It's come to this: I feel sorry for Sen. Bob Bennett.
It took some doing. He has done much I disagree with. He was a bagman during the Watergate conspiracy. He supported President Bush's insane wars and fiscally irresponsible tax cuts. He supports drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
But, criminy, I hate to see the guy ripped unfairly.
He's a nice guy. He's smart. He's even reasonable, occasionally.
That's the problem. Tea Party people are driving the opposition and they don't want reasonable. They want purity. They want Bennett to follow what they have decided are the Founding Fathers' intentions in the Constitution. They're packing party caucuses and have a lot of politicians scared.
How scared? Tea Party people are organized around TV entertainer Glenn Beck's 9/12 Project. At a Weber 9/12 meeting last week, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop was asked why he supports Bennett for re-election. Bishop said it is only because Bennett asked and "I gave my word."
If Bennett were to release him from that promise, he said, he would probably "do something else."
Wow, Rob, way to defend a pal. But Bishop agrees with many of Bennett's stands, which were good for Utah.
Tea Partiers are apoplectic over Bennett's vote for the $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) that President Bush rammed through.
I didn't like TARP. Bennett didn't like TARP. Nobody with a brain liked TARP, and Bishop did vote against it.
But TARP was an emergency appendectomy. Without TARP, the economy would have ruptured.
Yes, TARP saved fatcat Wall Street scum. But the finance industry, fed by years of federal deregulation, is massive. If it goes under, all your investments, pension funds, retirement funds, corporate equity and business lines of credit would go "Poof!"
And now banks are repaying TARP money with interest.
More strangely, the 9/12 Project reams Bennett for voting for agriculture appropriations because "federal food subsidies are not within the proper role of government."
Serious federal food subsidies began during the Depression, when Utah was almost totally agricultural and had 33 percent unemployment. Utah agriculture is worth nearly $1 billion today and is a major player in many counties, especially Box Elder. Bennett voting against agriculture would be like Bishop voting against ATK Space Systems.
Bennett is criticized for getting earmarks. Both Bennett and Bishop have gotten Utah plenty of earmarks.
Bishop's office told me last year there's often no other way to get needed money. Remember Jay Leno joking about Mormon crickets? Kill that earmark, be ready to skoosh a few trillion crickets by hand. Yuk.
I am angry at Bennett for failing to support health care reform.
I know, Tea Partiers say reform is socialized medicine. Oddly, I've not seen any of them burn their own or their parents' Medicare cards and offer to pay the medical bills.
Quite the opposite: Along with saying we need to quit taking federal money, Bishop said he would work to restore federal Medicare cuts. The crowd cheered, although those goals strike me as contradictory.
Meanwhile, Bennett has 364,000 uninsured Utahns begging for help. With his history (he pushed his own health reform bill), he may have even wanted to help them.
Sadly, he chose to please people who will not be pleased. Those people have a purity test Abraham Lincoln would flunk.
Abe used federal power to tell individual states what they could do. He took away personal property, too, by executive order, blatantly ignoring Congress, the socialist!
Guess he forgot the Founding Fathers, in the Constitution, approved of slavery.
The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can reach him at (801) 625-4232, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.