The Sad Trajectory of Orrin Hatch

Jan 03, 2018 · 519 comments
barb tennant (seattle)
Poster boy for term limits
Barbara Hyde (Sarasota FL)
Teddy Kennedy is most certainly spinning in his grave.
Mike Carpenter (Tucson, AZ)
Hatch trotted out the most egregious proposals of Reagan and the Bushes. Won't miss him at all.
Brian (Salt Lake City, Utah)
He's not a decent man. He's a shill for whomever has a buck to spend. Out here in Utah we refer to him as "The best Senator the Mormon Church's money could buy". Good Riddance.
Robbiesimon (Washington)
Staying in office - that’s all that really matters to our current crop of politicians. Whatever it takes. Put their mothers into wood chippers - no problem.
Richard Cavagnol (Michigan)
Good riddance to a Trump lackey whose not getting enough oxygen to the brain. Another GOP sock puppet for Trump who consistently voted against the correct thing to do for the country and voted to keep his teetering party in Congress. Go back to Utah to the patriarchal society that is slowly crumbling as women gain power and stature. Another anachronism bites the dust!
Buster (Pomona. CA)
Hatch (in anger) characterized his own career as "stinking" in a back and forth w/ Sen. Brown in re: the stalled CHIPS reauthorization. He criticized those who "never lift a finger to help themselves", but this legislation is about HEALTHCARE FOR CHILDREN, not the moochers he pretends are sucking this country dry. And to cavalierly approve funding for corporations and the rich, to the tune of $ 1T plus, his poor description of his beginnings, before 42 years in the Senate, seem disingenuous at best and senile ravings at worst. Your legacy does indeed smell.
M Kathryn Black (Provincetown, MA)
When I heard Senator Hatch make his obsequious remarks to President Trump I couldn't fathom what had happened to him. Because something did. Is it senility or Alzheimer's? Had he been bought in some way? I'm concerned that Mitt Romney, if he is elected Senator of Utah, may change his tune about the current administration for political expediency. I hope I'm wrong. Every sign indicates that our democracy is in grave peril. Already it will take years to repair the damage. The divisiveness that is so apparent at this time also puts everyone in the country in danger. It increases drug use, alcoholism, health and emotional problems, racism, poverty, and loss of productivity and profits.
libdemtex (colorado/texas)
hatch is a poster boy for term and age limits. Two and 62.
Dennis D. (New York City)
What a sad trajectory indeed. After all these years, Orrin Hatch will be leaving the Senate he so loves on a sour note, as a whimpering be-hind kisser to the worse president in history, a pathetic old man who leaves with his tail tucked between legs. Sure, they will be grand tributes by his fellow senators. That is to be expected. Some will remember some of the glory days of Hatch, when he was once a voice of conservative reason not the sycophant he's become. Why when he is retiring does he not leave with a Last Hurrah of someone who no longer has to kowtow to protocol and stifle his tongue when he sees what the leader of his party is doing to the nation, making it the world's laughingstock. Why, Orrin? Have you no sense of decency? We who oppose you politically know you do, as does your fellow senator John McCain. Why not end your career with dignity? Why not leave this world with your shoulders back and your head high? This is the end, my friend. Leave at least with some semblance of honor. DD Manhattan
Mr. Hatch is a pathetic coward. He will be remembered all right, not for the good that he did over his long career, but for his total capitulation at the end to a morally bankrupt party. Character, or lack of it, will out. Hope you read this, Mr. Hatch.
Janice Crum (St. George, UT)
As a Utah Democrat (one of very few), Senator Hatch was the only Republican I would vote for. So sad to see him groveling to President Trump. Why do these politicians insist on selling their souls to the devil when historically they have tried to do the right thing?
Neal (New York, NY)
Is Mr. Tomasky introducing the new GOP party line for 2020: let's replace the crazy oligarch Trump with the less-crazy oligarch Romney? Does America really need a president who built an elevator to more easily rotate his automobile collection?
L (McC)
I'm sorry, but a man who would sell out his country and embrace hyper-partisan politics in order to continue to win elections is exactly the definition of a "bad man". History will remember Hatch for his role in stealing a SCOTUS appointment from the rightful president, for enabling a narcissistic liar who daily puts our country at risk, and for selling out Americans to oligarchs and corporations. Too bad the good things he once accomplished mean nothing in light of the destruction he has help wrought. Good bye and good riddance. I will not mourn him in any capacity.
Lou Good (Page, AZ)
Interesting how these long time senators from both parties enrich themselves during their careers. Just how did Hatch end up with five million dollar fortune after serving seven terms in the Senate on a salary of less than $200,000 annually? Or how about Dianne Feinstein? The swamp is not being drained, it's being filled with money from unknown sources and both parties are feeding at the trough. Media seems to be content with this situation as well as there has never been any reporting on elected officials coming into DC as middle class people and leaving as members of the 1%. How do they do that?
William Park (LA)
Sorry, but a man who tosses aside his conscience and values for the sake of clinging to power is a bad man.
Wimsy (CapeCod)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man." Yes, it is. I heard this pretentious autocrat speak at the JFK Library after Ted Kennedy's death. His remarks were arrogant, offensive, outlandish, undignified, and tasteless. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
roger (Nashville )
When Joe Biden was tapped by Barack Obama to be vice president, he apparently asked the candidate, "What is this election worth losing over?" Rare among people. Rarer among the politicians.
Barry64 (Southwest)
Get in bed with Trump - your reputation is shot and you become permanently diseased. Hatch can only blame senility at this point, or maybe an overdose of those supplements he flogs.
James Murphy (Providence Forge, Virginia)
Two words apply to Hatch: Good riddance!
Donald Ambrose (Florida)
I highly doubt Romney will , if elected, remind the favorable tax treatment that his fellow plutocrats showered themselves with. With his pathological lying former running mate, Ryan, he will likely beginning looking for higher office again. Just another wolf in another sheepskin( made in China of course).
David Sassoon (San Francisco)
“Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself.” ― Epictetus
michael (new york city)
Absurd. I'm old enough to remember Orin Hatch. Tomasky must either be very young and never read post-war history. Hatch has been 40 years in the senate and he has the highest conservative record in the Senate according to the A.C.U. In other words he's been the most right-wing senator his whole tenure. Decent man? Not in his public actions.
Steve Honley (Washington, D.C.)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." This is my one disagreement with what is otherwise an incisive column: Hatch is indeed a bad man, no matter how well he started out.
ron (wilton)
Hatch sold his soul to stay in office. That is not a decent man.
reuben (from afar)
Leaders establish the times... not the other way around. If so, then the converse is true, Hatch isn't as much a leader as we would think... What he has done is play politics extreme and suggests that he reaches across the isle...
Davis (Atlanta)
Seriously? He's a bad man....clearly. Absence of soul.
Claude (Hartford)
Yes Hatch shd have followed the bipartisan example of, say, that great statesman Chuck Schumer. What are we missing here? That the Democratic Party has cheerily moved leftward and is now deifying angry socialists like Bernie Sanders. The myopia here is ludicrous and the hypocrisy shameful.
Independent (the South)
The Socialism that Bernie Sanders wants to give us is universal health care and education similar most of the other industrialized countries. And by the way, they spend half as much as we do per person for health care for just as good health care. Germany is still known for manufacturing and they have faced the same years of globalization. Their government gives better education for working class people and trains and retrains for high-tech manufacturing. BMW is stepping in here in the US and training Americans in Charlotte, SC for high-tech manufacturing. That is the "terrible Socialism" that Bernie Sanders wants to give us. Instead we got 35 years of trickle-down Reaganomics, the greatest income inequality ever, the greatest political divide ever, and an Opioid crisis.
pedigrees (SW Ohio)
So we have, in two days' time, opinions published in the NYT by writers who describe both Romney and Hatch as "decent" and Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, and Tom Cotton as "pro-worker" (Ross Douthat, What has Mitt Romney learned? 1/3/18). NYT, the insane asylum called. They want their delusional columnists back.
dlb (washington, d.c.)
So one gets a pass if its too hard to do the right thing? Then being decent means nothing.
John Edelmann (Arlington, VA)
He is not a decent man, how could he be? He sold out his country and its people to stay in office. Grotesque! Where is he going now? To work as a lobbyist or on the board of a Coal or Mining Co., I bet.
dgbu (Boston)
"Mr. Hatch’s career reflects the sad trajectory of our times, from a Congress where legislators had differences but actually tried to legislate, to one in which legislators — especially Republicans, terrified of facing a well-financed primary from the right — do nothing of the sort." You can't be serious. When's the last time you saw a Democrat reach across the aisle?
Max duPont (NYC)
Hatch does whatever he can to line his own pockets. Now that he led the tax scam to the advantage of billionaires, it was the right time to retire and claim his just rewards from his masters. No different than all congressmen, just a difference in scale perhaps.
Eugene Patrick Devany (Massapequa Park, NY)
Romney is an improvement over Hatch. He also knows the real Mr. Trump.
Zoned (NC)
A "decent man" does not give up the best interests of his countrymen/women and rather than standing behind his principles, becomes another party lackey. That is the definition of a self-seving man. Have we lowered the bar so much that Tomasky forgives such people for being caught in an "indecent dynamic" rather than condemning them for participating and perpetuating it? Let's hope Romney, who is expected to replace him, does not do the same.
Zoned (NC)
Reaching across the aisle has become another victim of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering gives too much power to extremist minority views.
JAB (Bayport.NY)
Orin Hatch is a phony. He criticized liberal judges as being activists on the court but remains mute with a conservative Supreme Court that has been extremely aggressive in supporting a conservative agenda. He praised Trump to the high heavens. He voted and supported a tax bill that will blow the budget. He like many of his colleagues in the Senate belong in a nursing home. They are too old and out of touch. They show too little concern for the poor and too much concern for their rich benefactors.
Torry Watkins (Hightstown NJ)
If anyone needs an operational definition of "whited sepulcher", look no further than Orrin Hatch.
susanlc (Haiku, HI)
What is "decent" about governing with no integrity? Orrin Hatch is not "trapped" by anything. He has made his choices and they are bad ones. His legacy, like everyone else who aligns themselves with the Trump administration, will be tarnished. But let's be clear here. Hatch is no victim—he's a perpetrator.
Lisa W (Los Angeles)
The entire Republican party has no principles except donor money. It is a criminal enterprise. Hatch is just part and parcel of much larger corruption.
Jon (UK)
Orrin Hatch isn't a bad man? So.. according to NYT logic spending 42 years saying whatever it takes to keep you attached to the public teat doesn't make you bad? "Senator Hatch has an estimated net worth of $4.96 M as of 2014, making him a fair amount wealthier than the average member of Congress and the richest among all members from Utah." Exactly - all of that thanks to the US taxpayer whose interests he has so assiduously betrayed... take a look at his record on *all* environmental matters and tell me this guy hasn't just used his office for personal enrichment with no regard to the responsibilities or duties at all..
jimbo (Guilderland, NY)
When you are willing to sell out your principals to maintain power, you cease to have those principals. No matter how hard you try to convince people otherwise. I believe Senator Kennedy is now face down in his grave.
Dominique (Upper west side)
This is at the end a sad story, the story of a man that saw himself losing himself, what is more tragic that aging knowing that you didn't have what it take to resist the temptation of just follow "les forces du mal" the story of the odyssey and Homer, this is a real tragedy , somehow I feel for the guy facing diminishing existence with nothing to hold on.
brian (Colorado)
"He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." If you're only a decent person except in tough circumstances, you're not actually a decent person.
Andy Beckenbach (Silver City, NM)
In that exchange with Sherrod Brown last November, Hatch referred to his "whole stinking career". Perhaps, somewhere deep down, he acknowledged Michael Tomasky's principle arguments. I understand why Republican politicians are fearful of being primaried from the right. But what about those politicians who have decided not to run for re-election? Jeff Flake no doubt has future political aspirations, so I can see why he would continue to follow the lunatic right. But John McCain and Orin Hatch surely have no further political interests. Why can't they ignore the need to maintain their far right base? Have they been totally brainwashed by fox "news" into thinking that anything Democrats want is evil?
Groovus (Detroit, MI)
Hatch, thy name is Avarice.
arp (east lansing, mi)
He is not a bad man, you say? Well, if the consequences of one's actions are really, really despicable, I would say that he is really, really bad. How would this hypocrite explain his recent actions to his... friend, Edward Kennedy? Nothing personal, only business. The business of one who would cling to his job by racing to the bottom like so many of his GOP colleagues. So much for piety, so much for serving the people.
Steve (Los Angeles)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Wrong. He is a bad man. And he's representative of the Mormons in Utah, "bad".
LeGEE (Savannah)
So called 'decent' men like Senator Hatch need to be publicly called out for their indecency. He remains happily oblivious otherwise, as shown by his ridiculous fake modesty in comments about the editorial he thought was praise for his glorious career.
gc (chicago)
term limits or age limits for being in congress is open to corruption... just on a faster track... how about getting paid when you do something beneficial for the country ... like piece work in the old days?... no more golden parachutes or health care... just overtime you pass legislation that betters the entire country you get a sum of money... I know it's impossible.... because corruption exists regardless... but I like the thought!
Richard Schumacher (The Benighted States of America)
Utahns have an excellent candidate in Jenny Wilson. There's no need to elect Romney or any other Republican retread or hack.
alderpond (Washington)
What happened to "sticking to your guns" Senator Hatch? To stay in power, you sold out to the extreme Right, turned your back on the people of the US and bowed down to Donald Trump, a man who represents every evil you once fought against. You should resign now and let a better man represent Utah.
Lani Mulholland (San Francisco)
A decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic? There is nothing decent about a willingness to hurt poor children and disabled people in order to hang on to your power. Nothing decent about making every effort to stonewall the first non-white POTUS. The GOP have revealed itself as a party of bigots and misogynists. They know they will have a hard time getting reelected so the job is just a stepping stone to the real money as a lobbyist. He is a bad man.
Joe (Paradisio)
Wow! Over the course of 42 years in the Senate someone politics has changed! What insight!
expat (Japan)
Hatch is another empty suit who could be said to have lost the courage of his convictions only if he had ever had any of either. Good riddance.
Ralph (Philadelphia)
Let’s call a spade a spade. Hatch is a hack, in perfect sync with his corrupt Republican Party. Remember his contemptible fawning to Trump? “You are the greatest president since Washington” or something to that effect? Our country is worse off for having “public servants” like him — servants interested, not in their constituents but rather in lining their own pockets. Let him toddle off the stage, taking his pin-striped suits and expensive shirts with him.
Steve (Va)
No, not a decent man
Anne (Austin)
Hatch, like most of today's Republicans, is a sniveling coward, unable to speak truth to power. The entire party's adoration of power and money, at the expense of principle, and layered with an icing of phony religiosity, is repulsive. Good riddance to him
ak bronisas (west indies)
The media justification by the author, in this NYT article,for the many self serving political activities of Orrin Hatch as....... "a decent man caught in an indecent dynamic" why politics continues to exist as endemic institutionalized opportunistic corruption............. "the medium is the message" !
Jill (NY)
Orrin Hatch became a moral monster. Good riddance.
The Iconoclast (Oregon)
What's up with the New York Times consistent production of snowball profiles of politicians in need of a makeover? As far as I'm concerned Hatch is a disgusting bootlicker who never risked a dime where his political advantage was concerned.
Larry (Garrison, NY)
He's not a decent man if he does indecent things. Let's stop giving these pin heads an out. If they, like Hatch, support racist people like Trump, they're RACITS. Mike drop.
Paul (Brooklyn)
Hatch made a pact with the devil. Although I usually did not agree with him, he was a legit voice on the right. His fawning over Trump, a bigot, rabble rouser, pathological liar, ego maniac demagogue is disgusting. Oh did I mention Trump being an admitted sexual predator Sen. Hatch? I thought you were a God fearing Mormon.
CT (Mansfield, OH)
Be not afraid. That a small majority (who vote) can hold hostage members of their party to their agenda making them party hacks is sad. Some good men, cower from them and deny their duty to provide for the common good. They are afraid and earn a place in hell.
ecco (connecticut)
hatch is a poster icon for term one has to, needs to, is needed to, make congress a career. even the best legislative notions can be shepherded by successors if party organization is cogent, (ok, there's a rub, but it won't get better if we let it be as it is), besides, legislators who've served can still consult. so, why not a one-term term, no RE-elections, no campaign funding (the most time-consuming of our present electeds' duties), not to mention the k street factor that has nearly all of them in thrall rather to special interests than "the general Welfare". publicly funded elections to three year terms for the house, five years for the senate and six for president will give us a clear shot at replacing careerists with citizen legislators (or nearly citizen, they won't come and go from day jobs but they will work a five-day, 40 hour week...with one weekend day for visits to their constituents, the other for rest. during scheduled intervals, say two weeks per quarter, electeds, (barring national crisis), would take a non-supervisory job in one or another industry relevant to their district's interests, (drive a truck, stock shelves, fill potholes, assist a teacher or a field ecoglogist, etc.). the bet here is that actual service and the benefits of limited distraction from careers, will attract a more diligent, less blathery, sort...and that parties will respond to the challenges of the strict oversight required to keep agenda, and america, moving.
Iris (NY)
I'll tell you why not: for every longtime congressperson who has jumped the shark and started doing a lousy job, there are twenty longtime congresspeople who are doing a good job and deserve to stay. The fact the the people of Utah have successfully noticed that Hatch has gone off the rails and are telling pollsters they want him gone is proof that term limits are not necessary: the voting public is perfectly capable of getting rid of somebody who has gone bad. Also, there are numerous studies showing that experienced legislators do a better job, and are more resistant to lobbying pressure, than inexperienced ones. The evidence from state legislatures that have implemented term limits has repeatedly shown that these legislatures do a much worse job for their people than those that don't arbitrarily shove their best people out. In no other field of complex human endeavor do we delude ourselves that experience is a bad thing. Just say No to term limits.
Coker (SW Colorado)
The bigger story is how a political party was radicalized by outside forces, mostly by "astroturf"groups like FreedomWorks. Chuck Grassley is another good senator who has been turned into a conservative crank. Conservative populism fills a void left by a Democratic party that has lost its way and allowed spin-doctors to squeeze their message till it is incoherent. The result is far-reaching, and the sustained attack is successfully destroying progressive legislation reaching back to Theodore Roosevelt's administration. With the deliberate bankrupting of the government, many departments and agencies can never be brought back to their former strength. Thank You Mr, Hatch, Grassley and others for your sellout...And we have three more years of this across-the -government mismanagement left and decades more to repair it
sleepdoc (Wildwood, MO)
Hatch lost any respect I had for him in 1993 when he handed then FDA head Dr. David Kessler a resounding rebuke when Kessler came before Hatch's Senate committee requesting more authority and funding to regulate the vitamin/supplement industry. Hatch then engineered the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) which took away almost all FDA authority over the supplement industry. Utah was and remains a major producer/distributor of supplement products which, unlike prescription medications, do not have to show they are either safe or effective or, for that matter, actually contain the ingredients claimed on the bottles. Protected from having to prove their claims, the industry has seen US retail sales of their nostrums go from $5.8B in 1994 to over $35B in 2015. Much of Hatch's politicial contributions come from the industry and it has enriched him and his family. He should be shouting to the rafters of the Senate about Congress's failure to reauthorize CHIP. Instead he is proclaiming the wonderfulness of Trump. SAD
Phaedrus (Austin, Tx)
The arc that concerns me is the mass movement in America toward uncritical acceptance of verifiable falsehoods, and the grip this movement has on one of our two major political parties. This current competition of political ideas is not what Edmund Burke had in mind.
Ed M (Richmond, RI)
Americans want their government to be made up of men and women who are more like Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith, principled to the core. Some get elected that way, but being outside looking in is different than being on the inside looking out; the latter being much more comfortable. Besides, one can sometimes do worthwhile thing with a seat in the chamber. Polarity is nothing new; J. William Fulbright noted that when he was the darling of the Left for opposing the Vietnam war, he would not have been there to do so if he had not voted for segregationist legislation, popular in his home state. So it is a mixed bag. Often noxious. Once in office the paradigm shifts meaning. Candidates say they want the greatest good for the greatest number, but the greatest number once elected, is #1. Maybe without Ted Kennedy, Sen. Hatch is lost. Maybe he sold his political soul. Romney can be a chameleon, but he knows now it is not good to be a toady.
