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

Michael Bay might direct Benghazi movie

Bay, who has spent the last several years gaining popularity for his "Transformers" films, is reportedly in talks to direct the Benghazi film "13 Hours," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Holder wants Denzel to play him in movie

Holder spoke to The Hill about Hollywood and politics while at an event at the Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday that was hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

'Rival Survival' premiering Wednesday

Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) are getting ready to show America their bipartisan fire-starting skills on "Rival Survival," a reality show starring tho lawmakers that premiers Wednesday night on the Discovery Channel.

Lovitz has a field day with Hillary

Before Hillary Clinton's jobs comment is swept aside as a minor whoopsie, a few words from Jon Lovitz.

John Oliver has some ideas for the FDA

Some people want more nutrition information on food labels--but who really understands those labels anyway?

White House

Russian hackers broke into the White House network

Hackers with suspected ties to the Russian government recently broke into the White House’s unclassified computer network, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Obama is withholding over 15,000 Fast and Furious documents

President Obama claimed executive privilege to withhold over 15,000 documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, including nearly 20 emails sent between Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife.

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.

Congress

Justin Amash envisions a libertarian Congress

Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian congressman from Michigan, knows that Congress is far from libertarian. But someday, he thinks that might change.

Rand Paul: The GOP's image ‘sucks’

Rand Paul didn’t mince words about the GOP.

Small college's students thrown into 2014 election

Young people tend not to engage much in the humdrum local politics that go into midterm elections. But what if it’s happening literally in their own backyard?

GOP senator: 'Sorry the government's so f***ed'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made some self-deprecating jokes and colorful remarks about the state of the government during a recent private gathering, per a recording provided to CNN by South Carolina Democrats.

Top lawmaker's Ebola claim

A leading House Republican says he is aware of information that points to the United States eventually receiving non-U.S. Ebola patients for treatment.