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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unfortunately, it is going to be rough on moderates: Running on Moderation in Immoderate Times


Senator Lugar, a Republican, answering questions from constituents in Brazil, Ind.

From The New York Times:

[Senator Richard G. Lugar], facing his first primary challenge since 1976, here was another constituent with a question reminding him how difficult it was to be a Republican like Richard Lugar right now.

“About a third of our federal debt is borrowed,” Judy Proctor, 64, began. “That is insane.

“China doesn’t want to lend us money, Canada doesn’t want to lend, we’re obviously irresponsible,” she continued, her voice rising and almost breaking. “Then we have Senator Lugar saying: ‘Well, maybe we can make it a little better next year. Maybe after that we can make it a little more better.’ It’s not enough. We have to stop. A third of our budget is borrowed! If we don’t do something dramatic, and soon, we’re done.”

Loud applause.

Mr. Lugar is trying to run on moderation in an immoderate time. He is betting that the Tea Party call of alarm and partisanship is drowning out a majority that prefers Republicans who specialize in reason and reaching across the aisle.

Whether he is right will reveal something about the strength of the Tea Party. The fact that he is even struggling says a lot about the identity crisis in the Republican Party.

“I take very seriously the point you are making,” Mr. Lugar began, his voice even as ever. At the same time, he continued, the government cannot simply tear up its credit cards. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, it would take five to seven years to get the budget deficit to zero.

“I understand the anguish that was just expressed,” he said finally, “that there are many citizens of our country who are angry and anguished, who really don’t know how to move on this particular situation and wish that somebody would cure it much more rapidly than I am suggesting. So I hear that. But nonetheless, we will try to move along the path I suggested, with your great help and counsel, and I think we can make it.”

A Rhodes scholar and a former Navy officer, Mr. Lugar has spent almost all his life in public service. As mayor of Indianapolis, he was credited with saving the city’s tax base, and therefore the city, by merging it with nearby suburbs. In the Senate, he is most proud of his work with Sam Nunn, Democrat of Georgia, to initiate a program of disarmament in the former Soviet Union.

Many of his positions dovetail with the Tea Party agenda; he has sponsored a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and argues for the need to reduce military spending and restructure entitlement programs to reduce the deficit.

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