Darcey (RealityLand)
The test of a person is over time. Will she keep her principles and possibly lose her job or keep her job and lose herself. Mr. Hatch failed this test in a fundamental way.
cgosman (CT)
Tomasky has it right - Hatch's trajectory is emblematic of the GOP's descent into madness these last few years. To suggest that Trump's presidency "could be the greatest ever" as Hatch recently said, is beyond belief. Or it ought to be, in a sane world
Larry Handy (Bountiful, Utah)
I moved here when he did and viewed him as an intern in a D.C. He is the consummate politician. He has always been star struck. That is why he befriended Ted as well as Ali. There is a little bit of Orrin in all of us. What makes him stand out is that he plans way in advance. He was as dishonest as LBJ and as careful. He was never corrupt. We tolerated him. He did what he was hired to do. Your piece was perfect in every way. Every single word.
Pauly K (Shorewood)
Decent people don't fawn over wannabe autocrats, and they don't appease extremism from the alt-right, Freedom Caucus, or Tea Party. Orrin was not decent. He was tragic.
The Perspective (Chicago)
Orrin was profiled as one of the Senators who will financially benefit directly (and his heirs no doubt) from the new tax legislation. Both his payroll taxes will be reduced from his Senate salary and his wealthy estate will see few taxes. He pretends to be concerned about the common man when his real master is the wealthy and corporate America.
Randal Bottoms (Carrollton, Texas)
Mr. Tomasky makes a good case for term limits, the need for new people with different points of views and a method of curbing the influence of monied groups. Going one step further, does Congress really need to be a full time gig?
iceowl (Flagstaff, AZ)
Let's presume the best of Senator Hatch - that at all times the one item of consistency in his behavior is that he believes he is serving his constituency. The change in him arises from the bald fact we have all seen from the right. In days gone by the constituency sent its best and brightest to Washington and expected them to act in a manner that might be sometimes above their collective understanding - but would always be in their best interest. The constituency trusted that what was done for them could be explained later. The Tea Party movement changed that. instead of sending the best and brightest to Washington, conservatives send their drinking buddies. They send people who do not threaten them intellectually, and scream the same dinner-time epithets at the TV News. They are consoled by the truth that the people they're sending know no more about politics than they do, and there's no deeper-layer to their activities. They draw deep comfort from the behavior they get from their elected leaders because their tendencies and reactions are no different than their own. This mistrust in intelligence is evident in all revolutions. Odd that it came from the conservative side first, rather than the left, whom we would more expect to act in the manner of China's Maoist revolution than the right.
Concerned MD (Pennsylvania)
Sorry, but Hatch (and too many others in Senate and House) is no longer fully cognitively capable of performing the duties of a national legislator. You can see it in his emotional lability and haltering speech patterns. Why do we not accept this reality of human frailty and have term limits? I might even suggest new rules re neurocognitive testing for fitness to serve starting with Trump but realize that is a non-starter. Sadly, those with cognitive impairment are usually the last to recognize the need to intervene.
Brian (Bethesda)
I suspect the author was throwing Republican readers a dog bone when he called Hatch 'decent'. That magnanimity is misplaced. Hatch long ago stopped throwing dog bones to those who believe political leaders primary duty is to govern. He and Lindsey Graham have become caricatures of everything truly decent men like Dole, Ford and Javits do not stand for.
Melvin Baker (MD)
A decent man does not put party ahead of country or his very own constituents. If hatch had the the decency you claim he would have stood up for the proper causes and bills and likely been gone long ago. No name calling for this elderly man, but it is time for him to go and to take his tarnished legacy with him.
Robert Blais (North Carolina)
Tomasky writes: "It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." I disagree. If he were decent he would reach across the aisle to work with Democrats on something. Instead he chooses, repeat, chooses, to be against anything and everything the Dems may want to do. Even CHIP. As the senior senator he could certainly lead the way. Since he will not run again he still could lead the way. Anyone wanna bet that he does?
Doug Keller (Virginia)
A person is not 'bad' or 'good' a priori, according to early acts. It is how a person bends to circumstances — or refuses to — that determines one's quality. Moral quality exists in a continuum, not in amber. You are who you become, especially in 'indecent times.' He certainly wasn't acting to avoid penury, nor even a threat to his life. He was just an aging man, facing the loss of his place at the trough.
JBC (Indianapolis)
“He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic.” He is not trapped. He is not a hostage. He has agency and choice. A decent man would make decent choices, regardless of reelection prospects. Hatch quit doing exactly that.
Gilin HK (New York)
Aha! So, the end of Hatch is also to be the end of Romney? Keep the political shredder revved up. What fun.
Robert FL (Palmetto, FL.)
No one said that transition to oligarchy would be pretty.
Pat Boice (Idaho Falls, ID)
Why is it that Republican politicians are willing to lose their own soul in order to win an election? Perhaps if we could get the big money out of politics it would be more difficult for the mega-rich - Koch Brothers, Mercers, Adelsons etc - to be able to "primary" those who don't "toe their line"!
After the Republicans passed a one-party only tax bill to benefit large corporations and the wealthiest Americans (like Hatch and his family - money made via corruption as shill for pharmaceutical industry and with Hatch’s son, a lobbyist for that industry), Orrin Hatch said: “Well, Mr. President, I have to say that you’re living up to everything I thought you would. You’re one heck of a leader, and we’re all benefitting from it ... And we love all of you. And we’re going to keep fighting, and we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.“ Hatch belives the Trump Presidency will be the greatest ever. There is nothing more that has to be said about Hatch and his legacy and compete lack of decency.
JB (Mo)
Any question about the GOP being the party of Trump was put to rest at that sickening display of adulation at the White House following the tax reform "victory". Now, if Trump makes a sharp turn, it's rhinoplasty for the entire party.
Avatar (NYS)
Not sure how a good man can turn so 180. But his current rhetoric is kind of shameful--did he actually say that trump is the best president he's ever worked with? Or one of the best? Either way it's absurd and certainly reinforces the case for term limits. 42 years is absurd and not what the founding fathers intended. Sorry Mr Hatch but you've brought the current criticism onto yourself.
Mike Iker (Mill Valley, CA)
I grew up in Utah. My dad was something of a business leader and in a relatively small state was able to know Senators Hatch and Bennett personally. I still have a pair of US Senate cuff links that my dad got from Orin Hatch. But over the years, Utah, where Democrat office holders were once common, grew more conservative. It is now plagued by the same political partisanship that is found elsewhere. Their state legislature's version of gerrymandering (the so-called "pizza pie" Congressional districts) assures that the relatively liberal voters in Salt Lake City are split between three of the four Congressional districts and are overwhelmed by rural voters with whom they have little in common (the Utah legislature's claim is that each Congressional district should reflect the politics of the state overall, which used to be the definition of US Senators and governors). So Orin Hatch, who used to at least give lip service to his love for the United States, learned the lesson of Senator Bennett's primary defeat - his allegiance is to the GOP, not the USA. My dad, who was a true patriot, voted for Obama. At the service for his best friend, with whom he joined the Navy out of high school at the end of WWII, the question was asked and answered "How does an Eisenhower Republican become an Obama Democrat - He stands still". My mom says she is glad my dad died before he had to see Trump, saying it would have broken his heart. But seeing Orin Hatch give up his values already had.
Bos (Boston)
I disagree with with Mr Tomasky's characterization of Mr Hatch that the latter is "a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." There is a rubicon a decent man shall not pass. Mr Hatch has passed it. There is no returning. He was supposed to be a good personal friend of the late Sen Teddy Kennedy. Perhaps. Perhaps Kennedy passing has more endurable effects on American politics. In this case, not a good one. But here lies the irony. Kennedy's personal life was a mess until Mrs Victoria Reggie Kennedy came into his life. He is well loved posthumously. Mr Hatch might be a decent man personally, but the dark path he has helped crafted is just the beginning
gasman (maryland)
I saw the fear that struck when the tea party eliminated Bennet and Senator Hatch was forced to move right to stay in office. With the partisan political environment, he was rarely able to move back to the Center. It will be interesting to see he conducts the next year without the re-election pressure. Hopefully he can be more outspoken and work to build a more cohesive Senate. A long history as a wise and effective politician. And a kind and decent man.
Howard (Los Angeles)
"Decent man" means something other than what I thought. I didn't realize it meant that you repudiate your decent principles to get re-elected and then adhere to your new approach, whatever effect doing so might have on – say, sick children. As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney supported something very like Obamacare. As a candidate for president, he abandoned it. Now he won't work with Democrats on CHIP. As Mark Anthony might have said, "But Romney is an honorable man."
Bob McCrea (Chicago)
I choose to remember Hatch as a staunch supporter of basic NIH research. Whatever else he did as Senator, he did his best to improve our knowledge of biology and medical science.
Levéerrea (Boston)
Not when it came to nutritional supplement evaluation and regulation. Follow the money to his family interests.
Flaminia (Los Angeles)
Basic term limits are a bad idea. As a Californian I know this. All of our state politicians are engaged in a continual game of musical chairs. They are always focused on securing their next gig. I recommend mandatory retirement. The mandatory age can be older in the Senate, maybe 75 or 80. The mandatory age in the House should be 65 or 70. We need people in touch with the current world and with their marbles intact. The old geezers in either party need to step aside.
Dick Franklin (Sammamish)
Good idea. But 75 and no older in the Senate and House.
Shonun (Portland OR)
This is nonsensical. You state that term limits are a bad idea, then proceed to point out how politicians are always angling to secure their next gig (presuming reelection). In fact, the lack of Congressional term limits are what create the twisted politics and power-mongering that have dogged that body from the beginning. The needed public service work is hamstrung not only by the distractions of constant campaigning and securing funds from donors, but by the very fealty to donors who expect and literally pay for favorable treatment when it comes to legislation which will enhance the donors' wealth, or that of their associates. It's a system that begs for corruption. Supporters of this system, who oppose term limits, find the loudest voices in the politicians themselves who benefit from it. And supporters suggest that a build-up of seniority gives a senator or congress person more power on committees when it comes to getting things done. There is some truth to this. But this benefit is vastly overshadowed by the deep problems and corruption that lack of term limits has produced. It is well past time for term limits reform.
Lin Kaatz Chary (Gary, IN)
Apologies for misspelling Hatch's name - should be Orrin Hatch, not Oren Hatch.
Larry Jordan (Amsterdam, NY)
Hatch sold his soul, and now owns the reputation he deserves. Any good he accomplished forever marginalized.
Koyote (Pennsyltucky)
Hatch went haywire long ago...He savaged Anita Hill, a decent woman who was dragged into Senate Judiciary hearings. For going to the trouble of telling the truth, she had the privilege of being slandered by Hatch.
Clayton (Somerville, MA)
His entry into politics was freakish and dystopian. And the dystopia never wavered.
Lin Kaatz Chary (Gary, IN)
Excuse me, but is there something in the water that causes mass amnesia regarding Senator Hatch's appalling and disgusting performance in defending Clarence Thomas and demeaning Anita Hill at every possible opportunity in every possible way during Thomas' confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court? Credit where credit is due in whatever role he played in passing important legislation in the past - the distant past at this point. However, he has now clearly demonstrated his true opportunistic character, lack of principles, and lack of moral center in his ability - and willingness - to effortlessly abandon anything he previously stood for if it will interfere with his own personal agenda to maintain position and power. Oren Hatch represents the worst of "conservatism" precisely because he is able to hide behind a veneer of historical "respectability" which comes from having his name on some progressive legislation and being friends with Ted Kennedy. But anyone who looks at what the man actually stands for and what he has done should not be fooled. Among other things, Hatch bears huge responsibility for the fact that a man who is very likely guilty of sexual harassment (but we'll never know, will we, because Senators like Hatch made sure it would never be investigated), and thus unfit to sit on the highest court in the US, is now a Supreme Court Justice. There is no trajectory here, just a steady predictable course with a few anomalies for we can, indeed, be grateful.
Tom Bauer (Cresskill, NJ)
To all those proposing term limits: Please, give up on this wrong idea. It interferes with people's right to vote. New blood is not always good blood. A better idea to keep incumbents accountable would be something I call Positive Voter Recall (PVR). If an elected (or re-elected) someone, after serving a year or more into their new term is unsatisfactory to his constituents, said constituents can nominate a replacement within 90 days of filing the recall petition, by collecting the requisite signatures. Then, within 90 days of submitting the signatures, a recall election is held between the incumbent and the recall-nominated challenger. Based on a turnout of greater than 60 % of eligible voters, a majority of votes, from those recall ballots cast, would be needed for the challenger to win. Knowing that the rug could be yanked from beneath elected officials before their term is up would better focus said officials' attention on who actually serves them.
mancuroc (rochester)
A decent man who allows his public beliefs to be shaped by an indecent movement is no longer a decent man.
Elliot (NYC)
Mr. Hatch projects decency in a consistently smarmy way, but he is not a decent man if decency requires a consistent adherence to truth and to principles. Time after time, he purported to be the eloquent and authoritative voice articulating the principles underlying his party's position, but he did so speaking from both sides of his mouth. He has been a supreme hypocrite, asserting principles that were selected to serve partisan goals on either side of the underlying issues, depending on where the Republicans stood at the moment. He sacrificed probity for political ends. Some politicians, for better or worse, admit that the ends justify the means. Mr. Hatch pretended to operate on a higher plane, but the smug way he projected the pretense made it all the more objectionable.
Groovus (Detroit, MI)
Yes and yes again. His face has now contorted to show all that you have mentioned.
Eben Espinoza (SF)
Hatch is single-handedly responsible for knee-capping the FDA to unleash the medicl quackery of "supplements," Coincidentally, his family has been a huge beneficiary of the laws he championed. There's never been anything to admire about this guy.
TamC (Windber, PA)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." I submit that a decent man who becomes "trapped in an indecent dynamic" is not deterred from doing what is right. It appears that Mr. Hatch is forsaking doing the right thing for political expediency. I ask how decent is he, REALLY?
ken Jay (Pasadena)
Down the path with McCain.
Rocky (Seattle)
When it comes down to it, most politicians gon' be politicians. I'm just waiting to see how big a new vacation home is built for him by his patrons.
Glenn W. (California)
This is what the Republican Party Inc. does to its members. They lose all integrity and become apparatchiks without honesty or morals. So sad to go down in history as a Trump sycophant. Too bad Hatch, you had a choice and chose infamy.
Ralph (Philadelphia)
Hatch is a flat-out hack and stooge, perfectly in line with today's corrup party.Republican
Hotel (Putingrad)
No, it is exactly that he is a bad man.
Jay David (NM)
Hatch has been a sad joke, from start to finish. 42 years...and Hatch accomplished NOTHING...except to prove that the dinosaurs did not all go extinct, that one dinosaur still lives in Utah.
Paul (Cape Cod)
Mr. Tomasky, you are far too kind to Senator Hatch, who forgot where he came from and became an arrogant tool for conservative extremists and the wealthy.
The 1% (Covina)
Oh brother. When politicians get bought, they stay bought. Hatch just took a little longer and the death of Kennedy created a mental vacuum. Maybe Romney won't wilt under the pressure of big money Koch. NOT!
LarryAt27N (north florida)
"...It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man...." ...who sold his soul to the Devil. That's all.
J. Ro-Go (NY)
Sorry, Mr. Tomasky: if one abandons one's basic moral core (one that may very well have been decent) for the sake of politics, then one is not a decent man. That man is a sycophant to power.
George Klingbeil (Wellington, New Zealand)
I’ve read reader comments in many a NYT article. Never have I seen such consensus as this. It seemed ironic to me that he announced his retirement right on the heals of the tax package. He is the type of person to which one could easily feel justified applying flowery, vulgar and demeaning epithets too. Several come to mind. I truly wonder what a person such as this thinks of themselves.
Sam Song (Edaville)
So, would you say he is a heel?
Yuri Asian (Bay Area)
Addendum to my earlier comment: Hatch the habitual liar uttered unwittingly two truths in his apoplectic response to Sen. Sherrod Brown. The first was his "stinking career." The second was "Give me a break." Of course he meant his tax break on the millions he's hoarded as a Senator for 40 years. Who said public service doesn't pay?
Christy (Blaine, WA)
Good riddance to another doddering dotard who had no business being in the Senate in the first place. Orrin Hatch is a bad man and his embrace of Trump as "one heck of a leader" showed how low the Republicans have set the bar in their support of a president who is not only unfit but demonstrably so. The Wolff book should open the eyes of Trump's most myopic admirers -- but it won't.
JR (Bronxville NY)
Reader response is overwhelming: Hatch is worse than Senator Paine!
pigeon (mt vernon, wi)
No. He's not a decent man. He's a liar, a fraud and he was directly responsible for the Challenger explosion by making sure that Morton-Thiokol (in Utah) had the contract to build the booster rockets thereby making it imperative that they be built in sections for cross-country shipment necessitating the joints with "O" rings that failed and caused the horrific loss of life. He has been bought and paid for his entire career. He is a cancer on America.
Jim (Long Island)
"A decent man trapped in an indecent dynamic" is a fancy way of saying a self interested coward
Jim (Long Island)
Also do not forget his backing of the diet supplement industry which is now the #1 industry in Utah. His efforts have kept them unregulated. A true snake oil salesman if there ever was one.
Patricia G (Florida)
"An indecent dynamic" should not trap decent men and surely cannot trap true leaders.
Shtarka (Denpasar, Indonesia)
Hatch is a prime example of what is wrong with our government- opportunism over principles, integrity, and a sense of what is right and good. People like Hatch put their personal csreers over the good of We The People.
Grindelwald (Boston Mass)
The reporter Tomasky makes the argument that Hatch, a Senator of the US, started doing good things for the country but then switched to doing damaging things in order to keep getting reelected. Apparently, Tomasky thinks this is a valid moral excuse. I certainly don't. Anyone who takes on such an important job should realize that his personal gain is less important than his responsibility to the many people depending on him. Every private in the Army knows that. Why is it permissible that Senators can put personal gain before duty to country?
Jb (Ok)
It is already clear that Romney isn't likely to stand up to Trump. He went from critical of the man before the election to a docile candidate for his SOS afterward, touting Trump's "message of inclusion," for heaven's sake. Romney will serve his own ambition, whatever that may take.
Just Some Guy (Around Boston)
He also opposed Obamacare, designed essentially after Romneycare. As a candidate for governor of Massachusetts he said he would be against changing laws for pro-choice. As a presidential candidate of the right WING, he was against a woman's right to choose. As governor of Massachusetts, he was fairly moderate. While running for President he proclaimed himself so conservative that one cannot even specify the degree to which he is conservative with mere words (okay, he didn't say it that way exactly, but he certainly implied it). Romney is the ultimate in opportunistic candidates.
urmyonlyhopeobi1 (Miami)
I'm sure that there was a time when Hatch had a soul. Father time has come to collect.
Donna (California)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic.." Just how many times did Michael Tomasky have to spin that around in his mouth till the lie was palatable enough to write down? Now we can excuse all inexcusable behavior by deeming "the dynamic" as indecent rather than the .
Howard Epstein (Brooklyn)
No, he is not a decent man! He was so demeaning to Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings. I remember being appalled by how horrible one person could be with such a smarmy smile on his face. Glad to see him go. It is shame that he lasted 42 years.
NNI (Peekskill)
His service has been epochal. Sure. An epochal tragedy for us Americans. What a way to go. 42 years reflecting a sad trajectory. A trajectory which brought us severe misery. He should have gone years ago but at least he will be gone. Now you can repent at leisure i.e if you had an ounce of conscience.
Jan (Milwaukee)
He is absolutely not a decent man. His latest support for the GOP tax plan was indecent. It was cruel. I have never felt so disgusted by our leaders.
Ingapone (Salt Lake City, UT)
I lived in Utah. The Mormon church supports its own, in a big way, almost blindly. Utah is one of the reddest states in the country and if you couple that with the fact that it is run by the LDS church, you can bet that Utahns will be stuck in the 19th century for a long time. White men have the power there and very few people question it.
