Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Time to Replace Senator Hatch

Ed Koch, who was the Democratic mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, pines (here) for the good old days when there were more “political titans” in both major parties. Although Koch provides a description of a titan (has integrity, but is not perceived as an ideologue), it is difficult to ascertain exactly what he means by the term. I think he mostly means that they remind him of himself in some way.

Koch includes the following as titans: Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Putting this group together seems kind of creepy to me. Look at the company Senator Hatch is keeping. And to Koch, none of these people are ideologues?! Sheesh!

Koch is a fine man, but I disagree with a lot of his political views. So what does it say when a Senator representing Utah (I was about to write, “from Utah,” but that would be inaccurate) merits political praise from the likes of Ed Koch? Maybe voters in Utah would like a senator who is an ideologue on certain issues.

I lamented in a previous post that Senator Hatch is not choosing to retire. Koch’s comments only strengthen my lamentation. I agree with Utah Representative Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) (as stated in this Pignanelli & Webb column) that Hatch has worn out his usefulness to Utah and is now only loosely connected to us bumpkins out here in the west. He truly has become a “creature of Washington.”

Hatch is doing a lot of work in D.C., but is it benefiting Utah? It seems that he is more interested in achieving some kind of personal legacy than in serving Utah. I previously compared him to Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), but at least Byrd works hard to serve West Virginia.

Every time I talk to someone about the possibility of supporting a challenge to Hatch, the first words out of his/her mouth are the mantra that in the U.S. Senate tenure is everything and that, despite Hatch’s faults, Utah wouldn’t want to give up that position of seniority.

Oh, really? Before we go worshipping at the altar of senate seniority, perhaps we should consider what Hatch has done and is doing with that oh-so-precious commodity.

After eight years of leading the Judiciary Committee, it is the most dysfunctional committee in the senate. Hatch’s lackluster use of seniority allowed Utah’s junior senator, Bob Bennett, to quickly surpass Hatch in leadership. (Good for Bennett).

Hatch’s seniority is useful to Utah only if it helps Utah. I don’t see that happening. He loves working on all kinds of bipartisan pet issues that address matters that really aren’t all that important to the average Utahan, as well as some issues that are patently offensive to significant portions of our population. Hatch won’t give the time of day to elected and appointed Utah officials. They don’t merit his attention.

Look folks, it’s time for a change. I saw a horror movie years ago where a bunch of people in an area were turned into some kind of horrible, destructive monsters. Other people were sent into the area to fight them, but if they stayed too long they were affected and turned into monsters themselves. So they learned to go in, do the job quickly, and get out. There were a rare few that had some kind of genetic immunity to the infecting agent that could stay and fight longer. Hatch isn’t one of the latter. He’s one of the former. He’s been in Washington so long that he has become one of “them.”

But it isn’t good enough to simply do an anybody-but-Hatch maneuver here. We need high quality representation. Utah Representative John Dougall (R-American Fork) provides good reasons (here) for supporting Steve Urquhart to challenge Hatch.

While there has been a lot of scuttlebutt about a possible challenge, Urquhart has not yet decided whether to go for it. He knows it would be a David vs. Goliath battle. Hatch’s campaign manager Dave Hansen basically says that Hatch has enough money to squash any contender like a bug. That type of arrogance is what sets titans up for a fall. While I would like to see a good challenger step up to take Hatch down, only Urquhart and his family can determine whether this is the right fight for him or not.


Anonymous said...

As a former Hatch staffer, I add a vigorous "amen!"

Hopefully he will face a serious challenge from the right. Of course, after this next election, he will be due to become chairman of the Finance committee so he can promise plenty of pork for Utah. Just what we and the rest of the country needs.

Ironically, he won as a dark horse candidate suggesting that the incumbent (Frank Moss) had been there too long and that Utah needed some new blood. A current Hatch staffer suggested that Urqhart shoud use those very same ads if he decides to mount a challenge.

Anonymous said...

I think that if yoiu believe Hatch doesn't still serve Utahns then you aren''t paying attention. Check the legislative record - it doesn't lie. Just because Hatch legislates to help the entire country doesn't mean he doesn't help Utah. Just ask Senator Bennett - I was in a town meeting not too long ago and Senator Bennett, by his own admission said, "Make no mistake, the Senior Senator does a great deal of the heavy lifting." In 30 years Hatch has done more to help the country AND UTAH then any senator who has ever represented the state. It would take a "fresh" senator two terms to do what Hatch can do in one.