Why do conservatives mistrust Sen. Orrin Hatch?

Taking stock of people and ideas in the news.
Feb. 20 2004 1:00 PM

Sen. Orrin Hatch

If this conservative senator isn't safe from conservative attacks, is anyone?

(Continued from Page 1)

Many Democrats suspect Hatch isn't capable of coming up with such sleaze on his own and assume he's simply following orders from a ruthless Bush administration. "I see the situation as an overly partisan, ideologically driven agenda from the White House," Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, a judiciary committee member, told National Journal last year. "Left to his own devices, he would not be doing most of these things."

That theory may explain why conservatives are so quick to lambaste Hatch over the computer files scandal. Fundamentally, they don't trust him. They suspect him of being a Manchurian Senator. Even as he's waged their judicial war, they've continued to doubt his devotion—and have been waiting to pounce on any hint of his past gay-hugging, Kennedy-loving weakness. Which says fairly depressing things about today's Republican Party. If the Bush-era GOP can turn even an open-minded Republican like Hatch into a ruthless foot soldier, and if conservatives will still turn on him viciously for even the slightest display of conscience during Memogate, what hope is there?

Michael Crowley is a senior editor at theNew Republic.