Nancy fleming (Shaker Heights ohio)
He’s a politician. Somewhere during his career he lost any integrity he had and became just another member of the herd,beaten into conforming to the right wing Narrow mind,and big money.Everyday we make choices he made his.
Christin Carney (Santa Barbara, California)
So my takeaway from this piece is that Orrin Hatch is “not a bad man”, simply a compromised one who had to move to the far right when the Tea Party rose to power? Sorry, but the rise of Hatch’s political career through trampling over the country’s interests makes him a cold, calculating and very bad man in my moral lexicon by deliberately scuttling the very reason he was elected for his own self-serving ends. No excuses, he knew exactly what he was doing when he put his own interests over the country’s. Yes, a very bad man indeed.
Memphrie et Moi (Twixt Gog and Magog)
Forty two years ago America was an evolving democracy decades ahead of my Canada still run by a white male plutocracy and a white male political establishment. Our plutocracy is less white, less male and our political establishment is more about meritocracy than choosing the right parents. Orin Hatch's tenure is about starting decades ahead of the world's democracies in social evolution and economic opportunity and falling so far behind the USA may never be able to again join our evolving democracies. This is both a bad and a sad legacy.
Dana in NYC (New York, NY)
I can only suppose that the word "decent" has lost all meaning if applied to a bad actor like Orin Hatch. A decent man acts with decency or he isn't decent. See how that works?
dairyfarmersdaughter (WA)
It's called political expediency. Most politicians will do whatever it takes to get re-elected. Mr. Hatch was a prime example of that. He sold his soul, and his reputation, for re-election. I'm glad Mr. Hatch decided it's time to retire - seeing politicians in their 80s running for re-election is disturbing. I mean that for both parties. I don't make this statement out of disparagement for the elderly, but common sense shows us that many people of that age start to lose their stamina, and perhaps their mental acuity. More importantly, I feel it is important to have fresh people who bring new ideas - regardless of which party they are in. I think it's rather sad Mr. Hatch squandered his reputation to back Trump and the Tea Party. However, that was his choice and he will have to live with that legacy.
Eric Jackman (Dallas, Tx.)
Hatch lost his soul, period. Let us not broadly tarnish all seniors for the sins of some. This is a slippery slope, why not re elect those who continue to perform well in our best interest? This is why I oppose term limits. Wisdom, by definition, is not the realm of youth.
alan haigh (carmel, ny)
At some point it would be refreshing if journalists didn't so often talk about the Tea Party as if it was some amorphous power generated from grass roots politics. It is the creation of Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers and it is the brothers Koch that carry the power of GOP veto in the primaries. Americans deserve to know who the puppet masters are and what they are planning to do to our country.
Doug Karo (Durham, NH)
I note the concluding optimism of the author that surely everyone is a decent man but just not able to act decently and the pessimism that Mr. Romney will live down to that level too. When job #1 is getting elected and re-elected and nothing else matters, why do we even wonder where politicians went wrong.
Grace Thorsen (Syosset NY)
No decent man would treat our First Nations like this jerk did - and Romney - decent?? NOT
David (iNJ)
The ever ebbing political tide lowers all boats into a muddied bog, providing enough slime to throw about in all ideologic directions
Isabella Saxon (San Francisco, CA)
Surely a decent man? You would need to be a privileged white male to make that assertion--or put your head in the sand, as this reporter did. What proof is there of Hatch's decency. He led the charge against Anita Hill. He ended his career by voting to sack taxes for the rich and raid the middle-class. Through his own efforts, he successfully destroyed two magnificent national monuments in his own state. What did he do to save the CHIP program? He will not be missed. Sorry.
a sophisticated republican crook of the first magnitude - vitamin man is a carnival barker and con man - just like other republicans.
Bruce Pippin (Monterey, Ca. )
"Your one heck of a leader, this is going to be the best Presidency ever, you are everything I thought you would be" Just who is Orrin Hatch describing, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, no Donald Trump? Good riddance Orrin Hatch, it is time to go as far away from public power as possible, you have lost your soul and your mind.
RichardS (New Rochelle)
Truly the most shameful final moment.
Carissa V. (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Good riddance to another shamelessly hypocritical member of the "Party Of No."
JayK (CT)
As despicable and soulless a man as he is, he's truthfully no worse than at least 45 other GOP misanthropes that slither around in the senate. His attempt to silence Sherrod Brown in that senate hearing was as shameful as it was enlightening, as was his disgraceful treatment of Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Goodbye, funnyman, you won't be missed, although your invocation of "Long Dong Silver" is the undisputed, undefeated and greatest unintentional comedy moment in Senate history.
James (Maryland)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man" ..........yes he is
Ltj (Florida)
Any supporter of Donald Trump is a bad man.
Runaway (The desert )
Nope. Not a decent man. He once was. Many politicians start out as decent men, and then the desire to hang on to power changes them. Good riddance to him, and all of the other "decent" conservatives who tremble before the sad little sociopath in the white house.
wbj (ncal)
Mittens will sell his soul as soon as necessary. No change here.
Art (Baja Arizona)
Hatch is a criminal deserving of a prison cell right next to his president and the whole of republican politicians.
Paul (Philadelphia)
Senator Hatch spoke warmly at Muhammad Ali's funeral. A decent man caught up in an indecent political atmosphere since day 1.
Steve (Corvallis)
I disagree with your conclusion. Whatever he was may once have been, he is now truly a bad man. His actions and his words bear this out. Just another foaming-at-the-mouth Republican -- literally, which you can see in his sickening response to Sherrod Brown.
mark lederer (seattle)
The man is a disgrace... good ridden.
Mello Char (Here)
You're wrong. He is a bad man.
joel Eigen (Lancaster, Pa)
A quote that Hatch would certainly recognize, relative to his craven obeisance to the Orange Menace... For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Suppan (San Diego)
Whatever your religion maybe, when you sell your soul to the Devil there is no buying it back. Gone is gone. Good riddance Sen. Hatch.
Linda (Oklahoma)
The Republican party is just a high school football team anymore. All they care about is winning and if they have to break a few bones or crack a few skulls on the other team, so much the better. What they aren't are grownups governing a country.
Charlie's pa. (Encino CA)
No, Mr. Tomasky. The first sentence in your last paragraph is wrong. Orin Hatch is a bad man. He is not "trapped in an indecent dynamic." He is an indecent, very bad man.
gaynl farmer (columbus oh)
Amen to that...
Arcturus (Wisconsin)
A "decent man" doesn't look at a monstrosity like Trump and say his "presidency might go down in history as the greatest of all time." Hatch is nothing but a gutless political animal who, first of all, is about Orrin Hatch. Good riddance.
William W. Billy (Williamsburg)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic" He is more likely Shirley than a decent man. A decent man cannot do such things, be such an opportunist hypocrite, say the things he says, and remain a decent man. No, he is pure indecency. One cannot be both a good man and be the man he is. These things ARE mutually exclusive. Truth is needed. Time for all to stand up and affirm the truth. This man has no decency. He is toxic and harmful. Enough equivocating! Time to Billy up!
John Brews ... ✅✅ (Reno, NV)
Will Romney do better? He’s on record as being for the rich. But not all the rich are rabid religious right anarchists. Will Mitt go along with these wackos because they are the main backers of the GOP??
Miriam Helbok (Bronx, NY)
Senator Hatch, in a recent exchange with a member of his committee, described his career "stinking." Yes, that is what he said: ""I'm from the poor. I have worked all my stinking career for people who have no chance." Certainly, he made sure that it stinks to high heaven at the end: stinks of doing only for the rich and groveling before our nightmare of a president.
Yuri Asian (Bay Area)
That a Republican Senator lies is unfortunately a breed trait and no surprise. But the current crop of Tea Party GOP Senators has taken it further, easily winning Olympic gold in deceit and deception. For them lying is like breathing. Mr. Hatch is old school. He's an accomplished master of lying -- not just the amateur deceit and doubletalk for the Rotary Club in Salt Lake City -- but to himself. He tells monumental lies that he actually believes are true. He doesn't just tell lies, he lives a lie. His exchange with Sen. Sherrod Brown was borderline pathological. His voice trembling with smoldering indignation that Sen. Brown would dare suggest the massive raid on the Treasury disguised as an historic tax fix for middle Americans was a profound betrayal by the Senate's reigning elder against his own kind. “I come from the poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career for people who don’t have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing it for the rich,” he said. “Give me a break.” That was more than just a jaded pol with a forked tongue. It was a Faustian spasm of delirium from an old man of corroded conscience who feels the presence of Mephistopheles eager to foreclose on a defaulted soul. He got one thing right: his 40 year senate tenure was a stinking career.
Tom (California)
Citizens United decision allows any nutjob billionaire to "primary" any sane Republican.
Purple Patriot (Denver)
Hatch sold out like most other republicans. His integrity is fake.
Giri Iyengar (DC)
"Not a bad man?" Why, exactly?
Greg Lesoine (Moab, UT)
Utah need a Democrat to replace Hatch - a man incapable rational governance. Mitt Romney would just become another rubber stamp for an ultra-right wing Republican Party headed by the most vile and vulgar man in the country. Just like Hatch, Mitt would soon be calling don trump the greatest president ever to live. Pathetic.
Jefflz (San Francisco)
Hatch rolled over for the big Money donors, for the Ryan-McConnell mafia, and for Trump. He goes down in history as a traitor to the people as will all of his Republican cohorts.
Stellan (Europe)
Bad men are men who do bad things. Who cares what their secret thoughts are.
Larry Dipple (New Hampshire)
"And now, the smart bet is that he will be replaced by another decent man, Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney once called President Trump “a phony, a fraud.” The arc of Mr. Hatch’s career suggests that Mr. Romney will use different nouns two years hence, if not much sooner." Romney is also a phony and a fraud, and worse, a hypocrite. He said those things before Trump was elected but had no problem sucking up to Trump when Trump invited him to meet with him about a possible Secretary of State appointment. The "smart bet" is that Romney won't reach across the aisle if he takes Hatch's seat. Because Romney is scared and will continue to suck up to Trump and to the ultra-right wing of their party.
db (sc)
Goodbye, and take that other political coward, McConnell, with you. You both have a lot of explaining to do when you meet your maker.
Artreality (Philadelphia)
42 years at the public trough wasn't enough for this spineless toady, who like the rest of Chump's acolytes, would never disparage their 'leader', and doesn't have to worry about the future...he got his.
Paul N Scott (Minneapolis)
Sad?!? Why is the portrayal so often Republican Officeholder = Victim?
Jimmy Verner (Dallas)
Romney already kissed Trump's ring. Remember when Trump tormented him by suggesting Romney might be Secretary of State?
Chris (NYC)
Hatch was always a corrupt corporate stooge. He’s the one most responsible for the fact that we don’t see “FDA Approved” on bottles of dietary supplements. So people don’t know if they’re taking junk. His family is heavily involved in that business and he successfully kept it out of FDA regulation in the early 1990s.
Glen (SLC, UT)
Hatch is exactly what you get when you have a caucus system instead of a true primary election. See also, Chris Stewart, Mike Lee, and Mia Love. Utah is a theocratic kleptocracy, Bears Ears is just the latest example.
Larry Figdill (Charlottesville)
Being afraid of a challenge from the right was no excuse for Hatch over the past 5 years of his last term, and especially not for the past year in which he became a Trump sycophant. He is old enough that he was not only likely to retire, but even if not planned, losing at this stage would not have been much of a risk to his career, most of which was behind him. The GOP is just out of control power mad. McConnell and Trump have shown them that they can grab power by brute political force, rather than persuasion and deal making, and that's what they've decided to do.
cirincis (Out East)
For all the good he once did, I sincerely hope Mr. Hatch looks back at his conduct at the end of his Senate career and is ashamed. He should be.
pixilated (New York, NY)
While I am appalled, as well as extremely concerned about the recent passage of the tax bill and disappointed in the Senators I thought more rational who voted for it, that is at least understandable in an ideological context. While I think there is reams of evidence showing that trickle down economics, tax cuts and exaggerated deregulation, not only fails to produce what is promised, but fails across the board as recently seen in Kansas, I do see the difficulty of resisting the temptation to use the opportunity of a majority to double down on decades of effort. So, by that measure Orrin Hatch's buy in was not a surprise. What is a surprise is what accompanied his vote and slightly hysterical defense of it and that was his hyperbolic homage to Donald J Trump, a man so profoundly out of his depth and unstable that as of this moment he is threatening the security of the entire planet with his bizarre statements and compulsive tweets. Perhaps Hatch and the other experienced members of the legislature believe they are helping by giving the whirling dervish of dysfunction what he wants, unreserved adulation, but it's the equivalent of giving a profoundly spoiled child everything he asks for and expecting the kid to be so grateful that he will grow up and become a humanitarian. Given that most of these people are parents and grandparents, surely they know he will grow up and be Donald Trump, ungrateful, vindictive and incompetent.
Tager (Sonoma, CA)
What every creditability he had as a bipartisan legislator is gone. Is unthinking embrace of "Trumpism", his unwillingness to give a presidential judicial nominee a hearing and the respect he deserves, marks Hatch as a corruptible sad old man. He is a lesson on how easily politicians sell their soles for short-term gains.
youngerfam (NJ)
Excellent review of Hatch other than the last paragraph. People aren't "decent"; decency is a behavior, a choice of action. And in the last several years, Hatch has consistently shown a lack of decency in his choices and actions. Imagine his mendacity in insisting that the new tax bill is all about helping the poor! There is certainly an indecent political dynamic in Congress, but Hatch plays a big part in the continuity of that indecent dynamic.
Pierre D. Robinson, B.F., W.S. (Pensacola)
Sorry, Senator, but you can't wear the mantle of "decent man" and support Trump.
John A. (Manhattan)
One on one, in terms of private morality or compassion, perhaps Hatch was and is a decent man. But that's not the measure of a public figure's deceny. Hatch has been on the wrong side of war, environmental catastrophe, freedom of expression, civil rights, and social welfare his entire public life. He was a major force gerrymandering our nation toward radical right nihilsm. He was friends with Ted Kennedy (a deeply flawed private figure), and took an interest in Kennedy's personal moral rehabilitation. For that, he deserves some admiration. But it's too bad Kennedy never achieved any comparable influence over Hatch's public morality.
B.Sharp (Cinciknnati)
Goodbye Hatch ! Looking forward to Mitt Romney`s Senate run and his ongoing spat with trump. Mr. Romney once wins will continue his insults of trump. Donald insulted him by inviting him and then denying him of certain position. For me being a lifelong Democrat , I am looking forward to see Senator Romney and who knows he could take up on Donald for a run of money.
speede (Etna, NH)
Perhaps Romney can assume the mantle of McCain as a foil to Trump (though McCain ultimately buckled on "tax reform"), but I doubt it. Romney's principles are flexible. In the primaries he contended that a healthcare system good for Massachusetts wouldn't be good for the country. The subtext, of course, was that what got him elected in Massachusetts wouldn't get him elected elsewhere. And Utah is decidedly elsewhere.
NNI (Peekskill)
42 wasted years. 42 years of a wasted Senate seat. 42 years of conning Americans, 42 years of sanctimonious service to our peril. Goodbye Senator Hatch. Thank you for 42 years of disservice. (New York)
I disagree that Mr. Hatch is a decent man trapped in an indecent dynamic. Mr. Hatch sacrificed any claim to decency when he adjusted his convictions to defend against a primary challenge from the right, which is emblematic of the Republican’s party’s accelerating swing towards autocracy. Then he sacrificed his claim to dignity by licking Donald Trumps boots. Sad!
V (CA)
Hatch's very strong affiliation with the MORMON church would preclude any consideration of women as anything other than "handmaidens."
Vic Williams (Reno, Nevada)
Hatch is the worst kind of craven, cynical opportunist — the kind who stands on the shoulders of others to burnish his image as a fighter for the common man, when he's nothing of the kind. Good riddance; he's long past his sell-by date. Make that sellout date. Unfortunately, he's not alone in the "hallowed" and hollowed-out halls of the Senate.
Steven Merrill (Colorado)
He is not a decent person. He is mean, petty, and vindictive. He started out bad and became worse. The Senate would have been a better place without him.
Sarah (NYC)
The author says "It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." The truth of the matter is good men don't get trapped in indecent dynamics. They rise above it. Hatch has proved that he is just a sycophant. Watching him mouth platitudes to Trump was disgusting. No Mr. Hatch, there is no decency in you. If you were decent, you would have found the true mettle to stand up and speak the real truth. You would have got yourself a backbone and told your Republican colleagues that what they are doing was not in the long term interest of the American people or the country.
Potter (Boylston, MA)
I have no hope for Romney. His trajectory down will be shorter and steep. Indication: After his diatribe about Trump and then his willingness to be interviewed (or taken for a ride) as Trump's Secretary of State.
Gwen Francisco (Seattle)
I would argue that Mr. Hatch is indeed a "bad man." If you are willing to throw sick children under the bus to save your political career, I don't know what else to call you. In early December Hatch explained his failure to fight for CHIP renewal by saying "the reason CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore." Could the Republican tax plan -- for which Hatch lobbied extensively -- possibly be the reason we "don't have money any more?"
Pearl Rosenberg (Charlotte, NC)
Glad to see Orin Hatch go. Still remember him from the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearing.
george (san francisco)
I will never forget the Clarence Thomas hearings and the part that Hatch played. He is not a decent man, period!
Syed Shahid Husain (Houston Tx)
Mr. Romney is an honorable man and it pained me to see him humiliated by the President on the vague hope that he will be offered the job of State and wasn't. Whether he follows Hatch's political trajectory, time will tell.
617to416 (Ontario via Massachusetts)
Decent men trapped in an indecent dynamic aren't helping us now. If they can't break free of the trap than they may just as well be indecent because the result is the same.
mutineer (Geneva, NY)
Mr. Hatch changed who he was because he wanted to stay in power. That meant more to him than his core beliefs. He's a grown man, he made his bed. And in my book he is the very definition of a phony and fraud. We'll see if Mitt sleeps in the same bed as the diminished Mr. Hatch. As he leaves though I do wish Mr. Hatch some sleepless nights as he looks back on a career that meant more to him than the country he was supposed to serve.
Bikerman (texas)
I think that most honorable people would not sell their souls for the filthy lucre that is obtained through dishonorable politics. It's high time to quit calling politicians or others that do this as being honorable or having a high degree of character, but were forced into it by the political environment. They themselves chose a path to turn their back on past achievements for political gain. I'm sorry, but there is thing that we call a "moral compass."
allen (san diego)
the republicans have been hoisted on their own petard. by gerrymandering their safe districts they have handed control of the party over to rabbid reactionaries who unfortunately are the republicans most likely to vote. the convolutions that romney has to go through to get elected will be a good indicator if this is still the case.
Sean (Greenwich)
This essay is a real stretch for Mr. Tomasky. Hatch may have worked in CHIP with Ted Kennedy. But that was after having helped destroy the Clinton plan for universal healthcare. And let's not forget that in 1997 Hatch voted to impeach Bill Clinton on the trumped up charges. Only the corporate press can continue to pretend that this former supporter of the John Birch Society in any way evolved from a moderate to something harder. Backed by the founder of the deranged modern hard-right movement, Ronald Reagan, Hatch was always willing to pander to the ugliest of sentiments, and stir up bigotry and hatred to stay in power. He's the same Orrin Hatch he's always been. No tears will be shed by decent Americans at his departure.
Agnes Fleming (Lorain, Ohio)
Can't say I regret seeing Hatch go. Clearly, despite his earlier career as a politician who could work both sides in an atmosphere of appropriate debate and consensus, however, the indications of a great politician is facing the challenges face on and holding true to one's principles. Hatch was not the latter and caved when the Tea Party thugs invaded Congress in 2010. Hatch was not up to the job nor the leadership role of showing the green horns the ropes. Hatch should have retired then, already well passed his sell by date at roughly 77 when those he presumed to misgovern are forced out at 72, with nothing like Hatch will retire in pension and benefits at taxpayer expense. It's obvious he doesn't have what it takes.
No (SF)
This column describes one-half of the obvious. Yes Hatch is a politician who does what it takes to win, just like EVERY other successful politician, including all of your Democratic heroes.
