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In Bob Bennett's loss, accountability hits Congress

Staunchly Republican and staunchly conservative Sen. Robert Bennett (Utah) failed to win his party's nomination to run for a third term over the weekend. The stunning defeat was certainly a victory for the Tea Party movement, although folks seem a little split on the victory's significance. Ruth Marcus nicely lays out why Bennett went down in defeat. He had the nerve to vote for President Bush's Troubled Assets Relief Program (which helped save the economy, by the way) and the temerity to work with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on a health-care reform bill.

But Amy Gardner in The Post yesterday added this interesting tidbit. "[Bennett] is also a close adviser to McConnell," Gardner wrote referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), "and he sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which opened him to blame for ballooning government spending." That last line -- opened him to blame for ballooning government spending -- is what jumped out at me.

President Obama has been fond of reminding everyone that he inherited a wrecked economy and yawning deficits. In the past, he's dubbed the Republicans "the folks who created the mess" as he pushed and defended policies that added to Americans' financial fears. So Bennett's defeat is the first time that a powerful, entrenched, conservative Republican has been held accountable by other conservative Republicans for the profligate spending in Washington. And it's just more proof that the electorate is mad as hell and that incumbents on either side of the aisle should fear the November midterm elections.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 10, 2010; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Just a point of factual correction. Senator Bennett was running for his fourth, not third term. FYI.

Posted by: fej81 | May 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan,
When will the media start referring to the "Tea Party wing" of the Republican Party. This is the only political party where they are active and, given that they make up only 2% of the electorate, probably the only party they could control.

They are forcing the Republican party on a further rightward march which I feel is not where the independents (or the nation) want to go. Given the presence and power of the religious right in this party, how is it that Republicans become a national party again? How can they win national elections with so many extremist hoops for the candidate to jump through before he/she appeals to the more moderate national electorate?

Posted by: BobSanderson | May 10, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"Certainly a victory for the Tea Party movement"?

But I'm confused. We all know the Tea Party is really about racism (after all Capehart says so!), and I'm pretty sure Bennett's as white as the cliffs of Dover.

Posted by: mj13 | May 10, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"Certainly a victory for the Tea Party movement"?
*******
Bennett was kicked out by the way of convention, not by Utah's electorate so I don't know how much of a "victory" it is for the Tea Party.

Posted by: creatia52 | May 10, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I think Mr. Capehart got this one right. Good show! November could very well be a harsh month for all incumbents running this year.

Posted by: FlyFish59 | May 10, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

In my part of California the feelings seem to be that regardless of party any incumbent should be voted out of office. Fair or not, the voters right now are incensed about some actions taken by the Congress and right now they are prepared to show that at the polls.

Posted by: npsilver | May 10, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse


Excellent observations Mr. Capehart.

Yes, we Americans (including tip of the iceberg tea partiers) are mad as he11, and we are NOT taking it anymore !

Thank you Repubs in Utah !

Posted by: DiscerningCitizen | May 11, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

One thing you left out of your analysis was Bennett's history of earmarks. This boy was glued to the pork barrel. Granted, the money has going to Utah but this is the problem that incumbents ignore. Enough is enough. Stop spending what we don't have.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | May 11, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

President Obama has been fond of reminding everyone that he inherited a wrecked economy and yawning deficits. In the past, he's dubbed the Republicans "the folks who created the mess" as he pushed and defended policies that added to Americans' financial fears. So Bennett's defeat is the first time that a powerful, entrenched, conservative Republican has been held accountable by other conservative Republicans for the profligate spending in Washington. And it's just more proof that the electorate is mad as hell and that incumbents on either side of the aisle should fear the November midterm elections.

========================================

This is the best, most spot-on paragraph Capeheart has written in a long time.

Posted by: bbface21 | May 11, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

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