Jonathan Chait

Dick Lugar Futilely Pleads For His Senate Seat

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There seems to be no dignified end for the Republican Senator facing a right-wing primary challenge. Arlen Specter took the best shot he had to survive: cut a deal to switch parties. It didn't work, and he lost in the Democratic primary. Orrin Hatch is desperately sucking up to a bunch of low-level whackos in Utah. Olympia Snowe is furiously moving right, even blocking her own small business bill. Now Dick Lugar is opposing the DREAM Act, which he co-sponsored in the last Congress, on the grounds that it's now been "politicized."

Hatch and Snowe have at least a small chance to survive. Lugar is going down now matter how many positions he repudiates. I don't understand why none of these figures is willing to find a way to maintain their dignity. Why not go independent? Or retire? Or go down fighting for what you believe? The ritual of some septugenarian incumbent Senator desperately repudiating the political persona he's spent a career building, pleading to hang on to his seat, and then losing anyway, has become a pathetic and familiar spectacle.

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