The Case for Dick Lugar by Peggy Noonan The most recent polls suggest Dick Lugar, the senior U.S. senator from Indiana, first elected in 1976, is on track to lose his primary on Tuesday. I hope he doesn't
BigNews.Biz - May 05,2012 - The Case for Dick Lugar by Peggy Noonan
Wall Street Journal
May 3, 2012
Let's wade into an argument, and on what may well be the losing side.
The most recent polls suggest Dick Lugar, the senior U.S. senator from Indiana, first elected in 1976, is on track to lose his primary on Tuesday. I hope he doesn't for a number of reasons but one big one: the Senate needs grown-ups. The entire American government needs grown-ups, from Capitol Hill to the White House to the executive agencies. This is no time to lose one.
What Washington needs is sober and responsible adults. We are as a nation in a moment of real peril, facing challenges that are going to become existential-maybe already are-if we don't do something about them. We won't be able to ignore them-an unsound tax system, increasing and highly ideological regulation, an entitlement system whose demands will crush our children-for long. So right now, and more than ever, we need mature folk involved in our governance, people for whom not everything is new. People who know how to do things, who began studying a complicated issue 25 years ago and have kept up, who know it backward and forward. People who know the ways of the chamber backward and forward, and who know how to talk across the aisle. There is value in experience, in accomplishment and expertise. There is value in the ability to take the long view, and do your best with modesty and with an eye toward all the big jumbly categories of America, which are not limited to "rightist" and "leftist."
Mr. Lugar, ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime leader on controlling nuclear proliferation, is a sober and genial fellow. He is a conservative, always has been. He is experiencing a challenge from the right. He's been under fire, for instance, for voting for the confirmation of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. As a matter of form, policy and tradition he did the right thing. He also helped shepherd through the nomination of John Roberts as chief Justice. He did the right thing there, too. He firmly backed President Bush on Iraq until he came to have doubts about administration policy and execution, and when he'd thought it through he took to the floor of the senate to explain his thinking, and his break.
He is independent. That's good, a plus: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment," as Edmund Burke observed. Mr. Lugar has won the respect of Senate Democrats. That's good, too. In the future, it may turn out at some moment to be crucial.
The general position of respect he holds in Washington is not new. I remember, in 1988, working for George H.W. Bush, who had just won his party's nomination for the presidency. The Bush entourage was on Air Force Two, en route to Indiana, to celebrate the nominee for vice president, Dan Quayle. Mr. Quayle was a