Fresh from his gooey front-pager on how "everyone seems to be honoring" Hillary Clinton on the way to 2016, Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker is now seeing dark clouds for the re-election of Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee. "In Utah GOP, some seek to shut down tea party hero" is the Page One headline.
"Lee's approval ratings in Utah have cratered," Rucker wrote, citing a less-reliable online poll, and talking up a primary challenge from more "pragmatic" Republicans....in 2016. Lined up to denounce Lee as an "ideological wack-job," the Post-friendly Jon Huntsman:
Former Republican governor Jon Huntsman Jr., a 2012 presidential candidate who once employed Lee as counsel in the governor's office, said Lee has bucked a trend of senators who work to grow this small state in a way that makes people proud.
"You don't have ideological wack-jobs," Huntsman said. "For all of its labeling as a red state, underneath it all Utah is a pretty pragmatic Western state, a just-get-it-done ethos."
Many business leaders here said they wish Lee were more like [Orrin] Hatch, a conservative with a penchant for working across the aisle. In a statement, Hatch said the two "might not always agree," but he did not criticize Lee. "There's a unity of purpose amongst all Republicans that Obamacare is a dog of a law," Hatch said.
The headline inside is "Pragmatic Utah Republicans are working to extinguish a tea party firebrand." When Huntsman ran for president in 2011, Rucker found it easy to portray him as much smarter than the wack-jobs:
This is not your typical Republican presidential candidate. Not this year, not in the age of the tea party and bumper-sticker slogans and birth certificates.
Huntsman, the former Utah governor and China envoy, is testing whether Americans want a different kind of politician — someone who doesn’t yell but is a global thinker who can solve the country’s difficult problems. And he thinks he’s that someone.
This made it easy when Huntsman flopped spectacularly to assume the Republicans aren't smart enough for Huntsman, not that Huntsman wasn't smart or "pragmatic" enough to win. The Washington Post, like most liberal media outlets, want a Republican Party that sounds a lot like "Morning Joe."
PS: Underneath the "extinguish the tea party" story on A-4 is this curious headline: "MIllions for pro-default lawmakers," meaning that if you voted against raising the debt ceiling, you're "pro-default." Reporters Tom Hamburger and Jia-Lynn Yang say conservatives "in effect voted to allow the United States to default on its debt."