Bob Bennett

Todd Akin of "legitimate rape" fame is holing up with his political consultant, Rex Elsass -- who is just as charming as you'd expect.

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The Supplicant

On a Tuesday in early February, a Tea Party event at the National Press Club set off miniature waves of excitement over a rather unlikely guest: Orrin Hatch. Hardly a favorite of the movement, Utah’s longest-serving senator and elder statesman surprised just about everyone by showing up alongside Representative Michele Bachmann and Senator Rand Paul and proceeding to address the assembled activists like a patriarch reunited with his loyal disciples. “I’ve been watching what the Tea Party does. I’m very impressed,” Hatch said.

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Conservative Crosshairs

Republicans are poised to take over the U.S. Senate in 2012. This isn't contingent on a GOP presidential win, or even a particularly good campaign year, but rather on the extremely tilted Senate playing field created by the 2006 Democratic landslide. Yet, oddly, that is no comfort for many sitting Republican senators, who may face savage primary challenges if they are even perceived to slight the conservative base.

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Jonathan Chait and Ezra Klein both speculate today about the possibility of a GOP revolt against the tax cut deal, and tie it to economic growth and the presidential election (as Chait accurately characterizes my post yesterday, I made a wimpy "prediction" that the GOP might defect). I think they are both correct that it is in the interest of the Republican Party to have the economy tank over the next two years -- especially in 2012.  However, I very much doubt that individual Republican pols will care about that.  And I specifically include the presidential contenders.  I'd be shocked if they

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&c

--Bob Bennett thinks Harry Reid will win out in Nevada. --Conflict of interest news: Chamber of Commerce renting to Fox News --What would voters change about the Constitution? --David Frum on the potential of Mike Huckabee 2012, and Huckabee's response

Today we introduce a new regular feature:, the Citizen Awards. This blog is all about the quest for a better society. Every week, we'll recognize one person who helped advance that cause (the Good Citizen) and one who set it back (the Bad Citizen). We'll focus on public figures and try not to take it, or ourselves, too seriously. Good Citizen of the Week: Bob Bennett Senator Bob Bennett was not in the news this week. But he's in the news this summer, because the Utah Republican Party denied his bid to run for a fourth term. Bennett has an 83.6 rating from the American Conservative Union.

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True partisans don’t like to hear this—Texas Democrat Jim Hightower used to say, “There is nothing in the middle of the road, but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”—but American elections are most often battles for the political center. Whoever can marginalize their opponent by identifying them with the far left or right is likely to win. By that measure, the Democrats can be pleased with the results of the May 18 elections.

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Outside Right

WASHINGTON—This year's elections may exacerbate the difference between our two political parties, but not in the way most people are talking about. With incumbent Democratic Senators under threat in two more primaries on Tuesday, the conventional view is that Republicans and Democrats will emerge from this election more ideologically polarized than ever. Primaries will push Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left. That's only half true. Republicans will, indeed, end the year a more philosophically coherent right-wing party.

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Charlie Crist has fled the GOP. John McCain has sold his maverick soul. Bob Bennett just got throttled by conservatives. Michele Bachmann is occasionally taken seriously.

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Tory Magic

WASHINGTON—"There's something else you need to know about me," declared the earnest young politician, "which is I believe the test of a good and strong society is how we look after the most vulnerable, the most frail and the poorest." This lovely bleeding-heart liberal sentiment was part of the closing statement offered by David Cameron, the leader of Britain's Conservative Party at last week's final debate before this Thursday's election. And after a rocky campaign start, Cameron now leads in the polls and may well become the next prime minister.

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