Politicians on the Far Right, seeking to turn the Republican Party into an uncompromising, unquestioning cause in their own image, sought to silence Dick Lugar's voice of moderation, promising that Indiana still would send a Republican to the Senate.
And, of course, Republicans would gain control of the Senate because of all the "sure win" seats at stake in other states as well as in Indiana in 2012. No more the hated Harry Reid as Senate majority leader.
Lugar lost in the Republican primary after the Far Right cause poured in millions of dollars to destroy his long-time image as a statesman and portray him as not even a Hoosier.
Alas, the man hired by the Far Right cause to take his place, Richard Mourdock, was indeed uncompromising, unquestioning but also unelectable. Democrat Joe Donnelly now holds the seat that Lugar almost certainly would have won if renominated.
Just as in 2010, when Republicans lost "sure win" Senate seats, including another creature of the Far Right cause losing to Reid in Nevada, more "sure win" chances were blown last fall.
And Lugar hasn't been silenced.
In an address at Duke University that drew a lot of attention last week, Lugar excoriated the forces of uncompromising, unquestioning partisanship that hurt his party's election chances, help to stalemate Congress and even threaten national security.
He said politicization of national security policy is apparent in former Sen. Chuck Hagel's difficulties with confirmation as secretary of defense.
A Democrat with Hagel's qualifications "would have been confirmed with relatively little controversy," Lugar said, but because Hagel, as a Republican senator, questioned some of the policies of his more conservative colleagues, they seek revenge. He said the intensity of opposition to Hagel "is grounded in the resentments of some conservatives inside and outside the Senate who regard his independent thinking as political blasphemy."
Lugar also cited "perhaps the most potent force driving partisanship." He said it is the rise of "a massive industry that makes money off of political discord." In that money-making industry, he said, are "cable news networks, talk radio shows, partisan think tanks, direct mail fundraisers, innumerable web sites and blogs, social media and gadfly candidates and commentators." Some may be "true believers," Lugar said, but others just seek a profit in "appealing to prejudices and fears."
In a follow-up interview with NBC political analyst Chuck Todd, Lugar said that for Republicans finally to gain a Senate majority, the GOP needs to nominate "able candidates that appeal not just to core Republicans, but to independents and even some Democratic crossovers."
He didn't name them, but he obviously meant selection of nominees other than such losers as Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Todd Akin in Missouri and Mourdock.
Did the right candidate win for the Senate in Indiana last fall?
"Oh, I'm not going to comment on that," Lugar responded.
But he said Mourdock "made some very egregious errors" and helped to drag down the whole Republican ticket in Indiana, with Gov. Mike Pence, once way ahead, winning narrowly and with state school Superintendent Tony Bennett, "a good man," going down to defeat.
There's no doubt where Lugar stands in the current dispute between Chris Chocola and Karl Rove. Chocola's Club for Growth seeks to "purify" the GOP by getting rid of voices of moderation. Rove contends that the party should back candidates who can win, even if they are not uncompromising followers of the Far Right cause.
Lugar, though he often strongly opposed proposals of President Obama, declined to join in partisan rhetoric of other Republicans attacking the State of the Union address. He saw hope in the president's statement of support for Medicare reforms to bring health care savings of the same amount proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.
Refusal to join in partisan attack rhetoric was held against Lugar by the Far Right cause.
Lugar said that he had had no desire for any appointment in the Obama administration -- or any administration. He long has said he enjoyed independence that must be surrendered if part of any presidential team. The independence is still there, still resented by supporters of an uncompromising, unquestioning cause.
Jack Colwell is a columnist for The Tribune. Write to him in care of The Tribune or by e-mail at email@example.com.