Dick Lugar's legendary Senate career came crashing to an end last night, and NPR laments that he was ironically "undone by his greatest strength." There were many reasons Tea Partier Richard Mourdock prevailed—Lugar is 80, ran a bad campaign, and was attacked for not owning a house in Indiana, among others—but perhaps none were so decisive as the typically collegial friendship he formed with a promising young senator named Barack Obama.
Lugar saw in Obama a kindred spirit on nuclear disarmament and foreign policy. That relationship became an albatross for Lugar—attack ads derided him as "Obama's favorite Republican." Admirers say that's an outrage. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel says senators "used to be proud" of their relationships with presidents. "That we have gotten to the point where that's devalued, where it's a liability, is astounding to me." But opponents say Lugar was simply out of touch. Voters "don't want milquetoast solutions anymore," said one conservative operative.