His arms-control advocacy has earned him an undeserved reputation for foreign-policy realism, as have his occasional muted criticisms of the wars for which he reliably votes. But Lugar, perhaps the most respected GOP wise man on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, backed the Iraq War when it counted and will no doubt be up for seeing a sequel in Iran.
Daniel Larison also put the Mourdock/Lugar race in correct perspective:
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.
Lugar had a sense of entitlement that ultimately made him a bad politician. The Republican Party does have a problem with losing its realists — as Jordan Michael Smith shows in our May issue — but it would have been exceedingly difficult to argue that Lugar deserved to win on foreign-policy alone, even if he had been much more of a realist than he ever actually was.