Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter Jumps The Fence To Save His Miserable Career

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Not much will change

By now you know-- if just from the headline-- that Republican Senator Arlen Specter is switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. He had no choice if he wanted to run for the Senate again since the severely shrunken Pennsylvania Republican Party has virtually no more moderates or even mainstream conservatives, just radical right haters and bigots. In his announcement, Specter made it clear he would just be changing party affiliation, not his Republican mindset:
My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

The Inside the Beltway Democratic Establishment was overjoyed-- as were hard core rightists in the GOP, like Gingrich and Limbaugh, who suggested Collins, Snowe and McCain join him-- but aside from caucusing with the Democrats, this is probably better news for the Bayh anti-Obama Bloc than for actual Democrats who believe in the values and principles of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Over in crazyland, where their only regret is that Cheney wasn't their candidate last year instead of McCain, they're all excited about Toomey's clear shot at the now worthless Republican nomination. On the other hand, I wonder if this could help David Frum decide on suicide.

Although this will be a blow to rightists-- when Franken is finally seated Democrats will now have at least a theoretical filibuster-proof majority-- it won't do much for progressives. Remember, as awful as Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Blanche Lincoln (AR) have been on core issues-- lately joined by reactionary freshmen Kay Hagen (NC), Mark Begich (AK) and Michael Bennet (CO)-- all of them, except Nelson, are significantly better than Specter. This year Nelson and Specter has each scored a 33.33 on the progressive scale when it comes to tough partisan votes that split the parties. And when it comes to selling out to vested interests, few members of the Senate are as corrupt as Specter. For example, the only current members of the Senate who have taken more legalized bribe money from the finance/insurance/real estate sector than Specter ($5,753,310) are former presidential candidates McCain ($32,423,813), Kerry ($19,196,427), Dodd ($13,238,806) plus egregiously corrupt handmaidens of the banksters like Schumer ($12,834,746) and Lieberman ($9,981,924). Specter even beat out the most ethicless Republican in the Senate, Miss McConnell ($5,013,778). Specter is still likely to play up to Pennsylvania conservatives but this still looks bad to ordinary news consumers who will just be thinking that the Republican Party is falling apart and has moved so far to the right that they can't even hold on to mainstream conservatives like Specter. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), another mainstream conservative being pressured by the extreme right, isn't happy: "...[P]olitical diversity makes a party stronger and ultimately we are heading to having the smallest political tent in history for any political party the way things are unfolding.” Yep, it's pretty much the Limbaugh/Secession Party now-- and that is one really small, stinky tent.




UPDATES GALORE

Meanwhile Republican senators (not far right fanatic Jim DeMint) who had donated money to Specter's re-election campaign-- like Alexander and Corker of Tennessee-- are asking for refunds. No doubt partisans like Reid will make good the dough. They've already promised Specter to squelch any attempts by a real Democrat to primary him and Reid has stupidly guaranteed him all sorts of seniority enticements, even though Specter was already showing himself to be an unprincipled hack by bragging how he would vote against key Obama initiatives and nominations.

Even Lindsey Graham-- safe from the wrath of South Carolina teabaggers for another 5 years-- blamed the extreme right wing loons (like his SC colleague, perhaps?) for the way the GOP is shrinking into a small, narrowly ideological and regional party. "I don't want to be a member of the Club for Growth,” he wept. “I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country-- and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective. As Republicans we got a problem.” Yeah, but they decided to roll the dice on Limbaugh. Soon their vote will be exactly equal to his market share.

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13 Comments:

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

I hope the Unions here in Pa find someone to primary him.

Specter stands for no one except himself.

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Ian said...

If Specter's record is equal to Nelson's, that makes him a major improvement over Nelson. Up until now, when Specter votes against the Dems, he's been following his party leaders at the expense of public opinion in his state. Remove pressure from the Republican leadership with pressure from the Democratic leadership (and, importantly, from Obama) and Specter (D) should be a substantial improvement over Specter (R)...all the more since he needs to do something to court labor in PA. (He may not have to support EFCA, to see that it passes, voting for cloture may be enough.)

We would almost certainly have ended up with someone better after 2010, but Dems are likely to pick up seats in 2010 anyway. Right now though, we need to votes to break Republican obstructionism. So yes, it's probably a loss for PA, but it may be a gain for the party and the country as a whole. Especially if his move encourages moderate Republicans to bolt the party.

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

Specter is another Joe Lieberman.I am in PA and I would rather vote for Toomey than him.

I hope Joe Sestak runs..

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger Juan Liberale said...

The great thing about Specter crossing the line is not the benefit to the democrats.

The great thing is that it is a horrific propaganda blow to the republicans.

 
At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

A REALLY stinky Rush Limbaugh tent. Nothin left in there cept assault weapon lovers, christianist wrong, and homophobes.

Hey how about we let Texas secede, EXCEPT for the state capital Austin (rockin town, like NOT being in Texas) and then BOTH Maine Senators, Snowe and Collins switch parties.

I think it would be very good for the country.

 
At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

A logical move. With borderline states electing Dems and moving the entire party to the right, Specter would fit right in. On the other hand, I really wish he hadn't, since it meant a perfectly good progressive (for Pennsylvania) doesn't have a shot at this next time around. The state Democratic apparatus is even now probably falling all over themselves seeing who can drop trousers first, and I'm sure that's not going to change.

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Eureka Springs, AR said...

Nothing good can come of this. Not if Spector gets to siphon off D money...much more if he wins. He's a clone of Grima Wormtongue.. he will inject the worst language in any bill and call it a great day for Dems. At best, the gang of 8 just went to 9.. and we are okay with that?

The overton effect is already a disaster. Never in my wildest nightmares would I have imagined such complicit comfort with this news as I am witnessing inside my favorite progressive corners today.

 
At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Santorum! ewwwww.

I think it WOULD be great if a progressive knocked Specter off, but then they would lose in the election...

same fantasy as in some of the congressional races in conservative caves, Bachmann in MN06. I would say progressive money ISN'T wasted there if they spend it backing an INDEPENDENT Conservative:)

 
At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

Worse still, Specter skulking across the aisle means another ally for that arch-progressive, Harry Reid.

Hey, Ken: note the sarcasm.

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Juan Liberale said...

It now looks like the dems made Specter some pretty vile promises for the switch. Like clearing the boards for him of any primary competition and full dem financial support plus committee chair.

The dems purchased him for much more than he was worth.

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger Norris Hall said...

Though conservatives say they are glad to see Spector leave, his departure marks a sad chapter for Republicans. That's because, while many Americans support their smaller government, less spending philosphy...They just can’t stand their anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-enviornment,pro Christian, pro white, pro gun position.
And the Rush Limbaugh Taliban Christian wing of the Republican party has made it clear that if you can’t buy the entire package, "you need not apply"

Republicans are seriously in danger of becoming an extinct party

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

"Republicans are seriously in danger of becoming an extinct party"

Not with the mainstream media, some huge PACs, and tons of media on their side, they're not. If the economy doesn't look sufficiently improved by 2008 they'll make "Obama's failure" a talking point that all the DC crowd and all the networks pick up. Watch it happen.

For the rest, I'm wondering if Arlen won't do a bit of moderating now that he's completely lost the Rethug vote, and must make nice-nice to Dem voters at home? Who will obviously prove a tougher proposition than the leaders in his new Party.

 
At 10:38 PM, Anonymous me said...

The repubs can keep the bastard. I don't want him.

If there's a primary, I will contribute to whoever challenges him.

 

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