WeHadAllBetterPayAttentionNow (Southwest)
All this dysfunction in the GOP, and in the Congress, is because of Citizens United and the influence of big money on government. This country needs campaign reform more desperately than anything else. The alternative is what we have now... big money donors who have no interest in the welfare of the vast majority of Americans pulling the strings of their Congressional puppets with no objective aside from self enrichment.
jchowerton (austin, tx)
When life is relatively easy and the legislative choices the same, politicians have the good fortune to build a reputation that they would like for us to believe is the heart and soul of who they are. It's when the choices become more difficult, more complicated as they are today in the world of Trump, that we see politicians for who and what they truly are. Hatch has abandoned his long built principals to support and rubber stamp the sick and misguided path that Trump has set this nation upon. What a waste because that's how his career will be judged as it ends. As my Mom always used to say: "whether you like it or not, you're judged by the company you keep."
Hanoch (USA)
If standing up for individual liberty and fighting the ever-growing encroachment of government control over daily life is an “indecent dynamic”, then I say we need a whole lot more indecency in this country.
Brian (Eastern Shore Maryland)
A person will be judged at the end of a career, not by early decisions or shows of potential. The verdict for Mr Hatch does not look good. QED.
The war on reality staged by the right, and the media's incompetence in countering it, set the stage for their inability to govern. The current state of gullibility, outrage and extremism, carefully cultivated by the right, within their voting base makes it easy to hijack by simply out-lying the establishment GOP.
ExCook (Italy)
I was in high school in UT in 1976 when Hatch first became a Senator. I remember clearly that he ran against his opponent by attacking him for being in office too long (18 years). From Wikipedia: "In 1976, in his first run for public office, Hatch was elected to the United States Senate, defeating Democrat Frank Moss, a three-term incumbent. Among other issues, Hatch criticized Moss's 18-year tenure in the Senate, saying "What do you call a Senator who's served in office for 18 years? You call him home." Hatch ran on the promise of term limits and argued that many Senators, including Moss, had lost touch with their constituents." Now, after being in congress for 40 years, it's obvious from his recent attacks on working-class, poor and unfortunate citizens, that he's nothing more than a vile, pathetic example of a politician totally corrupted by money and power. Good riddance Hatch, you outlived your welcome about 39 years ago!
Brian (Sioux Falls)
Hatch was bought and paid for years ago. He career speaks volumes for term limits.
Kristine Walls (Tacoma WA)
The column did not reference Senator Hatch's legislative support and protection of the questionable supplement/nutritional pill industry, much of which is based in Utah.
RichardS (New Rochelle, NY)
So how do you judge a senator of 42 years, by what he has done or where he leaves us? Here I say both and to Mr. Hatch's credit and discredit, he has exceeded and disappointed at both. He once symbolized good government but when we needed a voice like his the most, he let down the country he served for 36 years. I separate the first six terms from the last because the grievance lies later. I have a difficult time thinking of a Senator that served 36 years as being just a simple representative of his/her state. Somewhere between re-election 3 or 5, they become a national fixture. A face and perhaps a voice of reason. A sensibility of yesteryear. They aren't nostalgic but in fact become nostalgia. That longing for better days long ago when things were easier. And that is why his seventh term weighs so much more than perhaps his first six. Here lies the betrayal of not just America, but of his reading of the Constitution that he for 36 years told us could be trusted with him. That is the lesson here. As Hatch departs the halls of the Senate chamber for the last time, those of us who will miss him, will most likely have to miss the Senator of 36 years but not the one of 42 years. I for one remember Hatch arguing down a fellow member of the Finance Committee in such a belligerent manner I thought I was watching the House on CSPAN and not the Senate. A sad farewell.
Glen (Texas)
I wish Nevada would let the casino bookies handicap political races. There are fortunes to be won and lost on the one for Hatch's seat. Come to think of it, fortunes will be changing hands without any legal wagering being involved.
hen3ry (Westchester County, NY)
In the end Hatch went along with the crowd. He participated in refusing to work with Obama for 8 years. He has now refused to do anything about children's health despite the fact that their continued good health is vital to their success in later life. Perhaps Hatch, like McConnell, Ryan, and the rest of the Greedy Overpaid Patriarchal Party believes his own press or he is as delusional as they are when it comes to what the average American needs. I don't know and, to be honest I don't care. As far as I'm concerned the GOP is a corrupt and failed party that has no intention of working on behalf of 95% of Americans. They are so enthralled by the auras of the uber rich that they have forgotten (if they ever knew) what it is to be a working class American. The only things they represent are qualities better suited to oligarchs and spoiled brats.
Steve Scaramouche (Saint Paul)
Sorry Not Sorry. Hatch has made himself wealthy by pushing legislation that benefits his personal business interests and has lost any claim to the moral high ground by supporting Trump.
RioConcho (Everett)
The night Clinton went on TV during the Starr investigation, Hatch waltzed into every network excoriating him at every stop. The day Trump was heard on the ‘locker room’ video we did not hear a word from the good senator.
Eric Berendt (Pleasanton, CA)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man." It might be better to say that Mr. Hatch was once considered a good man and just proves that people can change for all sorts of reasons. Truly good people, however, don't turn bad just to keep their jobs, especially when they aren't hurting financially. So, for many of us, Mr. Hatch will be remembered primarily as a turn-coat. We'll be mourning the damage to our country that he has abetted rather than the decent human being we once thought he was.
Yuri Pelham (Bronx NY)
We were fooled. Politicians are masters of deception.
sinagua (San Diego)
One of his dubious distinctions-- shepherding the Utah food supplement industry: Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). It seemed like a good idea at the time for his friends and family, but ended up with problems that had to be addressed in later legislation, and people are still sickened by unregulated food supplements because of this act to make them minimally regulated.
VM Stone (California)
Grasping at straws again. Orrin Hatch a 'decent man' and Mitt Romney our 'savior' ? I don 't think so. We need to understand that the rot runs deep and is pervasive. No Republican is going to come along and 'rescue' us, we have to get out of this one on our own. What have we learned? That's the question. If we have learned that if we don't fight to protect our democracy at the ballot box, we risk losing it then we've learned a lot. No Republican in the current climate is going to stand up and be counted. They are going to take the money and run, just like Mr. Hatch.
Doodle (Oregon, wi)
These days, being a Republican and being a good guy seem to be a contradiction. I also notice lately that whenever words like "by partisan" or "governing" are used, they are always in relation to issues concerning the welfare of the non-1%. I wonder that the Republican voters don't notice that. What Republican voters are against CHIP? That is why I am not hopeful that Romney will be savior to today's GOP. He will surely put party over country, his corporate pals over the workers, his money interest over his spiritual integrity. Hatch's 42 years of career is, sadly, a lifetime of him being corrupted by Washington politics.
Glen (Texas)
"What Republican voters are against CHIP?" Apparently, Doodle, millions of them.
Gustav Aschenbach (Venice)
For at least 6 of Obama's 8 years, he reached out time after time to Republicans who returned his gestures with unprecedented public displays of disrespect for him. In the last election, a majority of people voted Democrat, not including all the Bernie-bots who either refused to vote or surrendered their spite to a vote for Trump. Yet Democrats and liberals have been consistently demonized and even labeled "enemies" by right-wing media and demagogues. This is why, when the majority of the country is liberal leaning, Americans seem willing to accept as normal politics a refusal on the part of Republicans to work bipartisan, in the interest of party rather than in the interest of country. Liberals are American, not enemies, and we need to stop accepting and perpetuating the myth that "fly-over country" and "middle America" are the "real" America.
PB (Northern UT)
Orin Hatch makes an interesting case study of creeping moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party and our despicable campaign finance system over the years/decades. If we had publicly financed elections and rules/laws against campaign contributions from rich individuals, groups, crackpot billionaire advocacy groups, and powerful corporations and special interests, I wonder how many of these GOP politicians would be as devoted to tax cuts for the rich, denying climate change, punishing the poor for being poor, and remaining loyal to Trump no matter what Trump does? Suppose all politicians had to do what Bernie Sanders did and "earn" their campaign finances the old-fashioned, democratic way by appealing to us little people. So the message seems to be that Orin Hatch was a decent man, until he--and a lot of other politicians--took the legalized bribes built into our campaign finance system by taking lots of money and their marching orders from the Kochs, the far right-wing Freedom Caucus, etc. So, let's stop making it so easy for politicians to become "indecent," eschew democratic compromise, and sell their souls to big donors. Let's end Citizens United, have publicly financed elections, and reform our election laws (no more gerrymandering by political party, no more voter ID, no more lying about voter fraud in the right-wing media, and let's have jail time for dirty tricks campaigns and trying to sabotage our democratic election process).
peterV (East Longmeadow, MA)
I suppose I could be more critical of the "new version" Orrin Hatch - but, alas, there appear to be no Republicans or Democrats employing the time-tested practice of working across the aisle. If his tenure has devolved and his example of years past now an anachronism, we are in dire straits indeed - and the problem is us!!
fsp (connecticut)
Orrin Hatch would make an excellent poster boy for term limits, as well as age limits. Time for change.
AGC (Lima)
I remember Sen. Hatch defending the indefensible Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra trials. Paying back his dues ?
Theo D (Tucson, AZ)
Based on how Sen. Hatch learned to drink the TEA and shamelessly schemed in the latest tax legislation, Eric Hoffer's quip surely applies to him: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
Mike Boyajian (Fishkill)
So he ends his career as an absolute failure. Sad.
NFC (Cambridge MA)
And Hatch praised Donald Trump as having the potential to be the greatest president ever. No, he is not a decent man trapped in an indecent dynamic. Decent men and women do not prostitute their principles for the donations of selfish billionaires, or the primary votes of hateful wingnuts. If those wingnuts want one of their own as a candidate, that is how the game works. If you let them turn you into a wingnut, you are just as bad as they are. We need some political courage in this country. It seems as if one of our political parties is running on empty.
Richard (Hartsdale, NY)
This is the best response to the article I have read.
AV (Jersey City)
Can democrats win in Utah? We should be able to.
Keith Alt (California)
Sure, as soon as Democrats can run as "pro life."
BobB (Sacramento, CA)
Given the way he votes on almost every issue, I always thought Hatch used his friendship with Ted Kennedy as one of those "some of my best friends are black" ruses.
Will. (NYC)
Reducing the size of the sacred Big Ear national monument for the sole benefit of a uranium minining company. Not a good man at all. Investigate.
Jeff Matherly (Boston)
Lest we forget, check out Orrin Hatch's defense of Clarence Thomas during the Senate hearings on his nomination to SJC including Anita Hill's testimony. Telling Thomas that he has been "a champion for women" and how Hatch wants an FBI investigation about how such allegations occurred. What a sleaze. Good riddance to him.
LBarkan (Tempe, AZ)
I fear for our country. This article illustrates how little the Republicans care about this country. They are not decent. Hatch is not decent. He is a venal, vulgar, opportunistic little man with few morals but, apparently, lots of money he made during his "service" for our country. Good riddance.
Claudia (New Hampshire)
This is an edifying story about a man with a long career, but in the end, I cannot agree the summary "It's not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man." His collaboration with Senator Kennedy on some worthy bills is commendable, but it is not the easy times which test men's souls; it is the difficult times. It is when the tide shifts toward stormy times you see the measure of the man. The man who was a productive mayor, well loved by all, who capitulates when the Third Reich marches into town, who throws in his lot with scoundrels cannot be celebrated as a "good man." Orrin Hatch may be best seen as that fabled scorpion who asks the frog for a ride across the rising river, ahead of the oncoming flood. "No," says the frog, "You'd sting me and kill me!" "Why would I do that, then we'd both drown?" So the scorpion hops on and halfway across he stings the frog, who feels the paralysis setting in and cries out, "Why did you do that? No we'll both drown." "Well," says the scorpion, "You knew I was a scorpion when you allowed me to hop on board." So it is with Mr. Hatch. His true nature was there, all along.
Jake (North Carolina)
Times are indecent, in part, because Mr. Hatch made them indecent.
ClydeMallory (San Diego, CA)
Good riddance to Hatch. That speech he gave the other week extolling Trump was sickening. Hatch is a good example of what's wrong with the GOP.
Joeff (NoCal)
Sorry, but no. Hatch was a reactionary from the get-go. As a freshman he led the charge against labor law reform (which failed cloture and thus passage) by one vote. In 1980 he led the first-ever filibuster against a nominee to an administrative agency (this time he failed). He deployed his whiny, prissy, faux-naïf affect to batter Anita Hill in the Thomas hearings and elsewhere. I for one will be glad to see the back of him.
manfred m (Bolivia)
A sad chapter in American politics, personalized in the hypocrite Orrin Hatch of these last several years, machiavellically piggish, exchanging the bi-partisan spirit he used to have with a savage disregard for decency. And his latest attempt in glorifying our vulgar bully in chief has filled his cup of disregard for the truth and the flagrant abuse of power he became complicit with. Mr. Hatch may be remembered...but not in a nice way; he just doesn't deserve our respect anymore, given that opportunism is he has shown repeatedly...with a straight face. Good riddance.
Theni (Phoenix)
My own recollection of the Hatchet man was in the 80's during the Apartheid days. The whole world was demanding a boycott of SA for their racists policies. Mr Hatch and a bunch of GOPers was still supporting the white regime against what they feared more, the "communist" ANC. It pretty much sealed my belief that this man was a racists of the worst kind. Not much has changed ever since has it? BTW the ANC were not communist!
Deirdre (New Jersey )
Orrin Hatch will be remembered for not funding CHIP (a program he helped to implement) and that ridiculous sycophantic speech he made at the knee of our narcissist president 42 years in the senate and he will be remembered for greed, cowardice and complicity.
Alan R Brock (Richmond VA)
Watching Senator Hatch genuflect before Donald Trump has been pathetic to witness. Actually, it is emblematic of the Republican party as a whole. One can only hope that 2018 will see a reorientation towards sanity.
DukeOrel (CA)
Naw. Too kind to Hatch here. He doesn't deserve it.
Richard Daniels (Linden Michigan)
Good riddance Hatch, you won't be missed. You leave with no dignity and in my mind in disgrace. With your willingness to steal the Garland nomination from an elected president with over three hundred days left in his term, you leapt from distinguished senator to political hack. Shame on you and your memory for not doing the right thing. History will only remember how you kow towed to Trump and you sold your little remaining soul for a few pieces of silver.
Nuschler (hopefully on a sailboat)
You have missed the one major point about Senator Hatch retiring. His increasing dementia. We all saw it on C-Span and viral videos as he lost his temper and yelled while his young assistants were whispering FACTS in his ears. Then you would see his expression like “Oh..Ok.” At home in Salt Lake City, my long-time friends who were in his ward (Church parish) watched how he would be assisted into the room, helped to walk, sit, and stand by two men. He no longer stayed and talked with his fellow Mormons but was whisked away in his limousine. This ward is made up mostly by doctors and business people. They all knew and talked openly about his rapid descent. They were all completely against his running in 2012 and even more vocal about a further run in 2018! “Outrageous!” Trump took advantage of that senility... Shame on him. He cared nothing for Hatch’s history..ONLY how he could use this man no longer capable of intelligent decisions. If Hatch dropped dead in a senate hearing Trump couldn’t have cared less. Reminds me of vulture relatives who visit great grandma in the nursing home, complementing her, getting her to will them the jewelry or house. I knew that once Orrin Hatch went home to be among family and folks who knew him well and LIKED him, that this decision to retire would be made. Just makes me hate Trump more..if that is possible!
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
Get these old Men out of Congress, not to mention the Presidential Apprentice. They want to live like Kings, and have the rest of us live like it's the 1800s. No More. I am Woman, hear me VOTE. November!!!!!
Sipa111 (Seattle)
'"Mr. Romney once called President Trump 'a phony, a fraud.' The arc of Mr. Hatch’s career suggests that Mr. Romney will use different nouns two years hence, if not much sooner." I give Romney two days after his election before he goes down on his knees to Trump like Hatch and McCain, the so called decent men before him.
Harris (New York, NY)
Why would anyone imagine that Mitt Romney will act with greater force to oppose T#ump than have Corker or Flake? Words are easy. Action is hard. And remember, this is the same Romney who, despite the ‘fraud and phony,’ was perfectly willing to debase himself for two weeks when T#ump played cat-and-mouse with him by dangling a shiny object called ‘Secretary of State’.
Sophia (chicago)
The sad trajectory of the entire GOP is enough to make one believe in the devil.
Joseph Damrell (Visalia, CA)
Quackery, sophistry, cruelty: These are Hatch's true legacy. He promoted quack medicine, war, and race-based mass incarceration. He seldom reached across the aisle unless it was to poke liberty in the eye.
David Williams (Encinitas CA)
"The arc of Mr. Hatch’s career suggests that Mr. Romney will use different nouns two years hence, if not much sooner." Huh? Great article until this last sentence. He's not even running yet, but the author has him running, winning, and then going against his principles. Seems a little premature no?
NYer (NYC)
There's nothing "sad" about Hatch's right-wing career and "trajectory" -- basically extreme right, with a (very) few detours into decency... He IS, WAS, and has ALWAYS been a right-wing extremist, supported mainly by extremists: In 1976, "Mr. Hatch ... had the backing of W. Cleon Skousen, a Utah-based far-right conspiracist..."
Down62 (Iowa City, Iowa)
Orrin Hatch is a craven, venal old man, who like others of his kind (Grassley) need to just go away. Alas, Romney will be no better. It'll take a Democratic and Independent wave to send the Tea Party where it belongs: back under a rock.
A sad end to someone who may have left with his head held high. Few walk or run away from Trump without shame. Good riddance.
Nightwood (MI)
Never trust a Conservative particularly those of a religious bent. They are terrified of their God yet go against Christ's teachings. Woe, woe unto them whose real god is power and money and who think not of the little children, the poor, the sick, the prisoners, the alone, the elderly. Mr. Hatch started out decent, but he and the rest have lost their way. Beyond sad.
Steve (Hawaii)
I squarely disagree with the author that Mr Hatch is "a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Big problems ensue when decent men do nothing--in all walks of life. Leadership is about standing up to bullies, thugs and demagogues whether they are heads of parties or enablers. Orrin Hatch and his trajectory toward mediocrity (surely reaching its nadir in his recent toadying to Trump) is exactly what's wrong with the people's government--and calling it "decent," or any other mealy affirmation merely makes we the people part of the problem.
james bunty (connecticut)
There is NOT one decent Republican left in the Senate or House. See Republican corrupt Tax Bill. They are a political party whose time has come for extinction. They have been and are presently in full process of destroying our Democracy or what is left of it. The world now sees the USA as a Fascist country run by an Oligarch class and their bought and paid Republican Party. What a terrible shame on us voters. For any hope left for our children and grandchildren please vote out every Republican out of every office in the upcoming 2018 and 2020 and future elections in Federal, State and Local elections. If Republicans stay in power in 2018 we, the 90% or so are doomed .
Debbie G (NYC)
He's a money grabbing disgrace. I remember him from the Anita Hill hearings. Its past time he was gone. He abandons the poor for tax cuts for the rich and corporations. I wish he was gone from the senate long ago. Grassley hurts the people of this nation. He works for the good of the donor class and abandons his oath of office. I also think most of the GOP has taken Putin's money. I wish Mueller would issue his report
bresson (NYC)
Its simple. Term limits.
SPQR (Michigan)
I hope no one sculpts a figure or bust of Hatch to add to the collection in Statuary Hall in the US capitol. We can just remember the evil that he did, and forget about him as soon as possible. Just another Republican who sold himself and his country for money.
His praise of Trump's "leadership" at the tax reform TV op. pretty much sums up his true character - spineless
Pat (Texas)
How can Tomasky consider Orrin Hatch a "good man" when Hatch changes his stances like the change of the wind?
Glen Macdonald (Westfield)
I take issue with your contention that "It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." The true test of decency (and character I might add) can only be when it is tested by, stands up to and transcends an indecent dynamic. Orrin Hatch has failed that test, just like the rest of his fellow Republicans. The whole lot of them -- under orders from the NRA, the fossil fuel lobby, the Kochs, Murdoch and Adelson -- went straight down the indecent rabbit hole with Donald Trump.
Hank Thomas (Tampa, FL)
He's been a solid MAGA vote in the Senate. Sorry to see him go.
