If Indiana Senator Dick Lugar loses his Republican primary race to Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock tonight, as polls indicate is likely, his defeat will signal the end of moderate Republican internationalism in the US Senate and the GOP more broadly.
Lugar, a two time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee best known for his work on arms control and nonproliferation treaties, used to be one of the GOP’s leading figures on foreign policy. Now he’s an outlier.
The Senate Republican caucus was once filled with the likes of Dick Lugar—sensible realists such as Lincoln Chafee, Chuck Hagel, George Voinovich and Olympia Snowe. Now they’re all gone or going, casualties of a Republican party where diplomacy, multilateralism and bipartisanship are dirty words. (A Mourdock ad called Lugar “Obama’s favorite Republican.”)
Scowcroft, the former national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, elaborated in a recent interview with Fareed Zakaria. “I’ve been called a RINO, a Republican in Name Only,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve changed at all. I think the party has moved.”
In March, Hagel was asked, “Do you still consider yourself a Republican?” He responded, “I don’t know what the Republican Party is.”
On the contrary, I’m guessing that the likes of Hagel and Lugar know all too well what the GOP has become.