Stanley Weiss has written an “open letter to Mitt Romney,” which is by far the weirdest commentary on the Lugar-Mourdock Senate primary race I have read:
Governor, now that you are the presumptive Republican nominee, you face a choice. You can either give in to the ignorance and intolerance of tea party purists like Richard Mourdock, who threaten to make the Know-Nothings of the 1840s look like MENSA members by comparison. Or you can engage in a wider, more intelligent discussion of the U.S. role in the world at this crucial moment in history, the way Republican statesmen have in the past. There is no in-between.
It’s not terribly accurate to describe Mourdock as a “purist” or a Tea Partier. As far as foreign policy and national security are concerned, Lugar has recently been the one making opportunistic (some might say desperate) attacks on Mourdock, and has even trotted out a quote from 20 years ago about flag burning to use against his opponent. Nothing says “statesmanship” like uncritical Pentagon boosterism and flag-waving demagoguery.
Mourdock’s argument against Lugar is that he has been in Washington too long (true), that Lugar doesn’t even really live in Indiana anymore (also basically true), and Lugar has cast a number of recent votes, including one for the TARP, that conservatives find unacceptable. Lugar has an admirable record on arms control and securing nuclear materials, and more recently he has been one of the most prominent Republican figures urging caution and restraint on Libya and Syria. We should expect none of this from Mourdock, assuming he manages to win in November. That doesn’t mean that Lugar should be able to flout the wishes of his core constituencies at home without expecting serious protest. Lugar is being held accountable by his party’s primary voters, and that’s an entirely healthy thing.
Weiss’ article is particularly strange in that it is addressed to Romney. Romney made his opposition to New START one of the main elements of his criticism of Obama foreign policy almost two years ago, and he has continued to bash the treaty since ratification. There is hardly a Republican alive more inclined to ignore an appeal on behalf of Lugar than Romney. After all, Lugar publicly dismissed and refuted Romney’s ridiculous arguments against the treaty. Based on Romney’s statements to date, there is also not much hope that Romney will be offering “a wider, more intelligent discussion of the U.S. role in the world.”