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When I moved to St. Louis, Jim Talent was still in the Senate. He seemed to be a prototypically white-bread, nice Republican boy, who went along with whatever the Bush administration required of him. He certainly didn’t seem to be particularly profound – which is why I’m so amazed to hear Missouri conservatives speak of him as an “intellectual powerhouse” – although perhaps that’s not so remarkable in a state that can send people like Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long to Washington. He did, after all, do time as a Fellow at The Heritage institute where they do make some pretense of having standards, and he’s certainly capable of stringing a couple of coherent thoughts together.

But perhaps I was misled by Talent’s bland persona. Perhaps he does have at least some sort of intellectual integrity capacity. The reason I say this is because of something I read in David Catanese’s column in Politico in which he speculates that Talent is backing away from Missouri’s 2012 Senatorial contest. Among the possible reasons he posits for Talent’s lack of enthusiasm for the race is the following (emphasis added):

It’s not that he doesn’t believe he couldn’t best Steelman in a primary — it’s whether taking up a bruising intra-party fight before a rough-and-tumble general election with Sen. Claire McCaskill would be worth the time, energy and resources.

“The primary bothers him. He saw how broke and battered [Kenny] Hulshof was in August and he doesn’t want to be forced to take positions out of the mainstream,” said another Missouri source who has had conversations with those close to Talent.

Does being forced to take positions out of the mainstream perhaps mean being forced to kowtow to obstreperous, intellectually vapid Tea Partiers – something that  Sarah Steelman, who is agressively campaigning for the nomination, seems more than willing to do? Does this intellectual powerhouse maybe see the Tea Party as a lose-lose proposition? First you lose your integrity, then you lose the general election.