The Indianapolis Star's Matt Tully thinks the "far right" should leave Sen. Richard Lugar alone. He'll undoubtedly face a primary challenge from the tea party types who think "he's been in D.C. too long and worked with Democrats too often." But Lugar will survive the challenge for a lot of reasons, the chief one being that "Hoosiers are smarter than that."
But the country is nonetheless littered with veteran politicians who have seen their problems with tea partiers and the conservative base of the Republican Party cost them. Unfortunately, those who have been most at risk are in many cases those who over the years have been driven by concerns larger than silly partisanship.
That doesn't mean they've been raging liberals, or that they aren't conservative. It simply means they've been willing to have rational conversations about hot-button issues so politicized that even talking with the other side about them is tantamount to betrayal in the eyes of some die-hards.
Well, call me a dumb Hoosier. It's true, as Tully says, that Lugar votes with his party 84 percent of the time. It's also true that most of the conservative rating organizations give him high marks and the liberal ones give him low marks. But none of that really answers the argument that he might have been in Washington too long and agreed with Democrats too often. Republicans aren't right 84 percent of the time; it's when and on what issues they agree with Democrats that matter. And when compromise usually means "government will grow slightly more slowly than it would have otherwise," that's not exactly pleasing to those of us (far-right nuts that we are) who think there should be reasonable (i.e., constitutional) limits to the expansion of federal power. If you give up on "silly partisanship," that doesn't mean the other side will. It usually means you just get stomped harder and quicker.
And Republicans are challenged from the right, and Democrats get pulled by their left. That's the nature of politics, and the arguments among all those factions are what help average Americans, who aren't consumed by politics 24/7, decide where they're going to come down in a particular election. So even if I completely agreed with every nice thing Tully says about Lugar, I still wouldn't advise those who think he isn't conservative enough to keep quiet. That would be unhealthy politics.