Sure, Bennett earned a respectable 93 percent approval rating among Republican primary voters and garnered similar high rankings among conservative watchdog groups throughout his career. But what did he DO with his position? Did he lead in any way? Or was he simply marking time?
Perhaps Bennett deluded himself into thinking he was okay by just showing up to work every day and waving the conservative banner with feigned righteousness. His comments Saturday perhaps betrayed that behavior: "Looking back on [the votes I cast], with one or two very minor exceptions," recalled the Senator, "I wouldn't have cast them any differently even if I'd known at the time it would cost me my career."
That attitude was the last straw to Utah voters. And it should signal to other Republican incumbents that the most important notion of "public service" rests in that second word -- "service." We have enough loafers sitting around their government desks, getting fat off the taxpayer dime. By God, we don't need any more on Capitol Hill doing the same.
Be careful of how Democrats choose to spin this tale. DNC Chairman and his liberal comrades want non-aligned voters to see Bennett's loss as part of a conspiratorial intifada. "That the Tea Party would consider Bob Bennett -- one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate," said Gov. Kaine on Saturday, "too liberal just goes to show how extreme the Tea Party is. If there was any question before, there should now be no doubt that the Republican leadership has handed the reins to the Tea Party."
Kaine says what he needs to as party head, even though he knows better. Sen. Bennett's loss began and ended with Bob Bennett. If he was savvy enough, he and his handlers could have prevented this loss back in 2007 and '08. The lesson of Salt Lake wasn't so much that the Tea Party is a force to be reckoned with. We knew that in the wake of New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. No, the lesson of Salt Lake is: "Don't take your elected position for granted. To whom much is given, much is required." Voters today want action, not sound bites, and they're willing to oust any incumbent, no matter his legacy, to uncover it.