Post-Lugar loss, how long can media continue its GOP “extremist” meme?

Almost immediately after his primary challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeated six-term Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary, Democrats denounced the election as yet another example of an “extremist-fringe” take-over of the GOP.

It’s a charge that’s now all too familiar.

Republicans have been branded extremists by a desperate opposition on just about every political issue since 2009.  The name calling reached its height right around the time all those “extremist” Tea-Partiers were handing the GOP a 63-seat gain in the U.S. House and a six-seat gain in the Senate.  The constituents of recent Tea Party- backed candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla), Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.), Sen. Rand Paul (W.V.), and Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) must not have gotten the “fringe” candidate memo.

It seems relevant that the huge gains in 2010 came immediately after two years of entirely uninhibited Democratic dominance in Congress.  If electoral outcomes count for anything, it appears “right-wing extremism” is more popular than whatever the Democrats were doing at the time.
Just as they misjudged and mischaracterized their opposition in 2010, liberals are imagining things if they believe that Mourdock is out of step with the Indiana electorate.  He’s twice won in statewide elections against a Democratic opponent.   In 2010, he was re-elected State Treasurer with 62 percent of the vote.  In 2006, a terrible electoral year for Republicans, Mourdock won 52 percent.  Not too bad for an “out-of-touch fanatic.”

Moreover, Lugar’s loss was hardly the work of a well-organized fringe group.  Lugar was decisively defeated, losing by over 130,000 votes (about 20 percent of the total vote).  Despite Lugar’s stature, it’s not hard to understand how voters might be skeptical of re-electing a Senator who hasn’t actually maintained a residence within their state since Jimmy Carter was President.

At the national level, the extremism talking-point looks just as silly.  Neutral commentators acknowledge that the Obama campaign will have a tough time convincing Americans that Mitt Romney, a candidate conservatives and the Tea Party only recently begrudgingly endorsed, is too “extreme” to be elected.

Tellingly, most Democrats seem more than willing to ignore the exodus of moderate members within their own ranks.  The past two years have been brutal for Blue Dogs, as moderate-to-conservative House Democrats have been retiring or losing primaries in droves.  The Blue Dogs who lost re-election in 2010 don’t blame their constituents for their demise; they blame the unpopular policy decisions of President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

At the end of the day, the American electorate, of which 40 percent self-identifies as “conservative,” gets to decide who is too “extreme” for their tastes, not liberal politicians and commentators.  If voters weren’t buying the extremism charge in 2010, it’s hard to imagine they will this November.

Comments

Polititainment

Kimmel: Stoner idea or gov. expenditure?
Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R – Okla.) fifth annual “Wastebook” was released Wednesday and some of the federally funded projects are so outrageous that they can be hard to believe. Late night host Jimmy Kimmel had the same thought and offered his audience a quiz. He read the name of a project, some real and some […]
Obama channels Chris Rock again

At rallies for Democrats in Maryland and Illinois on Sunday, Obama dropped the name "Cousin Pookie" -- a character that he used frequently to energize black voters during his 2008 campaign -- during his speeches.

Oliver beats Supreme Court's camera ban
Comedian John Oliver is sick of the Supreme Court ban on cameras in the court room and the ridiculous ways it makes television news stations have to cover those cases. But all hope is not lost. “What happens at the Supreme Court is way too important not to pay attention to and yet the ban […]
Stewart and Colbert go after 'Fangate'

Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a field day with “Fangate” Thursday night.

O'Reilly v Stewart on 'white privilege'

Jon Stewart had one goal in bringing Bill O’Reilly on his show Tuesday evening: "I want you to admit that there is such a thing as white privilege."

White House

White House fence jumper charged with assault
WASHINGTON (AP) — The 23-year-old Maryland man who climbed over the White House fence Wednesday night has been charged with felonies for assaulting two police dogs and making threats, the Secret Service said Thursday. Dominic Adesanya of Bel Air, Maryland, is in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for previous outstanding warrants, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said. […]
President Obama, unpaid bills and the curious editing of the White House transcript
President Obama, some unpaid bills and a curiously “inaudible” section of the White House recording of a speech — that’s how all good stories start, right? While at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Chicago, Obama cracked a joke about the “unpaid bills” at his home. The joke was reported by the White House Press […]
Secrecy shrouds how the Obamas cook their chicken wings

Now it seems the Obamas are tight-lipped even about their eating habits.

Obama delivers devastating blow to red state Democrats, calls them ‘all folks who vote with me’
President Obama can’t seem to stay out of the 2014 midterm elections, no matter how much his fellow Democrats want him to. Obama spoke on Al Sharpton’s radio show Monday, which was later replayed on MSNBC, insisting that red state Democrats are still his “strong allies.” “A lot of the states that are contested this time […]
Obama reveals his favorite Supreme Court decision

President Obama dished on his favorite Supreme Court decision during his presidency, and it wasn’t either of his interviewer’s top guesses.

Congress

CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers to snoop
Despite a number of growing foreign and domestic threats over the summer, the CIA admitted that they had been using their resources to spy on elected officials in the Senate. Now, insiders are alleging that it’s not just what they did that is the problem, but how they went about it. A new piece by the […]
Republicans say they will reform the IRS

Republicans are talking about reforming the IRS if they gain the majority in the Senate next month, but seem to be treading with caution on making any specific promises.

'Wastebook' finds $25B in 'unnecessary' spending
Monkey gambling, synchronized swimming sea monkeys, and mountain lions on treadmills, oh my! Sen. Tom Coburn (R – Okla.) released his fifth and final “Wastebook” Wednesday, chronicling $25 billion tax dollars spent on 100  “silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects” this year. His findings are absolutely astonishing. Coburn, who is retiring this year, is not letting his fellow […]
Dems target Republicans as extremists on ed issues

Democrats this election cycle are working hard to paint their Republican opponents as wild extremists who would slash all funding for student loans.

Udall struggles to think of his favorite books

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) seemed a bit rattled in his recent interview with ABC 7 News.