Monday, May 17, 2010

Defending Hatch

Regular readers know that I like politicians, as a group, and that includes hack pols.  So it isn't just knee-jerk contrarianism at work when I say: c'mon, Steven Benen and Matt Yglesias, give Orrin Hatch a break. 

The story, if you've missed it...It seems that Hatch went  on the radio and (horrors) inveighed against The Washington Establishment on behalf of the little folks such as, well, himself.  Now, Yglesias and Benen found that ridiculous (something about how Hatch has been in the Senate since Bobby  -- not Barry -- Bobby Bonds was only on his second team, which for you non-baseball fans is also known as since Hector was a pup).  And, of course, it is.  But so what?  That's what politicians do.  In fact, Richard Fenno's discussion of Members of Congress who run for re-election by running against Congress predates Hatch's Senate career. 

Benen's second point, I think, is also on the weak side.  He thinks it's unfair of Hatch to bash the current administration, when after all it was Republicans in the previous decade, Hatch included, who botched everything up so much.  Well, yes...but again, what else is Hatch going to say?  Voters may choose to buy it or not, but it's hardly unreasonable of someone in the out-party to blame the in-party for all manner of troubles.  That's how it works. 

I do think that Hatch acts the partisan hack pretty often -- but I like the ability to do that in a politician.  Surely, he's no more so than Bob Dole or Ted Kennedy, and both of them were (in my opinion, I guess I should say) first-rate Senators.  Now, Hatch is a bit too sanctimonious for my tastes, but on the whole I think he's been a fairly serious Senator over the years.  At least when the cameras are looking the other way.  He just saw the junior (ha!) Senator from his state get trounced.  Seems to me he's exactly correct to do a little rabble-rousing, and what he said was about as harmless as it gets.  I suppose it's also part of the game that liberals will give him grief for it, but in my view there are plenty of pols handling the current tides within the GOP a lot less reasonably, and they're the ones who deserve the snark.


  1. Well this is a shocker. You like it when a politician panders and acts the partisan hack? Surely they ALL do it but shouldn't they be called on it? Which, I might add, is a time honored political tradition going back to the days of Puck. You can't have one without the other.

    If you like the wankery then you must accept, and embrace, the snarkitude because it all is part of the game.

    Me, I'm sick of games. Games were all fine and dandy when it was just so much puppet theater. But we've got not one but TWO wars going on, one nearly a decade old; we have people in desperate need of work, a shrinking middle class, and a planet in need of attention. We are facing some unprecedented challenges on the energy front, our production has moved beyond our borders. We're dealing with some serious stuff and I think most of the country is tired of the politics-as-game stuff. We need people who want to roll up their sleeves and get to work. I don't think Orrin Hatch is that guy.

  2. Hey. The 76 Angels were a decent team, and Bobby added some punch to the lineup. He done good for the Angels and I've never forgiven Bavasi for trading him away. Why did the Autrys bring Buzzie Bavasi over from the Dodgers anyway? That was a dumb move, one of many, way too many.

    Good catch, on that "junior" Senator from Utah.

    But c'mon. Us partisans can't have a big laugh at old straight-arrow, (as you say) sanctimonious, Orrin "activist judges" Hatch for hearting the teabaggers and claiming that he's not "of Washington." He must be *really, really* worried about getting thrown out that Senator job of his, the one that he, eh, doesn't like that much. ROTFLMFAO. Literally.

  3. "Hatch is a bit too sanctimonious for my tastes, but on the whole I think he's been a fairly serious Senator over the years."

    Yeah, right - for example, when he figured out new methods of 'fillibustering' judicial nominations during the Clinton administration, and then got all sanctimonious about 'up or down votes' during the Bush administration?

    He's a lying wh*reson, and got caught in an undeniable, simple lie. Time to pile on, and hope to crack a few ribs.

  4. Barry, and I guess everyone...what you're citing there is of course part of being a partisan hack, which sometimes involves embracing a procedural trick when it helps you and condemning it if when it doesn't. I think you'll find that such actions are not limited to one party. As I said, I'm a fan of those who can do it well -- especially those who can do that sort of thing and also do serious legislating. Now, obviously, Democrats are going to take every opportunity to defeat "good" Republican hacks, as well they should. But while as a citizen I'm going to support the partisan hacks on my side and oppose those on the other side, as a student of politics I'm going to admire those who are good at it.

  5. Jon,
    It is in the nature of the pol to make the rather silly claims Hatch is making. Fine.
    However, if we are actually holding to this whole "voters get to choose in free and fair elections whether to accept these claims" notion, then there is nothing wrong with journalists/bloggers attacking the arguments our politicians make. And, in these cases, Hatch is being more than a little disingenuous. I see nothing wrong in calling him on it. It won't amount to a hill of beans, anyway. Hatch's reelection fortunes and behaviors do not depend on the opinions of Benen and Yglesias. Or Bernstein. Or most definitely those of Jarvis.

  6. Well Johnathon, that is simply baffling to me.

    Hackery might be the dirty underbelly of real domestic politics, and using it well might be a necessary skill set - but admiring it is like admiring those Flyer teams that won Stanley Cups in the 70's by repeatedly scoring the winning goal with one of their goons not only in the crease, but actually mugging the goal tender.

    Maybe I'm naive, but I'm not going to admire an activity that is 180 degrees away from ethics and responsible governance.

    Also - what Beale said.



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