar if only because of his cooperation with Sam Nunn in an underappreciated effort to deal with the “loose nukes” issue after the end of the Cold War. Yeah, it would have been nice had Lugar not given the Bush-Cheney administration–supposedly so concerned with the spector of nuclear terrorism–considerable cover in its bizarre indifference, bordering on hostility, to the Nunn-Lugar Initiative. But he lent his voice and his name to the proposition that diplomacy might be necessary to the task of reducing the risk of the fiery annihiliation of the planet, and that’s worth something.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.