Lisa Murkowski: Getting Back at Tea Party? Or Vindicating Them?

Under the headline “MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE NICER TO MURKOWSKI,” Steve Benen catalogs Lisa Murkowski’s spate of votes as the lone Republican siding with Democrats:  gays in the military, the DREAM Act, and New START.   And she’s now urging her colleagues to give up on trying to repeal ObamaCare and get on with legislation they have a chance of passing.

Says Steve, “I don’t imagine all of this will be well received by Republican leaders, but don’t forget, Murkowski not only doesn’t care, she actually has an incentive to annoy them.”

But this is exactly why she got primaried in the first place!  She was never a reliable Republican vote and, as befitting someone originally handed her job by her daddy, was dismissive towards Alaska Republicans who scoffed.   No wonder Joe Miller seemed so attractive.

(And I say that as someone who agrees with Murkowski on all four of the issues in the lead paragraph.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Murkowski has a lifetime ACU rating of 70.19, so I wouldn’t exactly call her a squish or even a moderate.

  2. James Joyner says:

    70 is fairly low, no? Isn’t McCain in the 90s?

  3. Kylopod says:

    But it’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation. Lieberman was not reliable before his departure from the Dems (though, in fact, he was more reliable than is popularly believed), but he obviously became worse after being primaried out of the party. As far as I can remember, Murkowski didn’t bitch about the Republican opposition to Obamacare back when it was being passed.

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    Why can’t we just trade politicians like in sports?

  5. john personna says:

    “(And I say that as someone who agrees with Murkowski on all four of the issues in the lead paragraph.)”

    How ironic.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @jp: I find Murkowski annoying for reasons other than ideology. But she’s in a solid Republican state and thus ripe for pick-off in the primaries by a more solidly conservative candidate.

    In this case, Miller was a well-credentialed fellow but, as it turned out, a loon.

  7. Pug says:

    Well she won’t be looking at any primaries for at least six years now.

  8. An Interested Party says:

    “Well she won’t be looking at any primaries for at least six years now.”

    The same cannot be said about the two senators from Maine…

  9. michael reynolds says:

    She’s getting back at the Tea Party by being a responsible Senator. A damned, dirty trick if you ask me.

  10. rrr says:

    “She’s getting back at the Tea Party by being a responsible Senator. A damned, dirty trick if you ask me.”

    Of course, Michael left out that his definition of “responsible” is “anything that Michael Reynolds thinks.”

  11. DaveP. says:

    If she was all that “reliable” of a Republican vote, she would’ve accepted the verdict of her primary that her party had lost faith in her. Instead, she went ‘independant’ for the seat she had been gifted by her father and felt she had a right to.
    Thanks, Murkowski voters, for helping to perpetuate the worst kind of political dynasty-building. Hope that pork tastes goood.

  12. Brian Macker says:

    These are not Tea Party issues: ” gays in the military, the DREAM Act, and New START. ”

    Only Obamacare is.

  13. oic says:

    I find the ACU scoring very unreliable. Ppl I find in no way a conservative, still core in the 80s

  14. G Fawkes says:

    I think the TEA party is agnostic on social issues- their big issues are fiscal discipline and government overreach

    BURN IT ALL DOWN AND START OVER (but that’s just me)

  15. P. Aaron says:

    You Alaskans are lucky you don’t suffer political schizophrenia like we do in Michigan. Plus, we’re stuck with 2 Dem senators that vote to kill manufacturing & then promise laid-off people ‘job-training’.

  16. Your blog ad makes your blog post unreadable, at least to me.

  17. Calvin Dodge says:

    I have the same experience as Michael Kennedy (blog ad shifts enough left to cover right edge of your column) in both Firefox and Chrome (I’m running Linux, so I can’t check it in IE).

  18. Jonathan Card says:

    And on Safari on Mac.

    Independents can have her. If she doesn’t win in the Republican primary, she’s not a Republican representative. I say be happy when she votes with us, but she’s not worth worrying about when she doesn’t.

  19. Cars says:

    James Joyner: out of curiosity and nothing else, how did Miller turn out to be a “loon”? Although he was to the right of Murkowski, I thought the only issue in Alaska was that the write-in overwhelmed him and he lost. It was Christine O’Donnell in MD who got the “loon” tag. What did I miss?

    And, btw, I have the same reported issue as some other posters here — the ad columns overlay the story and the comments in Opera. Readable for me, though, because I’ve got a “kill” button that lets me select and kill HTML blocks.

  20. Porkov says:

    Same story with the blogad here. It’s covering up the whole right side of the article. How ironic.

  21. Calvin Dodge says:

    I suspect Lisa will live up to Simon Cameron’s definition of an honest politician, as she showers taxpayer money on the businesses which helped her buy the election.

  22. PTL says:

    Murkowski is for Murkowski. Have money will travel. That family has always been for sale. Alaska and the U.S. be damned. The people of Alaska got what they deserve. The rest of us got screwed.

  23. SmokeVanThorn says:

    Hardlly surprising to see Mataconis flacking for Murkowski – birds of a feather

  24. skink says:

    “Hardlly surprising to see Mataconis flacking for Murkowski – birds of a feather”

    Yup – and those birds are vultures

  25. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    It’s ironic that Murkowski’s behavior will only strengthen the Tea Party in 2012. She has done more to help their cause than Miller could have possibly done.

  26. JD says:

    Little Lisa now owes her soul to the Native Corporations. It will be interesting to see how she tries to pay off her debt. As far as anyone in Alaska getting “what they deserved” well thank the crossovers for that. When given a choice of their own candidate, who had no chance, and Miller who was linked to the Tea Party, they went for Murkowski for the spoil.

  27. Murkowski deserved and deserves to be tossed out because her campaign was based on lies and ex post facto manipulation and cronyism. She oozed contempt for the voters and the democratic process. She is marginally better tham Al Franken.

  28. Paul A'Barge says:

    Um …
    >> “And I say that as someone who agrees with Murkowski on all four of the issues in the lead paragraph.”

    You’re not in favor of repealing Obamacare?

    And you like the DREAM act?

  29. James Joyner says:


    I’m not in favor of a prolonged farce. Republicans don’t have the votes to pass ObamaCare repeal in the Senate, much less override Obama’s veto. So, a quick show vote is fine. But, beyond that, it’s grandstanding.

    As to the DREAM Act, there are parts I don’t love. But the general idea — that kids who’ve grown up in America and excelled here shouldn’t be deported to some country they’ve never known because their parents violated our immigration laws years earlier — is unassailable. Especially when you add on a requirement to serve in the military or graduate college. What possible value would we derive from throwing those people out?

  30. Denny, Alaska says:

    Up here we call her “Ol’ Bug Eyes.” Uh, not fondly.

  31. LoboSolo says:

    The blog looks fine to me.

    Safar 4.13 and Camino 2.06
    Mac OS X 10.4.11

    All well, Alaska has to live with her … Maybe the AIP will gain more traction before its over …

  32. gs says:

    I was really impressed when I first saw Miller’s resume, but:

    Among other things, Joe Miller misused government computers for political purposes; initially lied about it when confronted by his superiors; and unsuccessfully sued to keep the information from being revealed during the campaign.

    It’s not easy to lose a statewide election to a write-in candidate, but Miller accomplished it.

    Miller seems so nixonian that I wonder if the Democrat would have won if Murkowski had not run as an independent.

    Hopefully candidates like Miller are nothing worse than growing pains for the Tea Party.

  33. Fred says:

    Re the Dream Act. 1 I hardly think that taking two years of college equates to military service and 2, the Act does not require you to “graduate college” it only requires short term attendance…