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Posted at 10:26 AM ET, 05/09/2012

Dick Lugar, poor loser?

Some candidates are at their most likable in defeat. But Dick Lugar, who (mostly) ran as a Dick Lugar-style gentleman, is not, as it turns out, one of them.


Sen. Richard Lugar gives his concession speech following a touch loss to Richard Mourdock on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. (Mike Fender - THE STAR)

After 35 years of low-stress campaigning, the Indiana statesman might have been prepared for that gentle breeze to kick up a notch some day, but he wasn’t.

First, his staff should have begged him, hip-checked him, or if necessary, seen to it that the following statement was eaten by a computer virus, or the campaign mascot. Maybe he stopped listening to them a while ago. But he’s had no practice at losing, and it showed.

His long, defensive election night statement begins by reiterating that he was right to run and fit to serve. And he holds that note far too long: “My health is excellent, I believe that I have been a very effective Senator for Hoosiers and for the country, and I know that the next six years would have been a time of great achievement. Further, I believed that vital national priorities, including job creation, deficit reduction, energy security, agriculture reform, and the Nunn-Lugar program, would benefit from my continued service as a Senator.’’

A moment like this is one in which others should be – and were – touting your storied and honorable career, Senator. Yet there you are, undercutting their kind words by going on (and on) about being right in all regards: “Analysts will speculate about whether our campaign strategies were wise. Much of this will be based on conjecture by pundits who don’t fully appreciate the choices we had to make...”

I am a better Republican than my party deserved, he tells us: “According to Congressional Quarterly vote studies, I supported President Reagan more often than any other Senator...”

But I don’t think that person who beat me will amount to much, he strongly suggests: “If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate.’’

No, not much at all: “This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve.’’

Finally, though I am nowhere near finished, here are a few other things I should have let others say, or saved for my memoirs, or even for a week from now, after I’d slept and taken a breath: “If that attitude prevails in American politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have witnessed during the last several years. And I believe that if this attitude expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to minority status. Parties don’t succeed for long if they stop appealing to voters who may disagree with them on some issues.”

You’ll miss me, children: “For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc.”

And did I mention that I am rarely other than right? “As someone who has seen much in the politics of our country and our state, I am able to take the long view. I have not lost my enthusiasm for the role played by the United States Senate. Nor has my belief in conservative principles been diminished. I expect great things from my party and my country. I hope all who participated in this election share in this optimism.” Or not.

Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer and anchors ‘She the People.’ Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.

By  |  10:26 AM ET, 05/09/2012

Tags:  Richard Lugar, Dick Lugar, poor loser, Richard Mourdock, Indiana Senate race, Indiana Senate Republican primary

 
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