First came the Searchlight Brawler, Harry Reid.  Now Orrin Hatch joins the ranks of the Senate tough guys . . .

Asked whether—like fellow Utah Senator Robert Bennett—he might be defeated in his bid to obtain the Republican nomination, Hatch bragged "I'm a lot tougher" than Bennett, and considerably more conservative to boot.

Hatch's macho moment came this morning during an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC's Daily Rundown.  When Todd asked whether he intended to seek re-election in 2012, Hatch, to his credit, didn't mince words, saying he was definitely running, subject only to continuing to feel physically strong.  But when Todd asked if Hatch might meet the same fate as Bennett at the Utah GOP nominating convention, Orrin flexed his muscles.

Enraged voters, too dumb to appreciate the purveyors of pork . . .

That was Mike Allen's take on Morning Joe today.  Politico's chief political correspondent labelled "absurd" the decision of Utah and Nevada voters not to re-elect Bob Bennett [done deal] and Harry Reid [likely goner]. And why is it such a bad mistake?  Because Bennett and Reid are proven pork providers for their states.

Allen offered his analysis in response to Mike Barnicle's suggestion that in the current political climate, bringing home the bacon might actually backfire on politicians.

“This is a damn outrage,” a disgusted David Brooks, the faux conservative columnist for the New York Times, declared on Sunday’s Meet the Press reacting to Republican Senator Bob Bennett’s loss Saturday at Utah’s Republican convention which chose two others to compete in a June primary for the seat. Brooks fretted he was punished for being “a good conservative who was trying to get things done” by “bravely” working with Democrats on health care and supporting TARP. “Now,” he repeated, “he's losing his career over that. And it's just a damn outrage.”

Sitting beside Brooks on NBC’s roundtable, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr,. a former New York Times correspondent, saw “almost a non-violent coup because they denied the sitting Senator even a chance of getting on the primary ballot.”

Over on Fox News Sunday, NPR’s Juan Williams expressed exasperation: “This is evidence of how the American political center is losing, on the right wing of the party a guy like Bob Bennett, who is a right-wing conservative, is being driven out because he’s not sufficiently conservative?”

ABC’s Jake Tapper brought Rudy Giuliani aboard This Week to address the handling of the Times Square botched bomber, but wouldn’t let him go before bringing up Bennett’s defeat as proof of an intolerant GOP: “Are you worried at all that the Republican Party is not only growing more hostile to more liberal to moderate Republicans such as yourself, but also conservative Republicans who are shown to, at least shown an ability to work with Democrats?”

Chris Matthews -- who was offended by Rush Limbaugh calling the Obama administration the "regime"-- claimed the Republicans were engaged in a "Stalinesque" purge. On Tuesday's Hardball Matthews charged that conservatives challenging moderates within the Republican Party (like Marco Rubio versus Charlie Crist in Florida) was akin to Joseph Stalin's violent purges in the 1930s, as he teased an upcoming segment this way: "Coming up what happens to Republicans who don't march to the right wing tune? Well they're getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff." 

Later on in the segment Matthews claimed the GOP was engaging in something "particularly nasty" in "pruning itself" and warned Republicans risked losing "sophisticated" voters in the suburbs if it continued to turn towards "Palin-ism and gun-toters."

The following Matthews quotes were aired on the April 20 edition of Hardball: