Skip to comments.The Lesson of Robert Bennett of Utah (Today's electorate is in an anti-incumbent mood)
Posted on 05/12/2010 6:44:35 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Sen. Robert Bennett, an honorable and sincere politician, was brought down by the rank and file of the Utah Republican party over the weekend. Bennett, visibly shaken by his loss, seemed as stunned as anybody that he didnt pass muster with his own party.
He had good reason to be shocked. Bennett is reliably conservative with considerable seniority. Hes also one of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnells right-hand men. In every way, he represented the establishment within the GOP. And, ultimately, thats why he lost.
His gravest sins, according to critics, were his longtime support for a health-insurance mandate and his vote for the TARP bailout of the banks.
Inside the Beltway, the shock is even more profound. Most of the news stories describe Bennett as being ousted or kicked out of the GOP, as if he didnt lose the contest fair and square. The pundits descriptions are even more stark. A guy like Bob Bennett, who is a right-wing conservative, is being driven out because hes not sufficiently conservative? asked an incredulous Juan Williams on Fox News. If I lived in Utah, Im going to give up Bob Bennett and his seniority and connections?
On Meet the Press, New York Times columnist David Brooks fumed, This is a damn outrage. The Washington Posts E. J. Dionne Jr. lamented, Its almost a nonviolent coup. Presumably he meant it was almost a coup, not almost nonviolent. Regardless, its a curious way to describe a perfectly peaceful democratic process.
The conventional Beltway interpretation is that Bennett fell victim to the growing right-wing extremism of the Republican party, fueled by those Huns, the tea partiers.
This is not an altogether crazy interpretation, but it is an insufficient one. It assumes that those who voted him out at the state GOP convention were irrational ideologues who cannot grasp their own interests.
Another way of looking at this is that the GOP rank and file are actually serious about what they say and dont use the same scorecard as Beltway denizens.
The delegates understood, better than most, that the other Republican contenders will almost surely win in November. (Utah hasnt elected a Democratic senator since 1958.) So the GOP wasnt risking losing its Senate seat, only Bennetts seniority and connections. Thats no small thing, but it is hardly calamitous either (particularly given the clout of Orrin Hatch, Utahs senior senator).
Over the last year, theres been a lot of Beltway talk about how the tea parties are really Astroturf activists in the employ of the GOP. If that were the case, they certainly wouldnt have taken down Bennett.
The whole country is in an anti-Washington, anti-incumbent mood. Thats better news for the party out of power, the Republicans, but its not necessarily good news for incumbents.
Heck, what better way to prove your sincerity than to opt for some new blood, less tainted by seniority and connections?
Were seeing the same trend in Pennsylvania, where Arlen Specter is running as a Democrat because the Republican party had enough of Specters soulless opportunism and politics-as-usual tactics. The funny thing is that Pennsylvania Democrats seem fairly fed up with that sort of thing, too, which is why Specters challenger, Joe Sestak, looks poised to defeat the White Houses preferred candidate. Incumbents in West Virginia and Arkansas are having similar problems.
Independents, too, seem fed up, which is why they delivered stunning victories to Republicans in recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. And its why New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg spent $92.60 for every vote, only to barely win reelection.
The place where the winds of change seem to be blowing the weakest for now is the state where they are needed most. In nearly bankrupt California, Barbara Boxer is opposed in the primary by the quixotic blogger Mickey Kaus, who has been frozen out by the Democratic party.
Its certainly plausible that the GOP is tacking too far to the right, but that rightward shift is a natural and healthy response to Washingtons abrupt and largely unpopular leftward shift since 2008. In D.C., the coin of the realm is seniority and connections, and it is that currency that bought us the calamitous state of the country. Ironically, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were elected promising to change the way Washington works. For the powers that be, the more frightening and tangible lesson from Utah might well be: This time we mean it.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online
It's not an 'anti-incumbent' mood. It's an anti-Socialist mood and we no longer give a fig what party label the Socialist wears.
For the millionith time, why is Juan Williams on FOX?
Jonah never says it’s an anti-incumbment mood, those are the article poster’s words.
Jonah’s point is that the Tea Party is not a pawn of the GOP as evidenced by their dumping of Benett (pro-tarp,pro-amnesty,pro-individual mandate, etc.)
Seniority and connections might be an asset for a politician, but they are a threat to the health of a nation.
