It appears increasingly likely that Senator Richard Lugar will not be the senior U.S. senator from Indiana when the next Congress is sworn in. After 36 years on the job, he is running behind in a tough primary. His opponent's main knock on Lugar is that he has been in Washington too long and been infected with the incumbency virus.
To many, this is always a compelling argument. Anyone who has served in Congress so long that he can navigate Washington, D.C. without a roadmap needs to return home and go back to doing honest work.
Now Senator Lugar, who is a gentleman, doesn't deserve to be run out of town on a rail. A seat in business class would be more fitting. But even if he is defeated in the primary and his career in the Senate should come to a not-at-all-premature end, he may not be leaving Washington or the great game.
Headhunters said Lugar could make more than $1 million per year if he chose to work full-time at a government affairs or lobby firm, and could pull in $250,000 annually in a part-time role, perhaps for as little as one day of work a week.
The fact that Lugar could make that kind of money if he stays in town may be the best argument, yet, for term limits and, failing that, for a citizens' movement urging people to vote against any and every incumbent is running for a third term, regardless of party affiliation or record. Otherwise, we can look forward to the labors of enterprises like the …
Bipartisan Policy Center, a group co-founded by former Senate Majority Leaders Mitchell, Bob Dole (R-Kan.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) that focuses on finding bipartisan solutions to policy problems.
And the hard work of people like former senator and majority leader Trent Lott, now a high salaried, high powered Washington insider, who said of the people elected in the 2010 anti-Washington election:
As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.
One wishes, devoutly, that all these time serving insiders would just go home when they lose an election or decide to retire and spend more time with their families.
But, then, Washington is their home. And that is the problem.