It’s easy to offend people. As local author Terry Tempest Williams said, “Every time you pick up your pencil, you betray someone.”
And it is even easier to ruffle feathers as a politician. Humorist Jimmy Fallon noted last week, “Mitt Romney went three for three by winning primaries in Maryland, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C. Not to be outdone, Rick Santorum went three for three by offending women, atheists, and Latinos.”
Orrin Hatch’s re-election bid can be seen similarly. In office since Methuselah was a tyke, Hatch has had a long period and thousands of speeches in which to offend someone.
This year his main opponent is Bountiful business owner, Dan Liljenquist, unknown to most of the state. That’s an advantage for Liljenquist since we cannot be offended by someone we’ve never heard of.
Forget all the campaign talk about experience and super PACs and Liljenquist’s work on state benefit issues. The key to this election, according to an extensive Cyclops poll, is the “Offensive Scale.”
Thirty-two percent are offended that Hatch has been a U.S. senator for 36 years. These are made up of people who either don’t understand the importance of seniority in getting things done or feel that their neighbor next door and the grocery store butcher deserve a chance.
Generally, these people are naive about politics – and don’t realize that neighborhood butcher might be an idiot.
Eleven percent are offended that Hatch shook hands with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. They want their elected officials to be pure and stubborn, refusing to associate with evil-doers of the other political party. These are the same people who make us wince when they stand up in church meetings and say stupid things.
Seven percent are offended that Hatch derided gays in a speech in St. George and more recently said his “Father in Heaven” wanted him to run for office. These people are predominately Democrats who wouldn’t vote for Hatch even if the other candidate were Josh Powell. Hatch shouldn’t worry about these voters.
Three percent are offended by Hatch’s song writing. These people won’t vote on Election Day; most will be drinking beer in karaoke bars.
Twenty-two percent are offended that Hatch is a liberal cloaked in conservative clothing, a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Most of these people were born on Mars.
Add these up and Orrin Hatch has offended a majority of Utahns at some point in time. Then again, so has Barack Obama, Jay Leno, the average retail clerk, and the guy driving next to you in the left lane on the freeway.
The bottom line is that Hatch did very well in turning out his supporters at the GOP caucus meetings; Liljenquist even lost his own neighborhood caucus. Give Liljenquist time and he’ll offend someone too.
At this point, it’s too close to call, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hatch is forced into a primary election by Liljenquist. It won’t make any difference. Don’t be offended, but Sen. Hatch will be re-elected in November.