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Sen. Hatch joins Lee on the low road

Published December 8, 2012 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Orrin, you broke my heart.

You just won re-election to a seventh term and have earned the distinction of being the longest-serving current member of the U.S. Senate. It might have cost you millions of dollars to beat back the tea-party enthusiasts who knocked off your colleague Bob Bennett two years ago, but you did it, and rightfully freed yourself of the tethers the right-wingers have placed on Republican elected officials.

You don't need them.

Sen. Hatch, you had a choice after the election to use your seventh term to be a statesman, working with the White House and legislators in both parties to find solutions to the numerous pressing issues the country is facing.

You could be the negotiator and the fair-minded conservative working with liberals to find middle-ground remedies like you have done so admirably in the past.

Or you could be like your junior colleague, Sen. Mike Lee, who in less than two years has earned the title in many circles as an embarrassment to Utah, with his bomb-throwing opposition to everything and his pandering to the extremists in the party, who analysts blame for the Republican debacle in the 2012 elections.

I had high hopes for a return to your statesman's persona.

Instead, at least so far, you have chosen to take the low road.

The first indication of your continued umbilical attachment to the tea party extremists to whom you had to pander to get through the Republican convention and primary was your unnecessary and wildly inaccurate claim that the Obama Administration skewered Mitt Romney's LDS religion during the campaign.

Who, Sen. Hatch, other than you and your imaginary friend Chester saw or heard any evidence of that? It was nothing more than let's-all-hate-Obama mind candy to the wackos in your party that you don't need any more.

Then there was the irresponsible statement that the U.S. should cut funding to the U.N. because we didn't like a vote on Palestine.

But the worst example, and most inexcusable, was your vote in the Senate against the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

Voting against that treaty and becoming one of the 38 Republican senators able to block it from gaining the necessary two-thirds vote was a slap in the face to your long-time party leader, 89-year-old former Sen. Bob Dole, who was ushered onto the floor of the Senate in his wheelchair to show support for the treaty.

The treaty simply extends to other nations the protections of disabled people through the Americans with Disabilities Act that you, Sen. Hatch, voted for 22 years ago. The treaty was negotiated by your friend, former President George W. Bush, and had strong bipartisan support.

But it was opposed by the Home School Legal Defense Association, a tea-party affiliated group teeming with unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

When your opposed the Dream Act that you once had sponsored, it was understandable because you had to get past your Republican challenger in the primary, so you had to cater to those who hate the Dream Act.

When you denounced compromising with Democrats — even though you had pushed through landmark legislation protecting senior citizens by teaming with liberal Congressman Henry Waxman of California and admirably secured health care for disadvantaged children through your work with liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy — you had to pander to the Democrat haters in your party to get through the primary.

There is no excuse now, though. You won. And you took the low road.

You broke my heart. —




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