Three Cheers for Thad Cochran

It’s a good thing the old school senator won, and a bad thing that it was so difficult.

Cochran believes in limited government, not no government.

By Peter FennJune 25, 2014 | 5:05 p.m. EDT+ More  USNEWS & WORLD REPORT THOMAS JEFFERSON STREET BLOG

I was rooting for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran yesterday. I know, I know, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and many told me that the “best” thing that could happen would be for tea party candidate Chris McDaniel to win the runoff. Then we might have won in November.

I doubt it.

But regardless of the politics of the general election, it seemed to me that there were larger issues at stake. I could eat my words in November, I suppose, if Republicans take over the Senate by one vote and Mississippi could have made the difference.

[SEE: Cartoons about the Republican Party]

You see, I fundamentally don’t think it’s good for the country or the political parties to degenerate into a collection of candidates who are so extreme they make Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan look like flaming liberals. Whether the issue is immigration reform, paying our debts, providing a federal budget, or a whole host of concerns such as education, transportation, agriculture, health and safety, these new extremists don’t believe in a federal role. In short, they do not believe much in government at all.

They claim the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and “remaking America,” but nearly every move they make is intent on destroying what has worked. This is the least pragmatic or problem-solving crowd I have ever experienced.

So I look with some affection at a man like Thad Cochran whose desire is to see government, limited as it might be, work for people.

The good news for the Republic is that he won; the sad state of affairs is that it was so narrow, as were so many other victories by plain, hard core conservatives yesterday.

[GALLERY: Cartoons on the tea party]

I do have fond memories of a diverse and vibrant Republican Party with the likes of Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, Ed Brooke, Tom Kuchel, Everett Dirksen, Mac Mathias, John Sherman Cooper, Margaret Chase Smith and Mark Hatfield, just to name a few. There were Senators who worked across the aisle, who accomplished great things, whose beliefs were different, but who knew that compromise was not a four letter word.

That is not what we have today, particularly with the crowd of angry, negative, inexperienced candidates that the tea party has spawned.

So I am pleased that Cochran won, and sad that it was so difficult.