Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I’m Losing Respect for Sen. Lugar (update)

Last fall, in my post “I’m Losing Respect for Sen. Lugar” I said this:

[T]hough I’m a Democrat, I’ve always thought very highly of, respected, and even supported Sen. Lugar. But my respect has begun to wane. In recent years, I’ve felt that Sen. Lugar lost his ability (or desire) to think independently and became just another Republican. From time to time, he’d recapture some of the spark that made him so distinguished, but those moments seem fleeting. And over the last two years, he’s been all too quiet as Congressional Republicans have become simply the party of “no” without any new ideas or direction.

Today, my respect for Sen. Lugar took another blow.

As readers of this blog (and, in particular, the post “Opposition to the DREAM Act Is a Racist “F-You” to the American Dream”) know, I’m a strong supporter of the DREAM Act. Sen. Lugar was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act when it was originally introduced in the Senate, helped shepherd the bill through the Senate, and he was one of only three Republican Senators who voted to end the Republican filibuster in December 2010.

Following President Obama’s speech on immigration earlier this week, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) sought to re-introduce the DREAM Act in the Senate. However, this time, just five months after standing up for his principals and voting for the bill, Sen. Lugar has pulled his name as a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act.

Lugar’s spokesman said Lugar did not join Democrats in reintroducing the federal legislation to help children of illegal immigrants — known as the DREAM Act, or Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — because Democrats have politicized the issue.

“President Obama's appearance in Texas yesterday framed immigration as a divisive election issue instead of attempting a legitimate debate on comprehensive reform,” said spokesman Mark Helmke. “Ridiculing Republicans was clearly a partisan push that effectively stops a productive discussion about comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act before the 2012 election.”

Right. Sen. Lugar decided not to co-sponsor an issue that was important enough for him to sponsor, advocate on behalf of for 4 years, and cross party lines to support just because Democrats “politicized” and framed immigration as a “divisive election issue”. First, aren’t controversial issues, by their very nature “politicized”? And aren’t issues upon which politicians disagree, election issues? More importantly, do you think that the Tea Party-backed primary challenge that Sen. Lugar now faces had anything to do with his change of heart? I think that we all know the real reason that Sen. Lugar withdrew his support: Richard Mourdock and the ascendant Teapublicans.

To me this is just another sign that Sen. Lugar has become just another politician who will do or say whatever is necessary to keep his seat, integrity, principles, and intellectual honesty be damned. If he has to tack to the far right to fend off the primary challenge, then that’s what he’ll do, even if it means that he’s no longer the man that many people have respected (and voted for) over the past decades.

Update (May 14, 2011): Corrected corruption to Labels following Blogger crash.

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