advocates in Indiana are congratulating themselves on the Republican primary victory of one of their own,
, over six-term Senate veteran
. But the rest of the country should be mourning the departure of the epitome of what Washington needs much more of: conscientious bipartisanship.
The 80-year-old Mr. Lugar is being kicked out in part because of his age, his alleged failure to keep a real residence in Indiana, and his penchant for putting common sense and national security ahead of party labels. Inadvertently, his defeat may give the
But more significant in terms of good governance, Mr. Lugar's defeat will deprive Congress and the Republican Party of one of the last remaining GOP legislators who once made Capitol Hill a place where bipartisanship could get things done. He has been the embodiment of the old
In his nearly 36 years in the Senate, Mr. Lugar had managed in spite of adherence to that notion to compile a solid conservative voting record. He parted with his Republican colleagues only when the merits of legislation dictated it, and particularly concerning national security.
Lugar's greatest achievement was his bipartisan work with then-Sen.
Mr. Lugar sought to bring greater prominence to harnessing nuclear weapons after the Cold War by making it the centerpiece of a short-lived bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996. He ran a well-reasoned campaign with a strong television ad on the threat of loose nukes, but his own low-key style and persona never connected with voters outside Indiana.
There, however, he was a phenomenal vote-getter until this year's Senate primary campaign. In four previous re-elections, he had won with more than two-thirds of the vote, and in 2007 he had gained 87 percent support. But that was before the rise of the tea party movement in Indiana, and before he sold his home and moved to a hotel during his visits to the state, enabling critics to cast him as a neglectful outsider. He finally reregistered as residing at his family's 600-acre farm in Marion County.
Mr. Lugar himself cited his votes over the last six years as what enabled the tea party to defeat him. He listed his support for the auto industry bailout, approval of a new START arms control treaty with the Russians, his votes for the two most recent Obama nominees to the Supreme Court, and backing a version of legislation providing for a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.
Mr. Lugar first won national attention as mayor of Indianapolis, where he was dubbed then
As chairman of the
Analyzing his own defeat, Mr. Lugar said his opponent's "embrace of an unrelenting partisanship mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results" in the Senate. He said Mr. Mourdock's "rejectionist orthodoxy and rigidity" against whatever the Democrats propose did not bode well for getting any constructive work done. Nor does the loss of the earnest Dick Lugar after a lifetime of reaching out to the other side.