The beltway people don’t understand this.
Actually he does:
The whole country is in an anti-Washington, anti-incumbent mood.
The whole point of the primaries is to flush out the GOP's dead wood.
If we had done this in 2006 instead of being blindly loyal to our thugs, deviants and crooks, (like Mark Foley), just cause they were in office R's, we probably would not of lost the majority
I have no sympathy for Bennett. He ran the first time promising to self-term-limit, saying he would only seek 2 terms. He was running for his 4th term. Who says he can’t still be involved? Sorry.
Speaking of incumbents; can someone give an update on the Az race? It seems I see Juany Mc on TV every day and never hear anything about Hayworth. I am not in Arizona so I don’t see any of their local news, but I just hope Hayworth is a lot more active in this race than he seems to be from afar.
RE: Juan McCain ( I like the sound of it )
Here’s the latest on the election front ( Sent to me by a friend just 7 hours ago ) :
Several lawmakers face tough primaries
By The Associated Press (AP) 7 hours ago
Members of Congress with potentially tough primary challenges include:
_ Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Despite President Barack Obama’s full support, Republican-turned-Democrat Specter faces a strong challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak in the May 18 primary.
_ Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Lincoln is trying to fend off Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who has labor union support in next week’s primary.
_ Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. Bennet was appointed to the seat, and he’s being challenged by a Democrat who feels he should have gotten the nod instead, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The primary is Aug. 10.
_ Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. The 13-term lawmaker is being challenged by two Democrats, including Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien.
_ Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah. The five-term lawmaker, who voted against Obama’s health care bill, faces a June 22 runoff against retired teacher Claudia Wright.
_ Sen. John McCain of Arizona. The party’s 2008 standard-bearer faces a strong challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who says McCain isn’t conservative enough. The primary is Aug. 24.
_ Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina. Four GOP opponents, including Spartanburg County Solicitor Trey Gowdy, make similar charges against Inglis, who voted against the military surge in Iraq. The primary is June 8.
_ Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California. Mack is a proven vote-getter but must keep an eye on June 8 primary challenger Clay Thibodeau, who is criticizing her from the right.
_ Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah. Bennett lost his chance to seek a fourth term in a Republican convention dominated by tea party activists and other staunch conservatives.
_ Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia. The 14-term congressman became the first member of the House to be ousted this spring primary season after his opponent, state Sen. Mike Oliverio, mounted a campaign that questioned his ethics and his support for the health care overhaul.
I had read the entire article but missed that one line.
He does say the country is in a anti-incumbent mood but does not ascribe Bennett’s defeat to this.
Sorry for the mistake.
His main point is “Over the last year, theres been a lot of Beltway talk about how the tea parties are really Astroturf activists in the employ of the GOP. If that were the case, they certainly wouldnt have taken down Bennett”
Speaking of incumbents. Notice the defeat of 14 term Democratic incumbent Alan Mollohan of West Virginia. His Democratic challenger, Mike Olivero actually QUESTIONED his support of the healthcare bill. *THAT* one issue COST HIM the elections.
THAT and Scott Brown’s victory when he took over Ted Kennedy’s seat, tells you a lot about which side of the issue one has to be on to be on the winning side.
Not a mood. A burning obsession. Light the torches. Raise the pitchforks. Let’s roll.
Yes, my mistake.
Jonah may be an idiot as well, I’m no real fan of his.
However I stand by the rest of my post.
Oh please!! They have Shep Smith, Bob Beckel, Judith Miller, etc, etc., etc!! FOX is UNWATCHABLE
In today’s political environment, anti-incumbent really can be equated to anti-Democrat and anti-RINO.
Just look at WHO ( i.e. which party) is in control of our government and look at the poll ratings of congress and I don’t see how being anti-incumbent can’t be equated to anti-Democrat.
In fact, those who ran on a platform OPPOSING today’s incumbent policies, WIN.
It's kinda funny when these politicians return home to their state and wonder why they can't buy anything there with this currency.
Like we're supposed to be impressed that you sometimes eat lunch with Byron Dorgan and can get some hump like Dick Durbin to sometimes respond to your emails.
You forgot to add Hannity, the cartoon conservative, and BOR, who’s looking out for himself.
I agree, though the MSM never frames it that way.
None of these obituaries for Bennett mention the warm spot in his heart for shamnesty. I really doubt that it endeared him to the folks in Utah.