NASHVILLE — Chris Chocola is not a clown.
He doesn’t wear a bulbous red nose or a bright orange Bozo wig. His shoes aren’t two feet long. He doesn’t drive a little yellow taxi filled with other clowns, who tumble out at the first sounding of a Chinese fire drill.
Chocola is a former Indiana Republican congressman who collected earmarks for his district, and voted for the Medicare prescription drug plan. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with Medicare — the biggest entitlement expansion since LBJ’s Great Society — helped produce America’s first trillion-dollar budget deficit before Barack Obama ever became president. He is also president of Club For Growth, and it is in this latter capacity that Chocola is acting ... like a clown.
Since Chocola became Club For Growth’s chief, he has become a born-again deficit hawk. He is now against earmarks and wasteful spending and is seeking Republicans to punish for things he did himself.
Chocola is also a terrible judge of temperament. Club For Growth — an organization of rich, Republican white guys — decided to target U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar for defeat sometime in 2010. They consigned Lugar, who had a Republican voting record approaching the 90th percentile and who had received 7.5 million votes, a Hoosier record, over his 36-year career, as a “RINO.” Chocola and his merry band of bundlers spent close to $4 million backing Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who defeated Lugar in the Republican primary.
Mourdock took that Senate nomination, started shooting his mouth off, disappeared from the campaign trail for a couple of months, and then made what was the epic blunder of the television age of Indiana politics. His “God intends” rape remark at the New Albany debate with Joe Donnelly created a fiasco that gift-wrapped a reliable GOP seat for the Democrats.