Barbara Strandell (Saint Paul, MN)
Don’t be fooled by Hatch’s friendship with Kennedy. He might have cried at his funeral and voted for humanitarian legislation a few times, but that doesn’t excuse him for being a misogynistic creep and owned by lobbyists. I remember how, in 1978, he denigrated and vilified Sonia Johnson at a senate hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment. How dare a Mormon woman - 5th generation, divorce her husband, defy the Church and advocate for equal rights! His verbal abuse of her was apparently just a prelude to his abuse of Anita Hill in1991. Also, he has lined his pockets for decades with riches that come with helping vitamin and supplement companies avoid ANY regulations by the federal government.
Jim (Churchville)
Mitt Romney will change his denigration of trump once he decides to run for Hatch's seat - just like Ted Cruz did when he knew he was out or the 2016 race.
Jeff M (Middletown NJ)
Lest we forget, no one has ever done more to defraud the American healthcare consumer out of billions of dollars than this man. He made it possible for Utah to become the capitol of quack homeopathy which, to this day, holds a sizable percentage of gullible citizens in its thrall, hoping for "one weird trick" that will cure their fill in the blank. This cynical, criminal enterprise is the senator's lasting legacy to his country, raking in immeasurable riches while those who suffer watch their hard-earned income go down the hatch.
Kay Johnson (Colorado)
Mr. is "not a bad man because he is trapped in an indecent dynamic". No, he is a bad man because he says one things and does another at other people's expense, and masquerading as their representative. Let's stop cutting the wrong people slack. Hatch got rich selling out. He needs to get what comes with that, and it is not respect.
JaneF (Denver)
Sometimes a politician has to do what is right, regardless of the consequences. Senator Hatch, an honorable man, sold his soul to the devil in the name of political expediency. He will be remembered not for his years of bipartisanship, but for his alliance with the treason and incompetence of the Trump Administration.
Tom (WA)
It's Orrin Hatch who is "a phoney, a fraud." The Kochs and Sheldon Adelman and the Goldman Sachs types with sacks of gold count for far more in Hatch's opinion than mere poor children. Let those children sicken and die, but by all means further enrich those who are already as rich as Croesus, the legendary king. Hatch and his Republican colleagues really hate the poor. And they love the rich. There is no other explanation for their actions. And then they loudly proclaim that they believe in the teachings of Jesus. And at the very end of his career, after sliming Anita Hill and Merrick Garland, Hatch nuzzled up behind Donald Trump and then rolled over for his master.
coale johnson (5000 horseshoe meadow road)
and money as free speech continues to pollute our system...... oh, and politicians are spineless.
kirk (montana)
Hatch is a microcosm of the disgraced Republican Party. He sold his soul to the greedy right and is not able to get it back. Lack of morals and a gelatin spine leave a former honest man disgraced and remembered as just another Scrooge (before Scrooge had his epiphany).
Frank (Raleigh, NC)
Just another politician; he goes where the money sends him in our corrupt system. It will only get worse because people are easily fooled and the media does the propaganda for the elite. That is, in the words of Noam Chomsky, they, the media, "manufacture consent" for the elite. They manipulate the public and keep them in fear, in ignorance and confused.
joe hirsch (new york)
His hard turn to the right indicates it was just about maintaining his job. Describing him as a decent man may have been accurate years ago - today it reflects a man with little character and hanging around too long. He said it best himself when he described his career as “stinking”.
nrs (Tulsa)
Why would you feel sorry for Orin Hatch becoming a quisling for Trump and the conservatives? He's had his run and is now "obsolete."
Don K. (Denver)
"It's not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He's surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." I'm wrestling with this concept. He's almost a victim right? Gosh, if it just wasn't for the "indecent dynamic" that he's trapped in, he could be a decent man! Sorry, I'm not buying that. He's not "trapped" in anything. He's a wealthy white man with many incredible options. And if he was truly a decent man, he'd act like one ALL the time. Why give such a pass to poseurs and frauds?
John (NH NH)
It is shameful to headline this article as 'The Sad Trajectory of Orrin Hatch', a honest, good man who has served our country to the best of his ability and intellect for 42 years, and then bury in the body of the article that is the epoch that has not been a happy one, and that is career only reflects the sad trajectory of our times! Orrin Hatch's career is NOT sad, his service is not one of partisan intolerance or miserable ethical violations, it does not contain lies or sexual assaults, or other all too common flaws. Your headline is simply biased and shameful and unreflective of the man - he deserves better. I find it particularly notable and praiseworthy that his last act is to defy Dumb Donald and stand down and make way for Mitt Romney to represent Utah (his defiance is something you somehow forgot to mention in the article). Well done, Orrin, Godspeed and peace to you sir.
sloreader (CA)
Hatch has been deferential, not defiant, when it comes to Trump. The man is disingenuous, at best, and is simply unworthy of praise from any rational being.
DavidE (Cazenovia, NY)
I'm sorry, but defying Dumb Donald by making way for Mitt a week or so after telling the world that "He’s been one of the best presidents I’ve served under". Kissing Trump's ring isn't quite the same as defiance of the man. And let us not forget Mitt's visit to Trump Tower to kiss the same ring, only to leave embarrassed not to be offered Secretary of State. Perhaps the earlier version of Mr. Hatch would have acted differently, but instead Hatch did exactly what every Republican in Congress did, he kissed the ring, and kissed it again and again.
Donald Duprey (Bainbridge Island, WA)
As someone who admired Sen. Hatch's acts of bipartisanship, I think it is more than sad that he jettisoned that approach in times when it was most needed. And while one might ascribe that to the 'trajectory of the times', that trajectory is the sum of the acts of individual men and women in positions of power. It is not an irresistible force. Senator Hatch most recently chose to ride that trajectory rather than resist it, and that is particularly disappointing from a senior Senator with a record of bipartisanship. As for his 'defiance', I have heard not a peep. He did tell Trump that "you’re living up to everything I thought you would. You’re a heck of a leader." Shall we lay that on the times we have sunk to as well?
Oisin (USA)
This guy goes out disgracefully - holding his own bag of lucre after voting to give himself and his rich buddies a big tax cut. Almost makes me believe money & power aren't everything - even for those who have no conscience.
Dissatisfied (St. Paul MN)
What does it say about the moral courage of people like Hatch? Not much. There are no people of moral stature left in our public insitutions. How uninspring that a man who claims to have served the people of Utah and this nation - for these many decades! - is reduced to being a groveling apologist for the most disgusting and disgraceful person ever to inhabit the WH. Shame on you, Hatch. I disrespect you with full contempt.
NNI (Peekskill)
42 years in the Senate and who's grieving - Nobody! To the Tea Partyers he was too far left. To the moderates he was too right. And to the Democrats - he was just a stubborn old man, set in his ways who would do anything to keep his Senate seat warm. 42 years in the Senate with nothing to show for it. On the Judiciary Committee but not for justice. His last act was classic Hatch - giveaway to the rich, Americans be damned. What a wasted life!
John (Boulder, CO)
Good Riddance! Do you realize how many Americans you have hurt!
John David James (Calgary)
No, a “decent” man doesn’t call the indecent Trump “one of the best” president’s ever. Trump is a pathological liar, a sexual predator, a racist and misogynist. Hardly “one of the best”.
Dominic (Astoria, NY)
Hatch just voted for a $1.5 Trillion give-away to corporations and plutocrats at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Savage cuts to our social safety net, which is austere and miserly by the standards of all other advanced nations, are next on the docket due to the hole this blows in our deficit. To add insult to injury, the healthcare of our most vulnerable citizens - children- is in doubt, and in the words of Hatch himself, "we just don't have the money". If this is what you consider a decent man, I can'f imagine an indecent one.
Occupy Government (Oakland)
I didn't recall how Sen. Hatch got elected, but I do recall that he and Ted Kennedy did good work together. But I saw the end coming with that dialogue with Sen Brown. And I squirmed along with the rest of the country with his latest gushing encomiums about Donald Trump, of all people. The good senator should have retired the last time.
Jack (Austin)
“[A] decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic.” For good or for ill that indecent dynamic seems to be a really complicated dance involving politicians, primary voters, general election voters, people who don’t vote, campaign strategists, political theorists, pressure groups, and political donors and what the donors are willing to pay for. It’s hard to know how best to do one’s part to improve the dynamic in a practical and good way that won’t lead to bad unintended consequences. It will be interesting to see what Mitt Romney chooses to fight for and how he goes about it. If there’s an appreciable chance that a person can be a pivotal figure then that person bears a great responsibility.
David (USA)
We see the same process at work here in Iowa. Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Terry Branstad (who last spring left the governor's office to serve as US Ambassador to China) were, earlier in their careers, both relatively moderate Republicans who were willing to work with Democrats on occasion. Like Hatch, however, both Grassley and Branstad moved far to the right in recent years. Politicians largely follow the paths set by broader forces, such as think tanks, PACs, partisan media, etc. Those who try to set an independent course - e.g., Jeff Flake - get shunted aside.
Larry Figdill (Charlottesville)
I am guessing that these politicians always wanted to be extreme right wing, but the nature of the political system in which they operated forced them to compromise and moderate. The modern GOP however is just power mad and willing to work via brute political force.
Darchitect (N.J.)
His sycophantic fawning praising of Trump when the Republicans passed their tax 'plan' was stomach turning. There was the true measure of Hatch..Good to see him go.
RioConcho (Everett)
Exactly. Stomach turning it was, you would have thought he was angling for a position or something!
JHC Wynnewood PA (Wynnewood)
I have always believed term limits were undemocratic; no longer. Not only should we term limit the senate to two terms and the House to four, but we should also require that every member of Congress step down upon reaching the age of 75. It was way past time for Hatch to announcement his retirement.
Mark91345 (L.A)
Then what? So, if you have a Congressperson that is doing a good job, who votes that way "you would", but then they have to step down, what's the point? And, if they're over 75, what now makes them "used up"?
Roberta (Boston)
He can’t be that “decent and honorable “ when you sell your soul for power. For hatch the love of power overruled the power of love.
Sharon Freeto (San Antonio Texas)
Sorry, there is no excuse good enough for the partisan, selfish, ignoramus he has become - not circumstances, not age, not dynamic. The man sold his soul for a few more years as a Senator, and the respect I had for him has dissipated completely. It is a sad commentary on what could have been an admirable career. It is also symptomatic of a Republican party that has chosen to occupy the gutter of governance!
Chris Hunter (Washington State)
Sorry, you had me up to that last paragraph, the one about Hatch being a "decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." I'm sorry but the truth is that people are what they are at the current time, not what they used to be. I understand your portrait of a legislator changed over time, by the forces and circumstances around him. But a good man, if he is one, changes his environment to the better. He is not changed BY his environment to become lesser. Good riddance Hatch.
Michael Hickey (PA)
The good news is another moral mediocrity rides off into the sunset. The bad news is there's plenty more where that came from.
Katherine (California )
Hatch totally disgraced himself with his slavish praise of Trump following passage of the tax bill.
mike king moore (Montecito, CA)
Mr. Hatch has become a bad man, and it's important we say so. Decent men don't vote to do to harm children, for example. Stop pulling your punches.
Alan Chaprack (NYC)
Someone who doesn't want to hear about funding a health insurance yet pass a tax bill that gives breaks to the more-than-haves is the very definition of "a bad man."
terry (winona mn)
Not a very honorable person. Sold his soul and his integrity to survive. Joins a long list of Republicans who have done the same. Sorry Christina, your Grandfather does not love his country...he became intoxicated with power and like so many began taking joy in beating up on the defenseless, those on the margins, people in the shadows and the helpless. Sad legacy...the Senate and certainly the nation will be better off without him
David in Toledo (Toledo)
As #45% [plus the 1% who got the big tax cut] would say, "Sad."
M. W. (Minnesota)
Mr. Hatch has always been worthless. He has done little to nothing for the people of the United States. No he is not a decent man, he is one of only 100 senators that has been given the duty to defend the constitution and to represent his state and country. He has let them down, with his petty interests and selfish greed. Literally millions of Americans could have done a better job than he did. Just like Mr. Franken is going to easily be replaced, the position is not about the individual, it is about the country and the constitution. The senate is crowded with individuals who answer to no one and could care not a wit about the average citizen. Our government is corrupt and broken and Mr. Hatch is but one of many.
TheBestDefense (Massachusetts)
No, Orin Hatch is not a decent man. We must not give honor to politicians who betray our country for their own ego. Maybe some day he will acknowledge his failures as a man and as a Senator, or maybe he will just die and we can write the true epitaph he deserves.
Hatch is no longer a decent man. One's reputation isn't static. It's difficult to find a Republican in either house who is serving the people. They've lost their souls to support the tawdry, inept, soulless child sitting in the Oval Office. Hatch is emblematic of a deep problem in Congress: Republican first, American second.
sanderling1 (Maryland)
They sold themselves to the Koch brothers and the Mercers in exchange for campaign contributions. The Republican Party appears quite eager to represent and champion an authoritarian, corporate vision of America.
Charles (Mass.)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Sorry, no -- he is surely a bad man, since he is a Republican. I have had the opportunity to meet him and can confirm this assessment.
Aaron (Orange County, CA)
42 years as Senator! What a colossal waste of taxpayer money! He could have done so much more by serving as a mentor and leader- developing a new generation of people to replace him! He and his colleagues never think of their replacements; they just want to hold on power at all cost. They are "pseudo servants" to be bought and sold by their donors. Good Riddance! Don't let the don't hit you on your way out. FYI-- Diane Feinstein will be 92 at the end of her term.. Her career record is no better than Old Man Orrin.
WJB226 (New York)
It is what happens, again and again, when a person treasures their status and power over the benefits of their accomplishments. It happens when being there is more important than what you are doing when you are there. Orrin Hatch is a man more interested in his power and status, and no longer interested in doing what's right. Shame on him!
John Epstein (Brooklyn, NY)
And let's not forget the execrable role Hatch played during the Clarence Thomas hearings. His questioning of Anita Hill was truly a nasty event.
Jim (Ogden UT)
Hatch's choice to be indecent wasn't the fault of the dynamic. As a Mormon, he believes in free will. He could have acted decently, but that might not have ensured his wealth and power.
Clifford (Cape Ann)
Whether is was legislation for protecting endangered species or for being proactive on climate change, water/energy efficiency, wilderness preservation or Keystone XL, Mr. Hatch's record on the environment is not sad, it is abysmal. He's the poster child for bought-and-paid-for Washington Establishment Republicans who put corporate interests above the higher interests of the people of Utah. Just as he is now a shameless Trump sycophant, his life-long record of corporate shilling at the expense of the environment is equally as audacious.
mickeyd8 (Erie, PA)
Orin Hatch should be the Poster-Child for the mandatory retirement age movement. Forget Term Limits, people who have no future should not be allowed to impose their will on a future they will likely not enjoy. After 75, we need to get somewhere and Sit Down.
Robert Blankenship (AZ)
I would advocate for a 70 year mandatory retirement. Hatch is well past his "sell by" date.
sandhillgarden (Fl)
Make that 65. Spoken by a 65-year-old.
Susan (Paris)
A “decent” Orrin Hatch caught in an “indecent dynamic?” No, Orrin Hatch has been working overtime for some years now to prop up and perpetuate that “indecent dynamic” to benefit himself and his family and donors. Denying healthcare to nine million poor American children while giving a tax break to the wealthiest Americans can only be described as obscene and immoral. Some politicians like Jimmy Carter grow in stature, wisdom and compassion as they age, while others like Hatch shrink into “little, little men.”
Everyone, please stop blaming the politicians for the polarization of American politics. These men and women, in recent years, have had to become more partisan and polarized in their viewpoints in order to survive primary challenges from fringe elements in their respective parties. First from the right and now the left is catching up. The blame needs to be placed with the voters who support these types of fringe candidates. I personally know voters on the right and left sides of the political spectrum who view the opposite side with vitriol instead of trying to understand their viewpoints and extract some constructive criticism from those who may disagree. I can see it in some of the extreme comments made by individuals in these forums - whether it be on this site or more conservative sites such as Fox News.
Texas (Austin)
I've never had respect for Hatch. Perhaps he's a good guy. If so, then the adage is further supported: "Everyone touched by Donald Trump is diminished."
Tony (Tulsa, OK)
"biomedical research, child care, AIDS and civil rights for the disabled." If these things were once bipartisan causes, they aren't anymore. The current GOP doesn't believe in governing, especially if it means helping the poor and the sick. I wish that were partisan hyperbole, but just look at them. Not only do they not believe in government doing things to help people (except the rich), they are required to reflexively oppose anything Democrats are for. All this because the Koch brothers and their ilk think they know what's best for the rest of us. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions on how to relieve them of this notion, as authoritarian as any notion can be, slapped with a bumper sticker that reads "freedom."
Kathy (Oxford)
I disagree with the last paragraph - Mr. Hatch is not a decent man and he is a bad man. No decent legislator would do such an about face to keep his power and position. It's one thing to do it during campaign rhetoric but he lost it during the heated exchange with Senator Brown who argued that CHIP needed funding not tax cuts for the wealthy. Mr. Hatch bellowed - in a ridiculous argument - that he'd grown up poor (but will be leaving Congress very rich and even richer with the tax cuts he voted for.) He then had the gall to say he worked with Democrats. That would be several years of amnesia to make that statement true. Refusing to even hold a hearing on Merrick Garland shows whatever decency he once had was gone. Orrin Hatch lost his moral compass. Too scared to even cast a vote outside party rhetoric then slathering praise on a president, pretending adding over a trillion dollars to our debt was the right thing; that was painful to watch. I'd like to think his realization of what he'd just done caused him to rethink running again but more likely it's the realization of the financial windfall coming his way. That or the realization even Utah no longer respects him.
Not only Orrin Hatch, every Republican senator and member of House lost their mind ( may be except McCain and Collins). The most used word in politics today in Washington DC is Tribalism and that mentality does not let them work for the country. They serve themselves and their donors. Hatch used to be a nice man. It is sad.
William LeGro (Oregon)
"He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Really? Does a decent man do indecent things? Repeatedly? To label a man decent when time after time he not only votes against his own prior history, which was certainly based in some degree of decency, but against morality itself is to make the word "decent" meaningless.
CA (Berkeley CA)
One of my senators, Diane Feinstein, has not always voted as I and many other Californians would like. She has remained firmly in the center, working with the other side whenever she could. And she has been elected again and again. If she does not survive a challenge from the left this year, it will be because of her age, not her centrism. Hatch should not be excused; he was a coward when he could have been a leader. Once the coal mines have disfigured the Escalante region, it should be renamed Hatch National Park to memorialize his final offense.
DLNYC (New York)
Your write, "He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Then what does that make Republicans who have finally left that Party? Very-very decent? Really, there is no way that a "decent" or "moral" or simply "conscious, caring and patriotic" person can stay in a Party like that. There is even less chance of someone who serves in the legislature as a very loyal member of that Party having his actions and thus his character judged by history as "decent." In the past, it was nice for his critics and Democratic colleagues to be generous in their assessment of him, harking back to a time when GOP Senators were in favor of all sorts of increasing-income-inequality policies, but were open to dialogue and compromise. Occasionally they would even acquiesce to some progressive Democratic legislation like CHIP. That time is done. The Republicans are at an ideological extreme that simply has no room for "decent."
P. Bourke (RI)
Unfortunately, Orrin Hatch forfeited any place of honor in our country's story when he shredded his oath of office and acceded to his party's theft of a US Supreme Court seat by disallowing any hearing for a sitting president's nominee. Senator Hatch claims to be a fighter; it's too bad he lost sight of what the great battle for American democracy is all about.
sloreader (CA)
So "Every good fighter knows when to hang up his gloves"? I beg to differ. All too many have waited too long, including Senator Hatch. Witness his recent robust admiration for President Trump, calling him a "heckuva leader" and claiming he may be one of the best Presidents of all time. Clearly Senator Hatch should have his head examined.
Ruben Kincaid (Brooklyn, NY)
In Orrin Hatch's case, it was all about money in the end. His defense that he could work across party lines means nothing now in the face of his financial backers. His defense that he grew up in poverty means nothing now. Senators should have term limits and age-limits to prevent their corruption. Hatch is proof of that.
