For Democrats, Indiana was one of the highlights of Election 2006. When the votes were counted last Tuesday night, three GOP congressmen were ousted by Democratic challengers in Indiana. And Democrats took control of Indiana's House of Representatives.
Yet the Dems were unable to even recruit a candidate to run against incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. Why was that?
Over the past two years, Lugar's voting record has been rated as more conservative than that of Sen. Mike DeWine, who was defeated next door in Ohio.
Lugar would have been very tough to beat, but he would have been vulnerable to attack on Iraq and other issues.
Lugar chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which could have played a more aggressive oversight role of Iraq over the past few years. Lugar has been masterful at voicing vague concerns about Iraq and holding regular hearings about it. But most of the 15 "Dear Colleague" letters that Lugar has sent to his fellow senators over the past year are fairly empty.
In these letters, Lugar rarely shares his own ideas or reaches conclusions about Iraq. In one letter this past July, Lugar wrote:
Attached is the statement (Iraqi) Ambassador Khalilzad delivered before the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as a copy of the speech he made on Tuesday, July 11th ...There are "positive developments" that offer "real hope." And there are "several challenges" that have "become more severe." Thanks for clarifying things, senator.
The Ambassador emphasized the “positive developments, which give the Iraqi government and friends of Iraq real hope.” But he also described “several challenges to Iraq’s new government [that] persist or have become more severe and will require adjustments and new efforts to resolve.”
... He listed five efforts that he and his Embassy team are pursuing to stem sectarian violence and bring about stability in Iraq.
I hope you find the Ambassador’s statements helpful as the Congress continues to consider policy options related to Iraq.
The Dems might not have beaten Lugar, but it would have been nice to have given the voters of Indiana another major-party candidate to choose from in last Tuesday's election.