One of Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman's chief campaign points is that Washington has become more about partisan politics and not at all about solving the nation's problems. So it was more than odd -- embarrassing, actually -- when Sen. Pat Roberts, the man Orman hopes to defeat in November's election, went way out of his way during Saturday's debate at the Kansas State Fair to validate Orman's point.
No matter the topic or question, Roberts repeated his mantra ad nauseam: Harry Reid, Harry Reid, Harry Reid -- with an ample supply of "Obamas" and "Hillary Clintons" thrown in. That and accusing Orman, an independent, of being a liberal, were about all Roberts had to offer.
It got so bad that whenever Roberts was asked a question, some in the crowd started mocking the senator by yelling the name of Reid, D-Utah, the Senate Majority leader.
Roberts has been in Washington as long as Orman has been alive. He has to be more knowledgeable than Orman, and he could have used that superior knowledge to his advantage to appear more statesmanlike, above the fray and in charge. Instead, he went for the low blow and ended up hurting himself.
Harry, Hillary and Obama are the red meat of the hardcore conservatives, whom Roberts already has locked up. What he needs is the people who are more likely to vote for Orman, independents and moderate Republicans.
But instead of courting those voters, he went out of his way to offend them. His tactic showed a lack of respect for Kansas voters, as if we can be persuaded with just a few code words. Give us more credit than that.
There are important issues in this campaign, and some of those were mentioned Saturday, including water, immigration, military cuts and the solvency of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But no matter what the topic, Roberts insisted on invoking the name of Harry Reid and accusing Orman of being a liberal. It not only wasn't necessary, it should have been beneath Roberts.
The benefit for voters is that Roberts exposed an ugly, shallow side of himself they weren't used to seeing. That will give them something else to consider in the voting booth.
It also proves Orman's point about what's wrong with Washington.
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