K Henderson (NYC)
And so begins the process of renovating Romney's reputation. This is the fifth article so far this week I have seen in the nytimes that refers to Romney with a positive spin. Does no one remember Romney of 2 years ago?
Adam (Arkansas)
yeah, a heck of a lot has changed in two years. Guys like Romney, McCain, and Bush seem positively appealing in light of recent events.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
I always admired Orrin Hatch, for his fiscal views and support of defense, his integrity, his personal grounding, his willingness to dicker and his social progressiveness. But much of what Tomasky writes about his “trajectory” is accurate – Hatch survived politically when other Republicans didn’t by protecting his right flank as the Tea Party rose in reaction to a liberal onslaught; and he’s really done nothing to moderate that protectiveness of his right flank since, when he might have been a leader at incrementally returning us to the kind of moderation that must exist to find common ground, compromise and move forward sustainably. But Tomasky’s column reads like a eulogy, and Hatch isn’t dead. He’d be an excellent choice to succeed Jeff Sessions at any time as AG or Rex Tillerson if our SecState eventually becomes TOO disillusioned. He’d also be a superb choice to replace Anthony Kennedy if he actually manages to retire, except that at Hatch’s age he wouldn’t represent the kind of generational impact on the Supreme Court that Trump achieved with Gorsuch and may be seeking for future picks. Tomasky’s dig at Romney’s likely arc as senator, supporting the far-right, may be poorly reasoned. I see such service as a two-year run-up to Romney’s last shot at the brass-ring in the Republican presidential primaries of 2020. While he certainly would participate and support efforts to pass Republican legislation, he also would seek to position himself as the NOT-Trump.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
It likely will take younger and more energetic men and women as elected officials to establish successful trajectories that keep America basically center-right while defending against future liberal onslaughts. For the time being, the best immediate outcome would be for Trump to cashier Jeff Sessions and replace him with Hatch, leaving an appointed Romney replacement eleven months to firm-up his claim to the seat and giving us once again a man of unquestioned probity as Attorney General.
Todge (seattle)
Or he will try to out-Trump, Trump. He'll no longer be troubled by expressing his real views about the 47% who are moochers and losers. This will form the centerpiece of his rhetoric and he will do it with pride. After all, it worked for Trump. And maybe MItt still has a score to settle with the incumbent. He won't worry about stories about dogs on car-roofs - that's chump change these days. And he can be unabashedly mean about minorities and people he considers are sexual deviants.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
Todge: I don't believe it's in Mitt Romney to do any of those things. However, he COULD spend his time poking fun at berserkers from Seattle.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Senator Hatch has shown how it is possible to sell one's soul and still regard oneself as an honorable man. I have to believe that the remaining Republican congressmen and senators have all had the same decision to make: get with the program of those flooding the party with dark money in the wake of Citizen's United, or get primaried out. Recent performances by once respected figures like Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain reinforce this view. Even at such a late time of life, Hatch and McCain, offered a chance at redemption, respond by choosing party first, even though their party long ago ceased to be a force for anything but serving the richest members of society.
rj1776 (Seatte)
Wonder if Roberts/Alito have ever had second thoughts about drowning their country's political stem in big money.
Nora M (New England)
Both McCain and Hatch are millionaires in their own right. Did you expect them to rise above self-interest?
Mark Hugh Miller (San Francisco, California)
Mr. Tomasky is generously forgiving in assessing Orrin Hatch as "a decent man in an indecent dynamic." But I think we have to hold our lawmakers to the highest standards of personal integrity to dedication to the common good. Time was I thought Mr. Hatch fit the bill, but the political play-acting of recent years Mr. Tomasky recounts here is a shameless betrayal of everything Edward Kennedy stood for as a fellow senator. When I hear Mr. Hatch recite GOP talking points, I can only sigh. He used to have principle along with ambition, but his ambition spawned a preening vanity that ultimately trumped principle. What we're left with is just another suit, bespoke but empty.
Christina Catron (Provo, Utah)
I am a grandchild of Senator Hatch. For years, I ignored politics to avoid people telling me that my own grandfather was this or that. In the last two years, I have become much more informed and involved. I disagree with several things that my grandpa has supported or said. That said, he is a wonderful man. He loves this country and loves the state of Utah with his whole heart. A few times in the past year, I have angrily challenged him on issues I disagreed with. He was kind and open-minded and answered all of my questions. He words convinced me (though I'm no expert) that he has thought about these issues. I don't disagree with a lot of the things in this article. I barely know about a time where Republicans and Democrats weren't fiercely divided on every single issue. Those times seem surreal to me, even unbelievable. I do think he has become a part of that, and it makes me sad. That said, I know he is a good man. I am 100% sure that if one of his constituents were to spit in his face at Costco one day and then ask him for help the next day, he would do it without guile. I am happy he is retiring. He deserves a rest after almost no breaks for the last 41 years. He's been a senator since my mother was 11, and he's been a fantastic (albeit extremely busy) father and grandfather during those years. Maybe this hasn't been the best last few years politically, but he devoted his life to this country and the state of Utah, and I will always admire him.
DLNYC (New York)
It is courageous of you to write a letter here. You reveal yourself to be an independent minded person who has some disagreements with your grandfather. Perhaps he will be kind enough to read through the comments here in your presence, so that the two of you can discuss them. You say you are "no expert" but you clearly have expertise in communicating with your grandfather. The greatest contribution you could make to the causes you believe in, and to your relationship with your grandfather, would be to sit down with him and read through these together.
Pete (Oregon)
I'm not much of a Hatch fan but have just become a Christina Catron fan. Your love of a grandfather with whom you don't always agree shows the way back to those times when our leaders could disagree but still usher us toward a reasonably acceptable version of the common good. Thank you for this.
Mark91345 (L.A)
People seem to go "for the jugular" in today's world. There is no weighing or measuring the pros and cons of issues anymore. Our government cannot last if we focus on "mono issues". Senator Hatch was loved among his constituents, or he would not have been elected and re-elected. I thank him for his service and wish him a happy retirement.
C D (Madison, wi)
Let's be honest here, I have observed politics for a long time, and Hatch is just another "moderate" Republican. What is a "moderate" Republican? Well they are the personable. affable fellows who disguise their racism in coded language and dog whistles, they disguise their misogyny in the guise of "protecting family values". Sure, they are personally pleasant and polite, but the values they represent, have since the advent of Goldwater have been reactionary. It is long past time to stop separating the personal and the political. You can be a "nice guy" and still represent absolutely hideous values. I am reminded of this when you look at the pictures of smiling German concentration camp guards at picnics. Nice reasonable people weren't they. If you vote for and support someone like Trump, you are not a good person. Period.
Maureen Steffek (Memphis, TN)
Sell your soul to the devil is my evaluation of the current Republican Party. Reminds me a lot of Neville Chamberlain, but Appeasement never works. Please do not include these individuals in the group of decent men. Decent men do the right thing no matter what others are doing. Kipling pointed it out in his poem "If". In fact, the poem reflects the current situation pretty accurately. It was written in 1895, the waning years of the predominance of the British Empire. Perhaps an omen of our own country's future.
Linda (Massachusetts)
Calling Mitch Romney a decent man is a matter of debate. I don't think he is any different than the man he has condemned as a fraud and con. Romney got elected in MA by running as a New England Republican, i.e. liberal on social issues and moderate on economic issues. But once in office, he clearly was more concerned about staying one term to then begin a campaign for presidency. He quickly changed all his major positions on issues ranging from abortion to same sex equal rights to health care to education. He portrayed himself as a Republican who could work to get things done by working with Democrats. In reality, he tried to veto hundreds of votes that helped average MA residents, including offering dental care to Medicaid recipients, decimating our higher education system, etc. There was no cooperation with the people or legislature which overturned almost every single one of his efforts. As a presidential candidate, he espoused almost the exact same policies as hard line right wingers. Finally, his ultimate fall from potential "decent man" status was when he thought Trump would name him Secretary of State. He grovelled and praised the very man he had condemned only because he wanted this position. He's no decent man. I venture that he does not have a true moral compass.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
Linda's should be a NYT Pick for its information about Romney's governorship.
Hychkok (NY)
There is nothing decent about Mitt Romney, who turned against his own successful health care plan. He could have changed America and brought health care to so many, but he chose to abandon it -- and the health of millions of Americans -- in order to get the approval of the howling troglodytes who wanted, and still want, to tear down anything resembling good governance. Romney, after insulting Trump, crawled to him after Trump won the election, hoping for a cabinet position in the Trump administration. Like McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, Romney talked the talk, then he walked the Trump walk. They all insult Trunp and swear they are good, independent politicians. Then they vote 100% with the GOP. Les see this "decent" Mitt Romney in action, shall we?
Andy (NYC)
No longer are ANY of the Republicans decent, from Hatch to Collins to McCain. Tax cuts for Koch bros and corps before serving the people? That is their legacy now. Let's start by taking away THEIR (lifelong) great insurance -- then let's end by booting them all out of office.
David Gustafson (Minneapolis)
A decent man "trapped" in an indecent dynamic of his own making, a man who cooperated wholly in the creation of that dynamic -- and one who profited personally and vastly from that creation -- is no longer a decent man. Having that tag, or any laudatory label, applied to you once doesn't make it forever. You have to work at it. Mr Hatch stopped working at being a decent man long, long ago.
dmckj (Maine)
Why is it that the most religious of politicians are typically those most willing to sell their souls for political expediency? Says much about religion in general, doesn't it?
AJ North (The West)
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." — Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger, 4 BCE - 65 CE)
Edgar Brenninkmeyer (Boston)
It's about bad philisophy and theology, not necessarily religion as such. America, as Kurt Andersen shows in his book "How America Went Haywire. A 500-Year History", has suffered and continues to suffer grievously from dangerous fantasies masking as religion (including, and not limited to, Ayn Randism and the trickle down gospel) . No sound philosophy nor sound theology there. None. But ill-begotten fantasy everywhere.
Dadof2 (NJ)
Hatch has always been the definition of a 2-faced politician throughout his career. His absurd reversal on Merrick Garland wasn't anything new--it was TYPICAL! When Clarence Thomas was named for the Supreme Court and Anita Hill came forward, Hatch was relentless in his attacks on her, despite her testimony being solid, unshakable, and ultimately, confirmed by all kinds of other sources. But when Paula Jones came forward with her ridiculous lawsuit, filled with all sorts of contradictions in her accusations of President Clinton, Hatch took exactly the 180 degree opposite position from just 6 years earlier, and, instead attacked the President relentlessly and happily voted to convict on Impeachment. Clearly, the ONLY "moral fiber" in Orrin Hatch is: Is it good for me and the Republican Party? Period. Good riddance! Mitt Romney will be a significant improvement.
Chris (Boston)
The comments about "decency" are spot on. I would also add that Hatch has lost another important characteristic---integrity. Lest anyone think we are being too "judgmental", I suspect that Hatch has known for quite some time that he would not again run for re-election. What would he lose by being honest? Financial security in his retirement? Not likely. Not being invited to certain clubs? Why should he care at this point in his life? As disturbing as his comments and actions have been of late, his comment that there is no money for CHIP gives us yet another astounding irony. I imagine Senator Kennedy is shaking his head in disappointment.
Chuck Burton (Steilacoom, WA)
How many unethical and conniving actions (recently Garland and CHIP) does a man have to take before "balanced" journalists stop saying "I'm sure he is a decent man?" I'm sorry, but decent men do not enable and perpetuate degeneracy, racism, voter suppression and the unraveling of the social safety net. The only way that Hatch differs from a standard criminal is that his felonies are suborned by the plutocracy.
Jon Stamell (New York)
I am curious why you feel surely that Mr. Hatch is a decent man. His political conduct the last few years does not indicate this in the least.
Memphrie et Moi (Twixt Gog and Magog)
Mr Orin Urial Heap Hatch is a very very bad man. I remember him from the Clarence Thomas hearing and he is the embodiment of what ails America. Yesterday is gone and men who worship old ideas and old ways of doing things endanger the lives of our children and grandchildren. The cloying unctuousness of Uriah Heap Hatch who always demeaned those he thought below him on the social scale and his willingness to extol the virtues of those who he perceived as being above him set the stage for 2018 where America has an insane executive , incompetent legislatures and a justice compromised judiciary. The only question Mr Uriah Heap Hatch leaves behind is whether America can recover from being the kind of country its founders sought to escape.
William A. Meyerson (Louisiana)
I too, remember Senator Hatch working closely with Senator Edward Kennedy. Those were truly the "good old days" when our elected representatives in The House and The Senate actually made working together the rule as opposed to the exception. This is almost unheard of today. North and South Korea may soon get along better together than Republicans and Democrats do in DC. It is both understandable and sad that Senator Hatch resorted to mud slinging to get elected his last term. He chose the mud, instead of working together, which is what he had been doing for his most of his career in the Senate. In with a bang and out with a whimper. There is one silver lining: he left in spite of Trump begging him to stay.
It's almost over (nyc)
Oh, please, democrats and republicans used to be adversaries in Congress and friends outside. Hatch was always in the pocket of big business. Look at what he did with the over-the-counter vitamin/minerals claims not requiring proof. Snake oil turned into a huge industry under his guidance. How much was he paid?
Paul Richardson (Los Alamos, NM)
Longevity in Senatorial office combined with hubris has apparently left only a husk of Mr. Hatch's former integrity intact. A good example for the creation of term limits.
Basic (CA)
R's only seek compromise when they're in the minority. When they're in control there isn't so much as a token effort to compromise. Compare and contrast the ACA process (months of debate, multiple committee hearings, expert testimony, included over 100 R amendments, etc.) to the process for the Great R Tax scam.
Twill (Indiana)
Expert testimony? Perhaps,( whatever "expert" means....Krugman?!!?) but as far as I could tell not a single citizen, caregiver, patient, doctor or nurse was given an ounce of consideration
keepgo (Boston)
Just for the record, neither Hatch nor Romney is a decent man. Their words and deeds have proved that beyond a reasonable doubt.
sm (new york)
They say everybody has a price , in selling out they pay a price . Perhaps Mr. Hatch is ruing what he has been responsible for , once you do the bidding of the politics involved and go against your principles , all the good you have done is overshadowed by all the harm you have done. It is time to get the big money out of politics and get principled men and women in office that will not be tempted to waver and sell out their principles .
Dominic (Astoria, NY)
Based on recent votes, there aren't any "decent" Republicans in the Senate. I can't wait for November. I'm looking forward to kicking a number of them into the unemployment line and replacing them with Democrats who actually care about people other than the wealthy.
Rose (St. Louis)
The arc of Mr. Romney's career also suggests he will not call Trump "a phony, a fraud," should he run for Hatch's senate seat. It is a relatively new phenomenon that Congressional Republicans love their jobs so much that they are willing to sell their souls to keep them. Perhaps Mr. Hatch, when again an ordinary citizen (well, not a senator), can explain how that happens and what is more important than one's soul.
beaujames (Portland, OR)
How can a demonstrated hypocrite who demonstrates no discernable consistency of viewpoint be called a decent man? Yes, the dynamic is indecent, but that's the time for decent people to step up. Instead, we got what you document.
Pdxgrl (Oregon)
A Dorian Gray career. It's actually really sad. That man used to stand for something extraordinary.
Phillip Vasels (New York)
Orrin Hatch-the art of the chameleon.
Barry (Florida)
Ultimately, the problem lies with the caliber of voter that resides in Utah. Like any recipe, the product is only as good as the ingredients in it. Utah voters have placed themselves in the Devil's embrace with their fervor for the Grand Old Plutocracy's ideology and platform, so what else can be expected from their elected representatives?
KM (Detroit)
A politician cares about the next election. A political leader cares for the next generation. Take a wild guess on which side Mr. Hatch belongs!
Dave (Western MA)
Hatch has loved to invoke Ted Kennedy's name as if to elevate himself as a bipartisan life form. Watching him grovel in front of Trump last week at the tax love-in was one of the most disgusting moments in human history. What a crash-and-burn moment.
RLW (Chicago)
It is sad to see 'former legislators' like hatch become Republican voting stooges just because they fear not being re-elected. Instead of going down in history as good men who were overrun by their political party machine, men like Hatch will be remembered as political hacks. How sad!
Mookie (D.C.)
I'm looking for the article about Democrats reaching across the aisle to govern rather than being part of the resistance movement. Maybe you can start with the six Congressmen calling for Trump's impeachment. When will you be writing that article, Mr. Tomasky?
Nicole (Falls Church)
Never, because the country is in extreme danger due to an unqualified Chief Executive who cares only about what he can get away from. My question is why only a mere six representatives want trump impeached. #notmypresident
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
When the ruling party is writing legislation completely in the dark and using political tricks to get it passed, legislation which will by all expert accounts actively harm the majority of this country's citizens and benefit only the very rich, then uniting to actively resist is an act of patriotism. When success comes down to a single vote, resisting as a unified block is the only way. The great moral issue of our time is whether, and to what extent, people were willing to stand together against the corruption of Trumpism and Kochism, which have come to define the Republican party. That party is now rotten to the core, even to the point of trying to quash investigation into Russian cyber-assault on our democratic institutions, and either mutely cooperating with or actively praising (as Hatch has done) the most corrupt man ever to hold the position of POTUS. If there are republican representatives willing to work on legislation that would truly benefit this country, of course they will find support from the Democrats. But they will also find themselves completely at odds with their own party in doing so. We live in very unusual times, perhaps the moral equivalent of the civil war. Those who love this country and what it stands for need to stand together. "Reaching across the aisle" only works when there is good will and good intentions on the other side. As Orrin Hatch has shown, that is not a workable assumption right now.
Ashley (Maryland)
Maybe he was an effective leader who reached across the aisle 20 years ago, but what is he know? Benedict Arnold started the Revolution as one of the most die-hard patriots, but that's not his legacy.
A truly decent man does not sell his principles and his soul to retain power. He does not tell himself that the greatest good is keeping his Senate seat. He "knew what he had to do" in 2012? No, he did not have to do what he did, and he thereby forfeited his claim to honor and decency. After 42 years in the Senate he will likely, and appropriately, be remembered for his disgusting and degrading words about Trump, "the greatest presidency" ad nauseam. What has happened to the minds of these Republicans? A decent person cannot understand it.
Lauren (Denver)
Here's a thought. If Mr. Hatch and other retiring republicans want to salvage their legacies, how abut skipping the usual K Street money grabs or Fox News sellouts. Instead, these elected officials could retire and actually do something good for their country by taking on the SCOTUS Citizens United decision. Step up and spearhead a constitutional amendment drive to overturn this impediment to democracy. Are you listening, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fl), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and the dozens of others leaving??
Genugshoyn (Washington DC)
Remember his treatment of Anita Hill. He is NOT a decent man.
Sambam (California)
We must have different definitions of the term "decent" - a man who demonizes a truly outstanding and well meaning President because the racists and bigots in his party demand it, is not decent. A man who would let tens of thousands of kids lose their healthcare coverage is not decent. A man who has spent his career ensuring that bogus health supplements are completely unregulated, in exchange for millions in payoffs from that industry, is not decent. Good riddance, Orrin Hatch - what a waste of a 42-year career and Senate seat.
Greg Jones (Cranston, Rhode Island)
History is fulled with "decent men, caught in indecent dynamics". They do most of the killing.
JNR2 (Madrid, Spain)
So Romney's the heir apparent? Great . . . another empty suit to vote the party line.
Top Quark (Arlington VA)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Sorry, but there's no such thing as retroactive decency. You're either decent or you're not, based on your current words and actions (mostly actions). And Hatch has proven for years that he is fundamentally indecent, to the point that he will deprive poor children of health insurance to benefit the wealthy -- even when he's not running for reelection. He's a disgrace to humanity.
Charles trentelman (Ogden, utah)
The arc of mr. hatch's career tells me that it is time for term limits -- maximum of two for a senator. Why? Senators are no longer are interested in governing because they are in mortal fear of losing their jobs. If no job guarantee exists -- if it is, in fact, specifically legislated against -- than the fear of being booted out no longer exists. The only motivation will be one of governing and public service. With only 12 years, max, to make a mark, maybe their better natures will take over. Yeah, I believe in miracles and fantasies, but those are better than what we have now.
