That Lamar Alexander is just so mean. It’s bad enough Tennessee’s senior U.S. senator has refused calls from the level-headed folks in the tea party for him to retire, now Alexander is raising a massive campaign war chest that’s bound to make the Republican nearly invincible when he seeks re-election next year.
He’s just a bipartisanship-loving, moderate-leaning bully. (Don’t forget, Alexander even played a key role in President Obama’s inauguration ceremony earlier this year — aghast!) And you know what that means in tea party vernacular — Lamar’s a big-government LIBERAL. He left the RINO tag in the rear-view mirror many re-elections ago.
We should have seen this coming last year when he stepped down as Republican whip in the Senate. Alexander said he wanted to be free to pursue issues (such as energy, education and health care) that often see his positions differ from those of some of his Republican brethren. Alexander says he wants to go his own way. That sounds like something a Democrat would say.
I know there are some who would argue Alexander is simply following in the footsteps of his political mentor, former U.S. Sen. (and Reagan chief of staff) Howard Baker Jr. That’s fine, but I doubt someone with Baker’s moderate credentials could win a statewide GOP primary for an open seat today. Baker actually worked well with Democrats when he was in office. That’s just not acceptable to tea partiers in 2013.
A coalition of 20 tea party groups sent Alexander a letter recently in which they took Alexander to the woodshed for his uppity bipartisan ways.
“Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous,” the letter states.
Given Alexander’s refusal to do the right thing for the good of an uncompromising America, tea partiers had no choice but to go out and find a champion to challenge him in the Republican Primary. State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, announced last week he will be the tea party’s David going against the political Goliath that Alexander is. There’s a video posted on the Internet (http://youtu.be/5SZCt_m8M9w) showing Carr nonchalantly removing his chewing gum while addressing the news media. This single act demonstrates the candidate’s down-home style and political courage.
The latter is a trait missing from other Republicans in this state. When Carr announced he was abandoning his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-4th, in the next Republican primary, his campaign manager for that congressional race, former state GOP Chairman Chip Saltsman, resigned and said he would have no part in challenging Alexander. Other high-ranking Republican leaders across Tennessee have said the same.
What are they afraid of? Why can’t they understand that compromise leads to big-government socialism? Thank goodness the tea party hasn’t been corrupted by such nonsense. It sees things clearly.
Robert Houk is Opinion page editor for the Johnson City Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.