Memorial Day celebrations around Utah were filled with folks carrying flags, patriotic speeches, little kids impossibly excited by the presence of so many fire trucks and -- at least in Woods Cross -- a bit of partisan politics from Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and the city's mayor. [...] Circling back to Obamacare, Hatch pointed to the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores case currently before the Supreme Court, in which the owners of the craft stores contend they should not be required to cover contraceptives for their employees. Hatch clearly sides with Hobby Lobby, telling the crowd, "I hope the Supreme Court doesn't screw that up is all I can say ... Because if they foul up the First Amendment again, we are going to have a constitutional amendment. And I believe I can put one on that everybody in this country, except the nuts, will support."
Ordinarily, America's elected leaders honor Memorial Day by paying solemn tribute to Americans who wore the uniform and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) this week chose a different course.
At this Memorial Day service, at which the senator spoke without notes, Hatch added, "I shouldn't talk like that, but I've reached an age that I can say whatever I want." According to the report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Hatch also took the opportunity in his remarks to "assail the nation's courts" and "urge voters to cast their ballots for Republicans in 2014 and 2016."
Honestly, it's sometimes hard to know where to start.
I suppose we can put aside for a moment the impropriety of a sitting U.S. senator using Memorial Day to throw a partisan tantrum -- and then explain himself by reminding the audience he's 80. (For the record, I can think of many octogenarians who didn't give up class and dignity upon reaching the threshold.)
Instead, let's note that if the Supreme Court rejects the notion that corporations are people with their own distinct spiritual beliefs, Orrin Hatch apparently intends to push a constitutional amendment that will empower employers to deny contraception coverage to their employers.
And those who disagree with such an idea are, to use the senator's word, "nuts."
The Utah Republican has always been conservative, but he'd developed a reputation over the years for idiosyncratic tendencies, working with Democrats, for example, on stem-cell research, the DREAM Act, and S-CHIP. When Hatch published an autobiography, he named it "Square Peg" -- his way of defining himself as someone who doesn't always fit in, even with his own party.
That was before his descent into the buffoonish man we see today.
Hatch had an opportunity to fill a void in a party that needs statesmen and leaders of stature; it's a shame he let that opportunity pass him by.