Frank F (Santa Monica, CA)
The problem with term limits is that it pretty much ensures that legislators will use their time in office as an extended audition for their future employers.
Mike (Salt Lake City, UT)
Term limits cut both ways. Imagine Senators with 6 years to do whatever they want, knowing they can't be re-elected, only hired by the companies whom benefit the most from their legislation. With no voters to face or fear back home, why should we expect them to serve in the voters' best interests on a final term?
Kay Zercher (Austin)
If Senators have no fear of being booted out by their constituents, then doesn't that defeat the purpose of a republic? I thought that our representatives were supposed to be just that - citizen representatives. They win elections because we voted for them to represent us. If there is no fear that they will loose an election, will they still be responsive to their constituents needs and requests?
Pam Gardiol (Ogden Utah)
Neither Hatch nor Romney is from Utah. Both have come to the state only to exploit it for their own agenda. I find it interesting that the nation seems to think that Romney is the heir-apparent. I hope the people of Utah will examine all candidates to select the person most likely to govern rather than build a personal empire as Mr. Hatch has done. So far, while Mr. Romney has many fine qualities, I have yet to see him understand much beyond privilege and entitlement. What was that percentage he mentioned during his campaign...
Frank Heneghan (Madison, WI)
Yes , Sen. Hatch was an effective legislator with Ted Kennedy until the political Tea Party wind was in his face. I certainly doubt that his friend and liberal ,the "lion " of the Senate , Kennedy would ever modify his positions in the face of changing times. Sen. Hatch is the epitome of the leaderless Senate. Let's hope Mitt Romney doesn't hurt his back bending over to shine Trump's shoes.
Grant (Seattle)
When Senator Hatch angrily told Senator Brown that "he cam from a poor background, and grew up with nothing", Senator Brown should have told him to start voting as if he still were poor!"
John (Los Angeles, CA)
In summary, Hatch was and is a rank political opportunist. Don't try to glorify him.
only (in america)
I would have started with Anita Hill. "[N]o one trashed Anita Hill with more zest" than Orrin Hatch. Zero integrity thereafter.
Steve Kennedy (Deer Park, Texas)
" As midnight approached, Republicans on the usually collegial committee united to push an amended version of their tax overhaul toward the Senate floor, prompting an angry exchange between Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, the committee chairman and Utah Republican, over who really benefits from the bill. 'That whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point,' Mr. Brown said. “Just spare us the bank shot, spare us the sarcasm, and the satire.” ... Mr. Hatch said. 'I come from the lower middle class originally, we didn’t have anything, so don’t spew that stuff on me.' ” (NYTimes, 17Nov2017) A non sequitur, from a Senator now worth millions. His argument amounts to "don't confuse me with the facts."
SO Jersey (South Jersey)
Frankly, Hatch seems completely satisfied with his spinelessness. He's another "I got mine" Republican. Trump - best president? WHAT? What are they drinking on the Hill?
Billy from Brooklyn (Hudson Valley, NY)
Unfortunately much of this could be said of senators from either party. What is telling is that so much emphasis is being put on the Senate count, now 51-49 GOP. It is simply assumed that in the great majority of cases votes, will be on party lines, no matter where the senator is from. No matter what the particular states needs are. The few GOP senators who had originally balked at following a party-line vote ("I did not come here to hurt people") came under intense fire and eventually followed party lines. We voters are much to blame. We are the ones who are threatening anyone who crosses party lines--we are as unforgiving as Schumer or McConnell. If a Dem were to vote with the GOP on any issue, he/she is likely finished. We MUST start electing moderate candidates--and then supporting them even if they do not always vote our way on social or financial issues. They do not become RINO's or DINO's by having moderate views. IMHO we voters are the ones who must stop being so ideologically pure.
Bruce Rozenblit (Kansas City, MO)
The Story of Orrin Hatch shows us how money ruins politics on two frons. In both cases, it does so by radically changing the politician. Why should an experienced, well liked politician change his stripes midstream during an election season? A concentrated surge of money in a primary can elevate a lousy candidate to national status in a local contest and force the change. What we see happening is money from anywhere in the world can be applied in a small area to greatly affect the outcome. This causes money to be used a type of blackmail to force a politician to heel to the money people. When that happens, the politician becomes a puppet. Values and integrity are someone else's problem. The second is how wealth directly changes the politician. When Hatch reached across the isle some twenty years ago, I would venture to guess that he was not worth the many millions he is worth today. After their bank accounts are bursting at the seams, all of a sudden, trickle down, supply side side economics makes a lot of sense. Suddenly, tax cuts for the super rich are priority one. Their expanding wealth is now the pathway to middle class prosperity. They worship money and power and nothing else. They bow their heads in prayer and claim to follow the Bible. Apparently, it's much more difficult to actually follow the teachings they claim to uphold, then line their pockets. Ask Hatch about it.
charles doody (AZ)
Your comment hits the nail straight on the head. Campaigns now are arms races fueled by big money donors. Money and the pervasive advertising it buys shapes the view of a candidate held by the voting populace. The threat of with holding that money buys legislators lock, stock, and barrel. Citizens United is the accelerant that burned down American democracy. Past tense used purposefully.
Realworld (International)
Like many, Hatch should have departed a long time ago. He has been a leader of the GOP obfuscation club for a long time now. He can now hand over to Romney who knows a thing or two about double-speak. Mitt will be Flake 2.0. Make mutterings about Presidential decorum while voting for every foul idea Trump can dial up. What a disgrace.
winchestereast (usa)
Please expand your definition of 'decent man' to all the people whose lives were disrupted when Romney's Bain venture financial team took apart their companies, loaded them with debt, and walked away with tax payer billions in their pockets. Clean, dressed in expensive suits, well groomed and polished. No public scandals or spurned spouses. Big deal. Couple of hustlers in the GOP mold, closet Birchers, and water boys for Koch types. Like Trump, neither man is fit to clean the loos at any Obama venue.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Your comment reminds me of a comment by C. S. Lewis: "The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. "
You describe Mitt Romney as a "decent" man. I disagree. When he was a teenager at Cranbrook School, a fancy private school in Bloomfield Hills, and while a son of the governor of Michigan, this teenager, walked his teacher, who was blind, into a closet, instead of helping him to the door. Great fun, eh? Yes, immature, but the cruelty of that act is instantly obvious to anyone reared with compassion. In Judaism, one is taught "do not put a stumbling block before the blind." I learned this as a child. Apparently not part of LDS liturgy, or at least not grasped by Mitt. What type of "decent man" do you become if these are your acts as a teen? And let's not forget the dog on the roof of the car.
meloop (NYC)
So this means that the GOP, whenever it has power, has just been a "do nothing" legislature! That sounds like much bigger and more important news than the retirement of a man who could do nothing for 42 years except take a paycheck for work he never did..
Donald Trump saluted Orrin Hatch for being kind beyond words to him. Would that Mr. Hatch had looked out for our nation, rather than just his party and its Bully-in-Chief figurehead.
Faye (Capital District NY)
I remember when I could look at Mr. Hatch with respect. He was one of the movers and shakers who could work in a bipartisan manner with those across the aisle and make some differences, some improvements.. sadly that all fell by the wayside in this past decade... he became one who appeared to believe that it is now us vs them... it was embarrassing to hear him chastise members of his committee because they were unable to read all the changes in a bill that came out in the middle of the night as though they were little kids shirking their homework responsibilities.. he says its important for one to know when to step down - sadly he came to that realization one term too late as trump would say SAD.
It was absurd for Orrin Hatch to defend his support of the tax bill by stating that he was born to modest means. At this stage in his career, Hatch's upbringing is long since a moot point. What counts is he has used his power - and it is clearly for the wealthy.
Rev. John Karrer (Sharonville, Ohio.)
Sen. Hatch is just the tip of the GOP iceberg. Maybe, if the electorate doesn't catch up with these people, global warming will !
More importantly, Ted Kennedy, his friend, born into privilege and wealth, championed causes for the dispossessed, those without voices. I bet Ted is turning in his grave and looking the other way in shame.
mr. G (Davis CA)
"Most important, they teamed up in 1997 on the State Children’s’ Health Insurance Program, the same program that’s on the block today." He helped establish CHIP, but now says there is no money to fund it but that there is plenty of money to fund the tax cuts for the 1%. He is a tired, old, hypocrite who won't be missed.
John Brews✅✅ (Reno, NV)
The article suggests that character was not part of Orrin Hatch, who obviously believes the only measure of a politician is whether he is re-elected. In today’s GOP that re-election means you do what its wealthy weirdo backers request. That opens their pocketbooks to finance whatever misinformation and scurrilous attacks are sufficient to drown every opponent.
Rick L (Lynden, WA)
What is the point of "He's surely a decent man?" Hatch "was" a decent man before he sold his soul after recognizing that a decent brand of politics a thing of the past, and that Hatch valued power over decency. His statements about Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearing are proof of that.
Marian Willard (Lexington, KY)
The article failed to mention the influx of oodles of far right wing money after the Citizens United decision. This money funded many of the primary challenges that have made many Republicans sell their souls simply to stay in office.
Diogenes (Belmont MA)
Regarding Senator Hatch, a question is whether political exigencies trumped his moral and political values or whether his values coarsened over the past seven or eight years. Perhaps a combination of both.
Mitch4949 (Westchester, NY)
Hatch fought for years to make sure that manufacturers of dietary supplements can make their goods without any regulation or oversight. Many people have suffered, but Orin made out very nicely, thanks to the lobbyists for "big alt-med". He was their champion in Congress.
Joseph M (Howell, NJ)
We like to hate on these congressmen but are they to blame? Yes, they are being forced to shift their principles to the right, but the people, us are voting for them! Why is it that voters are finding these more polarized figures more popular than centrist candidates who are willing to reach across the aisle? Hatch shifted his principles further to the right most likely for two reasons, pressure from dark moneyed interests and the public's ever growing tolerance and acceptance of vast polarization.
Seattle Artist (Seattle)
"It is not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man..." I am sorry, but we are defined by our actions and Mr. Hatch's actions are loud and clear. Doing the wrong things, whatever the reasons or circumstances, still make them the wrong things. Mr. Hatch is a bad man as of today.
Elizabeth (Portland, Maine)
Given his retreat from supporting CHIP, I beg to differ that "he's surely a decent man." I never thought I'd be eager for Mitt Romney but I believe the man has principles.
Gordon Swanson (Bellingham MA)
Hatch became a bad man. He became a person who forfeited his own beliefs in order to stay elected. And he did it in a way that was not even sneaky. He literally changed his stripes in public for all to see. Yes it is a sad trajectory, and despite what people think, not true of all politicians. And Romney has shown to be an ideological wind sock, so we can expect more of the same.
Steve (Seattle)
"Decent" men do not compromise their principles so radically for personal gain. Hatch may once have been an honorable man but like so many in the GOP he sold his soul to the devil (tea party) and now trump. Had he and others like him in the GOP stood up to the right wing fringe I suspect the political,landscape would look very different from what it is today. But we have also watched others like McCain and Collins who voted for the tax cut to the wealthy do much the same. The honor and decency has gone from the Republican Party and people like Hatch should retire as they do not have the strength of character to stand up for what is right.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
This affliction seems to have completely taken over GOP leadership. Otherwise it would be reasonable to expect some of them to renounce their party's complete devotion to the service of the 1% and change their affiliation. Instead they are riding it out, mute when they should speak out, or actively and loudly embracing their new Trumpian identity as Hatch has done.
JS (Minnetonka, MN)
A decent man? Perhaps; but surely not a courageous or principled one. Unless the senator was doing head fakes for 30 years, he certainly traded his comfortable seat in the Senate for his inclination to do the right thing, over and over again. Profile in something, but most assuredly not courage.
hk (hastings-on-hudson, ny)
How do you define "decent"? Orrin Hatch voted for the tax plan, but when he was asked about health insurance for poor children (CHIP) he said "we don't have money anymore." He explained further: "I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won't help themselves, won't lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything." Hatch isn't "trapped" in the current poisonous dynamic. He has had enormous power in the Senate. Hatch made his decisions. They were far from decent and his statements about them were worse.
Wilbray Thiffault (Ottawa. Canada)
The story of the trajectory of Orrin Hatch is also the story of the trajectory of the Republican Party. John McCain also went South after a challenge from the Tea Party.
Dave (Eugene, Oregon)
This native of Utah has watched with disappointment as Mr. Hatch has fallen from grace. He relinquished his status as a statesmen and submerged into Trump's world with the worst of his party's politicians. I am glad that Utah will be rid of him.
Deb (Blue Ridge Mtns.)
Maybe he used to be a decent man, but the man I saw and heard groveling to trump, referring to him as maybe the greatest president ever, sure appeared to be nothing but a soulless, craven, husk of a man, who sold out his constituents, along with his dignity and integrity on the altar of power. Mitt Romney may also be thought decent. He's well mannered, educated and speaks coherently. He's also a plutocrat, a hypocrite and will forever be remembered for "the 47%". The 47% that he and Paul Ryan were/are not concerned with because they're "takers"; "corporations are people too, my friend". If Utah wants to send a really "decent" man to the senate, I suggest they look at former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin. He's got the resume, smarts, honesty, sincerity and integrity. He also seems to have something else very important and sorely lacking in trump's ring kissers: the courage to speak truth to power, and the ability to know right from wrong.
Socrates (Downtown Verona. NJ)
Orrin Hatch has been the lead Snake Oil Senator for the vitamin-supplement industry for decades, enriching himself, his family members and the Snake Oil industry in the process. Hatch represents the worst of American political corruption. “I am committed to protect this industry and the integrity of its products,” Hatch told a gathering of unregulated pill-pushers in Utah in 2014. Hatch has been blunt about helping his family and friends in the fake drug trade. “I do whatever they ask me to do many times because they’ve never asked me to do anything that is improper,” Hatch said in 2011. He was referring to the firm of his son, Scott Hatch, a longtime (wealthy) lobbyist for the supplement industry. In 1994, Hatch helped to completely deregulate the supplement industry so his sugar daddies could rip off the American public with impunity with the Dietary Supplement Health and_Education Act, which has been characterized this way: "Let the supplement industry have free reign to market untested products with unsupported claims, and then we’ll fund reliable studies to arm the public with scientific information so they can make good decisions for themselves. This “experiment” is just a gift to the supplement industry and the result has been an explosion of the supplement industry flooding the marketplace with useless products and false claims." Orrin Hatch is a disgrace to America.
Kristine Walls (Tacoma WA)
Hear hear! One of my former bosses - an honest and ethical lawyer - is devout LDS, a former president of his Stake, and one of the local council of seventy in the Seattle area. He is the one who pointed out to me Hatch's unethical ties to the supplement industry. He deplored it and seemed embarrassed by it when he told me.
Joan (Atlanta)
If one's choice is between the medical industrial complex and big pharma vs. supplements, I choose supplements. Hatch's role in allowing people to choose their own natural medicines was a good thing, in my opinion. Most widely used supplements have roots in traditional medicine, and in fact, have reams of supporting research studies, so they should not be dismissed out of hand as "snake oil" This is one of the few times I disagree with you, Socrates.
Sandy (San Francisco)
As an OBGYN I spend too much time debunking the myths perpetuated by the supplement industry about their products’ health benefits for pregnancy. I highly recommend viewing an excellent documentary on PBS Frontline; “Supplements and Safety.” Anybody remember that murderous weight loss poison from the supplement industry, Fen-Phen?
Denise (Lafayette, LA)
How good is Orrin Hatch? Well, he helped pass a tax reform bill that will make him even wealthier than he was before it, and now he's decided to retire, as has a slew of other Republican congressmen who will benefit enormously from tax reform.
Andy (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Hatch shouldn't have attacked CHIP as unaffordable as a result of the Republican tax cuts he authored. If Utah wasn't weary of Hatch before, his statements were certainly a nail in the coffin. Romney has an opportunity to course correct but I wouldn't expect wonders. The left doesn't current;y have anyone who can beat Mitt in Utah and few on the right are willing to try. Like Hatch for so long, Romney can basically set his agenda with competitive immunity. The words will change but the "47 percent" will remain the same.
JTBence (Las Vegas, NV)
Oh come on, Hatch is as venal and opportunistic as any politician. For instance, he has enriched his friends and family by being the champion of the nutritional supplement industry, as the New York Times reported in this article: This is not "a decent man trapped in an indecent dynamic." This is a man who was in office while that dynamic was forming and did nothing to oppose it. If Romney decides to run, he will probably be elected. I doubt that he will be any different because with all his harsh words and high-mindedness regarding Trump, he still jockeyed for a position in the Trump administration.
Dave (Western MA)
Sadly, we've already witnessed Romney bow before Trump: he allowed himself to be considered for Secretary of State. Romney is a chameleon, and may yet be the biggest con man of all.
SMB (Savannah)
Helpful background but what I am curious about is why so many Republicans sold their souls or how they were corrupted by Trump. Watching Hatch at that love fest for Trump where he actually said Trump would be the best president in history was bizarre considering that historians regard George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and many others far more highly. Trump will be lucky to rate not at the very bottom of the list. Was the corruption step-by-step? Was it scaffolded from the tea party to the Trump delusional world? It corresponds with the rise of autocracies and kleptocracies, and the involvement of Russia in Trump's election suggests outside players and influence. We know that McConnell, Rubio, McCain, Graham, Scott Walker and Kasich accepted $7.35 million from a Russian oligarch. Hatch's donors seem to be more medical, tech and financial. But you don't sell out 13 million Americans who will lose their healthcare and the millions who will have their premiums raised in order to give the 1% 83% of the tax breaks for the rich that Hatch just shoved through. And you do't sell out the 9 million poor children who depend on CHIP for their insurance. Good riddance.
Marilyn P. Mueller (Alpharetta, GA)
They allowed themselves to be corrupted by the $$$ waved before them by donors - from whatever stripe. That made no difference to them. Republicans were always like that. This was just the right kind of environment with the right sort of president to bring their ugliness, stinginess and heartlessness to the fore. When it comes to donor money, the Democrats are just as needy, but they are not heartless and try to do good for their constituents.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
"Helpful background but what I am curious about is why so many Republicans sold their souls or how they were corrupted by Trump." I have a friend who insists that Trump ruined the Republican party. As though one vile old man could single-handedly cause the entire party to sell their souls en masse. It just doesn't happen that way. Trump, if anything, just helped show what hypocritical straw men these "moral pillars" really were. The thing to remember is that, when this nation's crisis came, the Republican leadership all got behind the Russian candidate in lock step. I agree with my friend that the Republican party is ruined; just not with his simplistic explanation of how it happened.
Michael Kaplan (Portland,Oregon)
We have come a long way from "Profiles in Courage" (President Jack Kennedy was the authorfor those too young to remember) where individuals in politics were celebrated for crossing party lines to do the right thing. Senator Hatch has left that profile behind. This column is an unusual exercise in civility and fair mindedness. Yes, Senator Hatch is "not a bad man"; however, he has made bad choices, which he may come to regret as Mr. Trump takes us on an increasingly wild and deranged ride. The tweets yesterday alone suggest the sad future e.g. "I have a bigger button than you". As a retired mental health professional, the meaning of that comment can only be described as sad.
James (Boston)
Orrin Hatch's political career is a great example of how the political sphere has rotted away. Partisan politics has corroded the very purpose of congress, to serve the American people. You've served us well Senator Hatch, but alas you served long enough to be on the wrong side of history.
M E R (N Y C)
Hatch used to be a friend of Ted Kennedy. I wonder how Kennedy would feel about his old friend now - after Hatch voted to repeal virtually every law Kennedy ever authored or co-authored. I'm glad he's leaving the Senate, but I have no illusions that what comes after him may be even worse than he is.
ScottM57 (Texas)
Well, Mr. Tomasky, I beg to differ. Orrin Hatch IS a bad man. Anyone who would pander to the extreme right to put their re-election above the good of the least of us in this country is NOT a good man,
Neal (New York, NY)
Mr. Tomasky is simply extending professional courtesy to a fellow phony. Would you believe, based in this op-ed, that the author is a well-known "liberal" journalist?
