This is no time to turn into a mensch

Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn, a Republican who was not up for reelection yesterday, issued a statement today that said, essentially, We blew it.

This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism.... Our short-term, politically-expedient, bread and circus governing philosophy has failed.
For about five minutes I thought, Hey, now there's an honorable man.

Something similar happened vis-a-vis Lincoln Chafee, the Rhode Island senator who lost his seat yesterday. Chafee voted against the Iraq war resolution, unlike most of the Democrats. In 2004 he announced that he hadn't voted for George W. Bush's reelection, instead writing in the name of the president's father. In a very Democratic state, 66 percent of his constituents said he was doing a good job on the same day they voted decisively to replace him. For a little while, I felt kind of sorry for Lincoln Chafee.

But y'know, I got over it. Chafee was one of the few genuinely moderate Republicans left. He may only have been a Republican at all because of family tradition. But he had six years of Bush-Cheney-Lott-Frist in which to do what his ally Jim Jeffords did: declare himself an independent and begin caucusing with the Democrats. His constituents would have loved him for it. Instead, at the beginning of every session, he voted to let the worst people in the country run his branch of government. It was the most important vote he cast, more important than the Iraq vote, and now he's paying the price for it, and so he should.

Similarly: Tom Coburn is entitled to tell the American people how venal and opportunistic his party is, on the day after an election when they've lost control of Congress. But honorable would have been doing it the week before.