Political watchers in Tennessee understandably might have been puzzled over the weekend by the Washington Post's characterization of Lamar Alexander as gallantly standing up to the tea party and refusing to run away from his moderate record in the Senate.
Yes, he's been trying to explain his votes for reopening the government and for the immigration bill and the farm bill. What else can he do? But otherwise, he's been racing to the right in pathetic and increasingly ridiculous pandering to the tea party that's revolting and almost sad to see.
Today, less than 24 hours after tea party challenger Joe Carr assailed Alexander for not calling for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebilius to quit, Alexander went to the Senate floor to demand her resignation over Obamacare. A bristling Alexander pretended to care whether the insurance exchange website works and babbled oddly like your crazy uncle about nuclear submarines and Admiral Hyman Rickover. The senator said:
No private sector chief executive officer would escape accountability after such a poor performance. And the principle of accountability is not foreign to the public sector. Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear navy, told his submarine captains that they were not only accountable for their ships, but they were also accountable for the nuclear reactor on their ships. If anything went wrong with the reactor, their career in the Navy was over, the Admiral said. As a result of that dose of accountability, since the 1950’s there never has been a death as a result of a problem with a naval submarine reactor. Americans deserve that kind of accountability in the implementation of the new health care law.
Update: Carr says Alexander acted only under pressure, not out of principle.
“I’m glad that Senator Alexander has reversed his position and now admits I was right," he said. "But its unfortunate he only did the right thing after political pressure. Unlike Senator Alexander, I’ll fight for our conservatives principles from day one.”