Next Conservatism (United States)
The Republicans need to clean their Augean stables. Resignations and retirements like the wave we're seeing won't be enough. The tactical changes, dances, and shifts we're seeing are all tilting away from their duty as statesmen and patriots. They're nothing but pure partisans now, working explicitly against the more perfect Union they obliged themselves to support. The rest of the nation needs to view them as a hostile force, and their actions as deliberately treasonous against the will of the majority. The prior records of Hatch, Romney, et al., are all immaterial. No "indecent dynamic" works without the complicity of the people in it, and the ugly fact is, they're willingly complicit in making an indecent dynamic into their political brand. Republicans are shameless, spineless, and openly for sale--not just corrupt but corrupted. Americans need to repudiate them, not lay nosegays on the graves of their former decency.
Sandra (Candera)
Hatch, like all GOP Congress, will be remembered as a traitor to Democracy, a traitor to We The People, and a guy who sailed off into the sunset with a huge, indecent, tax cut for himself, as all congress are millionaires, if not billionaires, his 1% donor overlords, corporations, the Koch network who dictates all things to the republicans, and trump, his family, his businesses while at the same time making health insurance unaffordable for many, gutting Medicaid, refusing to act on funding CHIP, and ignoring the reality of 88 Million Homeless Americans. He took the money and ran. Not a statesman.
T and E (Travelling USA)
The stranglehold the Democrats and the Republicans have on the Americans voters is the two party system. Independents make up the largest block of voters but cannot by and large vote in primaries if the register that way. There is no pretense of working together anymore and we all are suffering for it. Citizens United and the two party system are killing American Democracy.
Pat M (Brewster, NY)
You can surely have an independent candidate of your choosing. Why should you be allowed to affect the choice of a democratic or republican candidate when you are not a party member? I have a lot of respect and affection for Bernie Sanders but I did not appreciate how he inserted himself into the democratic primaries and tried to destroy the party when it became clear he would not win the nomination. The virulent anti-Hillary sentiments coming from his supporters was an ugly thing to witness and were not helpful when the first item on the agenda should have been defeating Trump. And I believe that the Sanders supporters were also targeted on social media to whip up this frenzy of hate for the democratic candidate. Who among us cares to admit that they were played? But this is in the past and there are no do-overs in our system of government. Let us never forget what it cost us. As for Romney, I doubt that he will want to toe the Trump line as I'm sure he'll want to be perceived as the rational choice for 2020. Let us not be deceived.
Andrew Ross (Denver)
If the last decade had taught us anything, it's to not count on the election of Republican "moderates" until the votes are in. I'm sure Utah is capable of finding a right wing Republican crazy enough to present a serious challenge to Romney for its primary voters.
Bruce (Fairfax, VA)
Indeed, Sen. Hatch's senatorial career charts well with the general trajectory of the Republican Party over the same time. But it does seems clear that he left his old sensibilities about bipartisanship and compromise on his own ash heap of history. In that way, the past several years of his work seem to embody the caricature of the politician who would say and believe anything to get themselves elected. Ring, must be the flip flopper calling from Massachusetts. I miss the old Sen. Hatch and the country is weaker for his surrender.
Robert (Saint Louis MO)
When it comes down to the nitty gritty Republicans can be relied upon to revert to their base instincts. The shrinking list of Trump critics in Congress puts their priorities in clear perspective. Harsh words are inevitably followed by lockstep loyalty. Hatch is just one more example and any spark of decency in Romney will be snuffed out in short order once the fundamentalist Republican mindset asserts itself.
David Morris (Bellingham)
Like others, you had me until the part about, "he's surely a decent man." It's amazing how many of the over 60 and over 70 republican politicians continue to espouse the selfish, holier than thou, right-wing rhetoric that values the wealthy and influential portions of the population over the much larger portion of working people, women, children and elderly.
Joan Johnson (Midwest, midwest)
Being a good, decent person means DOING good and decent things. Senator Hatch has abandoned doing good for his constituents and the entire nation in order to help himself win re-election. This is the opposite of good and decent. It is bad and wrong. He is right to retire because he has already destroyed his legacy and any further time in the Senate will hurt millions more. For now, he is but one task at hand - push through the re-funding of CHIP.
Westegg02 (Minneapolis)
There is no nobility in working across the isle as far as a republican politician is concerned. An attempt to do so triggers a primary challenge from the extremist right wing of the party. In this toxic environment, the only option for a guy like Hatch is to maintain a partisan posture, even to the detriment of the congress and the country. These are dark times we live in, and, unfortunately, there’s no light at the end of this tunnel.
Richard Williams MD (Davis, Ca)
The review of Mr. Hatch's earlier accomplishments is true but incomplete; he has also been guilty of appalling self dealing. In particular he has almost singlehandedly prevented any meaningful oversight of the "nutritional supplements" industry, which has always been a very dubious health enterprise and in which he and his family have significant financial interests. Now however like almost all of his Party he has entirely succumbed to Trump and therefore abandoned the principle of a government of laws and not men.
ReRe (Brooklyn NY)
Until the recent tax bill, my most vivid memory of Sen. Hatch was at the Thomas-Hill hearings. He and Sen Specter -2 former DAs grilled the witnesses. I watch as the two traded off questioning and while I disagreed with them I was in struck by the deftness of the work. I remembering remarking that if I needed a lawyer I would want one as good as those two. I have had grudging respect for him over the years and was sad to see his groveling last month after the passage of the tax bill. He remarked "You are one heckuva leader, and we’re all benefiting from it" A good decent man brought low. I wish he had hung up his gloves earlier. Maybe now this will free him to speak more honestly.
Sal (Rural Northern CA)
I lived in Utah for a decade in the 80's-90's. That was a long and difficult decade. I will always remember what my 90 year old aunt said once, when Hatch was on TV blathering. "There's Hatch orrinating all over the senate floor".
Emmy (SLC, UT)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." This hits the nail on the head, in my opinion. That, and he behaves as though he's convinced that what he's doing is right. As a constituent of his, I am glad he's stepping down. He lost my vote when he voted yes on the Tax Bill.
Jeff (Sacramento)
“ It’s not that Mr Hatch is a bad man...” It’s easy to be a good person, to do what you think is right when doing so doesn’t cost you anything. Hatch, when faced with doing good and possibly risking no his career as another one of our octogenarian rulers, decided career was more important. Doesn’t necessarily made you bad but it doesn’t make you good either. It simply makes you a person who at best has supple principles or at worst no real principles at all. Since Hatch has already trained himself to be accommodating it wasn’t hard for him to embrace Trump. The really pathetic thing about his encounter with Senator Brown was how he insisted he was still a man of the people. All this while wearing a $1000 dollar suit.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
"The really pathetic thing about his encounter with Senator Brown was how he insisted he was still a man of the people. All this while wearing a $1000 dollar suit." The most efficient way to deceive others is to first deceive yourself. I suspect Hatch really thinks of himself as an honorable man. It's part of his brand. And now that he is retiring rich, what could possibly force him to reevaluate? There will be no visits by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to change his mind, I'm afraid.
JanTG (VA)
Please, Mr Hatch, go home. I am sickened by the Republican Party walking in lockstep with an out-of-control president. Yes, indeed, what happened to those days when Paul Wellstone and Jesse Helms could be at opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet still be friends, and close ones at that? There are no more statesmen/women. Party before country. Do NOT, at any cost, give Obama a win. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Now that you will be a private citizen, perhaps you will spend some time in reflection to see how your party has torn this country apart, all because there was a Democrat in the White House.
Marilyn P. Mueller (Alpharetta, GA)
No, Jan -- all because there was a black democrat in the White House.
Bruce Wayne (Wayne Manor)
So, in his final term Hatch has been a "decent man," behaving badly? Not something I'd want in my obituary, political or otherwise.
JamesTheLesser (Wisconsin)
Not a word here about Hatch's blind (or perhaps wide-eyed) support for the quack medicine and natural supplement industry in his home state or his, and his families, enormous wealth accumulated by buying into and defending those interests with laws forbidding the FDA from regulating the industry.
Anthony (High Plains)
I am not particularly excited about the probable Senator Romney due to his horrible show in 2012 in which he tacted right and it leaked that he would move center once elected. I just hope that if elected, Romney does what is right and opposes Trump.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
The only thing left "decent" for Hatch will be a decent burial.
August Becker (Washington DC)
What is a bad man if it's not a man who's ethics and principles are for sale in exchange for power, Why does a man, once posing as a decent man, fallen into pandering and sycophancy, who is willing to abandon decent behavior in order to curry favor with an obscene president and corrupt colleagues, deserve to be called decent.
steve boston area (no shore)
these republican leaders took an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of The United States" Everything that they have done over the last years has been the opposite. They are spineless and will be remembered as such. Let the door hit him on the way out.
George M. (NY)
Mr. Tomasky, this is an incorrect statement: "It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic." Mr Hatch is not a decent man. Decent people do not abandon their moral values. He has abandoned his. It is very difficult to find decent politicians, and in this day and age almost impossible - especially if you are a Republican.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Senator Hatch trained in a profession in which the ability to make a case articulately and convincingly is a prized skill. One of the best ways of convincing others is to first convince yourself, even if your argument is false. Hatch was very good at what he did. Being good at self deception and defending the indefensible may be a prized skill in the halls of wealth and power, but it doesn't make a person good or decent. "By their fruits shall ye know them".
Tom (Upstate NY)
Exhibit number one in the argument that if we publically financed federal elections, the principles our legislators would espouse would be closer to their own rather than their donors. Better they display character rather than characterization of some buffoon with dark money operating like a roach, which is only out of sight and when the lights are out.
glinness (Nevada)
"Exhibit number one in the argument that if we [publicly] financed federal elections, the principles our legislators would espouse would be closer to their own rather than their donors." I have come to firmly believe this as well. Campaign finance reform is the only hope of preserving what remains of American democracy, taking the big-money donors and corporate money out of the federal equation, with the added benefit of returning the huge chunks of time legislators must spend groveling for campaign funds to instead invest that time in actually legislating for the people. Democracy cannot continue in a nation of the donors, by the donors, and for the donors, and as far as Utah goes, I don't have much hope that Mitch "Corporations are people, my friend" Romney would be any kind of improvement to that end.
Tom (Upstate NY)
Amen my friend. If you could convince 100 people of your wisdom and insight who could then convince 100 more people each I think we would have a prayer. Thank you for the reminder that our officials spend more time dialling for dollars than serving the public.
Stephen Csiszar (Carthage NC)
I must disagree with the last paragraph: He is a bad man. No one is "trapped" except that Hatch has no courage or vision to govern for the future. This sums up the Republicans in general, doesn't it? How about using the skills gleaned from the "epochal service" to actually do something positive for the majority in America?
Jay Lagemann (Chilmark, MA)
I can't help but believe "that Mr. Hatch is a bad man." When you give up all your values just to get re-elected and to be in the graces of the radical Right you lose the right to be a good man.
Susan (Maryland)
Excusing these soulless Republicans because of "an indecent dynamic" doesn't pass the smell test. Was Hatch a "decent man" when he said there's not enough money for CHIP -- after giving money to billionaires? When he called Trump maybe the greatest president of all time? Was Romney when he insulted the 47% and called them "takers"? When he groveled before Trump when Trump dangled the Secretary of State in front of him? No, both proved they will sell out for the highest bidder for either money or power. It is not the times; it is them. They are creating the "indecent dynamic," not suffering from it.
Mags (Connecticut)
They have all sold their souls to multi-national corporations (which are people according to rMoney) and far-right billionaires. At long last they all have no decency. If you typically vote Republican, vote for the Democrats this coming mid-term: send your party a message.
Martin (New York)
The transition began during the Clinton administration. I remember being shocked when Senator Hatch would certainly lose his temper and begin spewing the most absurd, Fox-generated lies. Gradually, everything disappeared but the vitriol and the willingness to say (& believe) anything. As with the entire GOP.
Tracy Rupp (Brookings, Oregon)
Fact: We incarcerate more than any other. Fact: If we cut defense spending in half we would still be paying far more for war than any other. Fact: We are the most unequal of peoples with three of us hording half of America's wealth. Fact: We are the only advanced nation not in the World Climate Accord. We proliferate guns like no other and die by them like no other. All of this is promoted by the GOP. There is no good Republican.
Lee Christensen (Salt Lake City, Utah)
"All of this is promoted by the GOP. There is no good Republican." While I agree with your comment overall, I know too many people who I regard as good, and Republican, to agree with your last statement. They are good, but they are naive. People aren't born with critical thinking abilities, and these people have been listening to the half- and outright- lies of Fox for years. More importantly, many of them have been raised with religious convictions that make it difficult not to believe what the majority of their religious community believes. I have a hard time thinking of these people as bad, just deluded. In some ways this makes the problem even harder to solve.
Nora M (New England)
May I add one more: We are the only developed country without universal health care. Chalk that one up to the Republicans as well.
Darrow Zeidenstein (Houston, Texas)
This piece and the ensuing comments bring up the hoary old argument of whether it's "the person" or "the times." For those who believe it's the person, then Hatch comes off as pusillanimous, if not hypocritical. For those who believe it's the times, Hatch is "a decent man trapped in an indecent dynamic." I believe the article has it about half correct: Hatch is probably a decent man, but not enough of a leader to rise above his times--few are. We'll probably have the opportunity to see if Romney is merely decent, or be a true leader. I believe this piece has it about right: Hatch is probably a decent man, but he is surely no leader in the best sense of that word.
Doug Karo (Durham, NH)
If a decent man does not act decently, what does it mean to be a decent man?
Paul (Tennessee)
But doesn't "decent man" include things like integrity? courage? honesty? I think framing the matter as not being a "leader in the best sense of that word" misses the obvious and excuses an all to characteristic moral failing of many politicians and almost all current Republicans. What I am particularly puzzled by is how such senior folks with established reputations and impressive careers all but concluded end on such a low note, selling themselves for just a few more hours in the sun.
dea (indianapolis)
Do you mean Mitt, I was against the auto bailout before I was for it, Romney?
BNYgal (brooklyn)
Mr.Hatch's support of Trump and the current GOP agenda suggests that he is not at all a "decent man." Decent is as decent does. Mr. Hatch has set fire to his legacy and ends his career as a man willing to do great harm to this country and its children. Shame on him.
Sticks and Stones (NJ)
"Mr. Romney once called President Trump 'a phony, a fraud.' The arc of Mr. Hatch’s career suggests that Mr. Romney will use different nouns two years hence, if not much sooner." Romney is the supreme opportunist. He will say whatever he thinks will get him elected.
JE Perry (Durham, NC)
If memory serves, Orrin Hatch was one of the senators who treated Anita Hill like she was a disease during the Senate hearings for Clarence Thomas. He earned my contempt for that, and his recent insane praise for Trump cements my opinion of him.
Donna (California)
@JE Perry: Yes he did and he was one of the worst. It was heartbreaking and disgusting to watch.
Cheryl Kay (Lexington Kentucky )
really, how can any of these congress people live with themselves after kissing the boots of Trump? A disgusting display...his cabinet did the same thing...the worst adorer is PENCE....he truly treats the man like the god that he professes to follow so "strongly" to use his hero's words......sickening.
MEM (Los Angeles)
"It’s not that Mr. Hatch is a bad man. He’s surely a decent man, trapped in an indecent dynamic. And now, the smart bet is that he will be replaced by another decent man, Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney once called President Trump “a phony, a fraud.” The arc of Mr. Hatch’s career suggests that Mr. Romney will use different nouns two years hence, if not much sooner." Edmund Burke, the 18th century Irish-British statesman and philosopher acknowledged as the founder of modern conservatism, said that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Good, decent men like Hatch and Romney.
MainLaw (Maine)
Why would we think they -- Hatch and Romney -- are decent people if they can't stand up for their principles and to the far right? What's decent about that?
Robert J. Godfrey (Florida)
Well, Gov. Romney hasn't knuckled under yet. I didn't vote for him, but there's no question he's a decent, not to mention talented, man -- to whom I will give the benefit of the doubt to until proven otherwise. In fact, I'd love to see a moderate like Romney in the Senate. God knows, the man has been vetted. Dare I suggest that, as a senator, Gov. Romney just may have the gravitas and moderate politics, tempered by consideration and respect for other's opinions, that could help lead our country back from the partisan abyss that threatens to destroy our divided nation.
rms (SoCal)
He's already knuckled under. He went crawling to Trump because he wanted to be Secretary of State.
Martha Shelley (Portland, OR)
Hatch a decent man? This is a man who called Trump "one of the best" Presidents he's seen. A decent man--a man with principles--would have quit and looked for other employment rather than sell those principles out completely in order to keep that job. It's not like he was desperate for funds to feed his family. His net worth is estimated at almost $5,000,000.
Would it matter if Hatch were “desperate for funds to feed his family?” Perhaps the United States Senate is a shelter for the GOP underprivileged to escape the cold.
Ken Winterberger (Anchorage, AK)
Actually, Hatch originally said that our current president was “one of the best I’ve served under.” He later clarified that statement after many pointed out that the legislative branch did not serve under the executive branch but was pretty much equal. Sadly, it would appear that too many of our legislators do not understand this simple precept.
LP (Atlanta)
Don't blame the "indecent dynamic" of the times for Hatch turning into a hack who kowtows to the far right instead of being a legislator who serves his country. Leadership means taking the right stance, even if it's risky. If standing up to the Tea Party agenda meant he would have faced a well-financed opposition in the next election, then so be it. He's not there to preserve his Senate seat at all costs. He's there to serve his country at all costs. He forgot that, as have so many others in the GOP.
Jefflz (San Francisco)
One minor correction to the excellent summary of the situation: Hatch is like ALL of the others in the GOP- completely amoral.
Michelle (Oregon)
Agree. It is in times of adversity and the threat of losing ones position of power , that the true test of integrity arises. A test Hatch failed.
JoanC (Trenton, NJ)
Another Republican who has sold his soul to the devil and doesn't seem to care. When you do whatever it takes to get reelected, including disavowing the actual process of governance you used to participate in and toeing the extreme party line, you wind up saying things like this: " 'We are going to make this the greatest presidency we have seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever,' Mr. Hatch said." (referring to Trump). Sad is right.
nursemom1 (bethlehem Pa.)
So true. It is incredibly sad to see this pathetic old man who was trusted to "serve his country" honor the constitution ,and his fellow citizens ..betray that trust. His life's work now a shambles and a disgrace. Shame on him and the republican party.. the party of Lincoln led by thieves, thugs and liars What a legacy this old man leaves...
Scott Duesterdick (Albany NY)
I find it somewhat amusing that a state that has produced Robert Menander and other quasi criminals as Senators of the year’s refers to someone else’s Senator as having “ so.d his soul to the devil”.
joegrink (philadelphia)
Right you are. Add McCain to that list. It's the Republican, stupid, not the country.
alden mauck (newton, MA)
I never voted for Gov. Romney when he ran, and won, in Massachusetts, but he did govern effectively... but these days that only means so much. Running for President, Romney tried to deny or at least qualify his leadership in establishing a fuller, more compassionate health care program for his fellow citizens... just as Senator Hatch has been willing to assist in the possible dismantling of CHIP, a program he helped to create and protect. Let's hope a future Senator Romney takes his lead from Republican Senators of the past: Olympia Snow, Jacob Javits, Chuck Percy, and Ed Brooke. Otherwise the Trump-Republican Party is here to stay.
NYer (NYC)
Don't hold your breath... Romney is the sort who'll say and do anything to get power, first posing as a 'moderate' Republican as Mass gov and then swinging to (his natural) far right in his campaign for President ("corporations are people, my friend!"). And he toadied up to Trump in (desperate) search of a cabinet post! Romney is only in this to try and 'position' himself for another run for president! He has NO ideas and offers NOTHING!
dea (indianapolis)
Or how about Susan, can a hide behind Mitch, Collins?
Jussmartenuf (dallas, texas)
"Let's hope a future Senator Romney takes his lead from Republican Senators of the past" my foot. Let's hope the folks in Utah come to their senses and elect a Democrat, "otherwise the Trump-Republican Party is here to stay". How can any responsible American defend the ignorant disaster Trump? Time to clean house of those who have put us in this terrible place and that means every Republican as they all justify and refuse to acknowledge the disaster their entire party has become.
See also