Richard Mourdock: Wrong, Not “Right”, for Indiana
So Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock has defeated six-term Senator Richard Lugar in Indiana’s Republican primary. Wow. Lugar had been one of our senators since 1976 and he’d been widely respected as one of the best senators in Washington during that time. Speaking just for myself, I’ve had several excellent experiences with Sen. Lugar over the years, though I must admit that I’ve lost respect for him in recent years as I felt that he lost his independence and moved right (for more on this see I’m Losing Respect for Sen. Lugar posted September 2010 and I’m Losing Respect for Sen. Lugar (update) posted May 2011). But apparently times change and now the Tea Party rage and desire to return to 1950 (or is it 1850?) has claimed the scalp of one of the true remaining “statesmen” in Washington.
Over the next six months you’re going to hear a lot about Richard Mourdock. I’m sure that I’ll write about him at some length because the idea of him being my senator is, frankly, terrifying. But today, in the wake of his victory yesterday, I wanted to take a brief moment and just highlight a few of the things about Mourdock that you may not know and which should (I hope) begin to give readers pause at the idea of this man being your senator (let alone voting for him).
- As Indiana Treasurer, he invested Indiana pension funds into automotive stocks and funds that were, at the time the investments were made, essentially junk bonds.
- When Chrysler finally went into bankruptcy and the creditors reached an agreement that was approved by the bankruptcy Court, Mourdock, acting as Indiana Treasurer, went to court to try to stop the settlement. He took his claim to the Supreme Court and lost. A few things about this whole fiasco are worth noting specifically:
- Mourdock, paid millions in state funds to lawyers (mostly in New York, not here in Indiana);
- One of the Court’s findings in its ruling against Mourdock was that even if Mourdock and Indiana prevailed in the litigation, there was no scenario in which Indiana would get more money than under the approved settlement (go ahead and read that again); and
- Had Mourdock’s lawsuit succeeded, not only would Indiana have received less money than under the settlement, but Chrysler would have been liquidated and the auto industry would likely have been thrown into a massive collapse, likely at the cost of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Indiana.
- Mourdock believes that the 17th Amendment to the Constitution (calling for the direct election of senators by the people) should be repealed so that state legislatures would once again elect senators. The 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913.
- Mourdock also apparently believes that both Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional.
- Mourdock claims that one of the principal problems in Washington these days is that there is too much bipartisanship. He’s also said that if elected to a minority caucus in the Senate, his principal focus would be, not on legislating or working with Democrats, but on campaigning to elect more Republicans.
- I can’t forget this: During the 2010 race for Treasurer, Mourdock’s opponent, Pete Buttigieg repeatedly challenged Mourdock to debate the issues (in particular the Chrysler bankruptcy litigation and bad investments). Mourdock didn’t just refuse; he refused to even respond to Buttigieg’s requests. However, that didn’t stop Mourdock and his entourage from showing up in front of Buttigieg’s house one evening for a little publicity stunt speech while Buttigieg was touring the state to meet voters.
Finally (and yes, I realize that this is largely repetitive of one of the points made above), I think some of what Mourdock had to say just this morning during an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd is worth listening to and reflecting upon:
Transcript (emphasis added):
CHUCK TODD: You have said that there needs to be more partisanship in Washington. How do you square that with being a legislator?
RICHARD MOURDOCK: Well, what I've said is that I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view. [...] Bipartisanship means they have to come our way [...] To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on someone else with a microphone or in front of a camera. [...] Even those Republicans who more often than not vote the right way aren't coming back into their states or their districts and getting in front of the unfriendly crowds and unfriendly microphones to make the point as to why our point of view is good. [...] I feel I can defend the purpose of conservatism, and more Republicans should be doing it just as I want to.
Seriously. I don’t know about you, but he sounds less like someone who wants to be a Senator and more like a spoiled 4-year-old who says, “play by my rules or I’m taking my ball and bat and going home.” And, though it was perhaps an inadvertent word choice, I think the fact that Mourdock believes the the highlight of politics is to “inflict” his opinion on others is … um … just wow.
If you want to be sure that Mourdock never gets anywhere close to the United States Senate, then please show a little love to his Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly.