Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Specter of the None

Arlen Specter is leaving the GOP.  A few scattered thoughts.

First, I hope the people who blasted Specter for his stimulus vote are happy with the 60-seat Democratic majority.  I’m sure Limbaugh and various bloggers will be saying “good riddance”.  I understand that; I didn’t like the stimulus vote either.  But while Specter is on the left side of the GOP, his vote could have held back some of the stupider ideas of the Obama Administration (card check, for example).  I don’t know that he’ll vote against his new party out of principle.

This is the problem with wanting a “purge” of “moderate” members of the GOP.  Eventually, there’s going to be no one left.  GOP membership in polls is already down into the low 20’s.  When you purge the left wing of the party, you have no chance of winning left-leaning states.

Second, this is a disaster for the GOP’s hopes of holding onto PA.  Thanks to party affiliation changes and Specter’s name recognition, he is almost certain to win re-election.  But Specter is also a 78-year-old cancer survivor.  There is a chance he will not live out his term and 2016 will see a younger incumbent Democrat defending the seat.

Third, this has nothing to do with any principles Specter may or may not have.  This is the same naked political calculation that led Lieberman to become an “independent”.  It is highly likely that Specter would have lost the Republican primary—he says as much himself when he notes that 200,000 Pennsylvanians have switched parties recently.  There’s no second chances in PA and he failed to get an open primary passed. He wants to stay in the Senate. And since the GOP threw him under a bus, he might as well return the favor.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 10:26 AM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 04/28/09 at 11:43 AM from United States

I know Most here might not like Specter, but this is bad news.  I know Specter was polling behind the Conservative challenger in the primary, but thatg guy most likely wont win anyway.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 12:04 PM from United States

As I posted over at VO, this isn’t really a move based on principle as much as it is based on cynicism and desperation.  He knew that even if he managed to overcome Toomey, he would probably get waxed by whoever the Dems ran in 2010.  I don’t think even the stimulus vote would have saved him, particularly when the Dems are looking to take down anyone who they perceive as weak.(Look how Collins got saddled yesterday with “removing the pandemic funding” from the stimulus, even though there is no evidence it was relevant to economic recovery and Collins voted to move the stimulus bill along)

Thanks to party affiliation changes and Specter’s name recognition, he is almost certain to win re-election.  But Specter is also a 78-year-old cancer survivor.  There is a chance he will not live out his term and 2016 will see a younger incumbent Democrat defending the seat.

I doubt that if he didn’t live out his next term or didn’t stay all six years that Rendell would appoint another Republican, not in this political climate.  And Strom Thurmond managed to hold on past his 100th birthday, so don’t underestimate his ability to survive, even after cancer.

Really, this is just a desperate attempt to stay in office--a more realistic politician would have understood that the times were passing him by and he would get out of the way if he couldn’t win his party primary or as an independent.  I imagine that while the PA Dems will welcome him with open arms, there are also probably plenty of them that are disappointed they won’t be able to take his scalp as a trophy next year.

Posted by Jay W. on 04/28/09 at 12:07 PM from United States

I understand the problems that a fillibuster-proof majority entail, but if Specter is switching parties because he doesn’t think he’ll be able to win reelection, isn’t he exactly the kind of person the GOP doesn’t want in its ranks?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 12:12 PM from United States

I think Specter might have still won the general—name recognition goes a long way.  But I’m pretty sure he was going to lose the primary.

I agree with heartless.  As I posted, this is a cynical move by Specter.

Posted by Sean Galbraith on 04/28/09 at 12:17 PM from Canada

I imagine Norm Coleman has been getting phone calls from Michael Steele to drag his loss out indefinitely.

Posted by JimK on 04/28/09 at 12:31 PM from United States

This is a fairly unfair characterization of the situation. Specter has betrayed the GOP for...well damn near decades now. To categorize this situation as “throwing him under the bus” is disingenuous.

He’s not a Republican and hasn’t been for a very, very long time.  You shouldn’t fault Republicans for NOT acting like Republicans and then attack them when they do by criticizing a dolt like Specter.  Specter deserved every ounce of criticism, and it is unfair to lay blame for his turncoat behavior at the feet of Republicans.  Specter is at fault here, and you worded it so the blame lies with everyone *but* Specter.

You shouldn’t get to have it both ways, Hal.  Unless you are a vacuous idiot like someone we all know. Then of course having it both ways is the entire point.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 12:32 PM from United States

And if he was going to vote with the Democrats anyway, was there really a point to having him other than having an R beside his name? I mean, if he was gonna vote largely with the Democrats anyway, what’s changed?

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/28/09 at 03:43 PM from United States

It may be cynical, but Hal is right when he says that the GOP seems intent on purging moderates from its ranks, people who still could have made a difference when it counted. As it is, they are willfully making themselves an increasingly smaller minority that is out of touch with most of the voting population.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 03:57 PM from United States

Jim, Specter has been very conservative on issues like gun rights, crime and defense.  And, right now, he was a particularly key vote in keeping card check from becoming law.  When you only have 41 seats in Congress, that’s not the sort of person you throw away because he bought into Obama’s Keynsian bullshit.

I’m not fond of Specter, who has been weak on a number of important issues, mostly fiscal.  But the shrieks of “traitor!” especially coming from, not people on this blog, but pundits and politicians who stood around while the GOP went on a spending spree, was ridiculous.  I suspect it had less to do with fiscal conservatism—of which the GOP has been in short supply—and more to do with Specter’s liberal positions on social issues.

Basically, I don’t think anyone covered themselves with glory here.  The GOP alienated a key vote on a critical issue at a time when they can’t spare it. And Specter cynically changed parties to stay in office.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 04:00 PM from United States

PS - But if you want me to pick the worst person in this situation, I agree that it would be Specter.  The GOP is dumber than a bag of hammers, but Specter revealed himself as pure politician—willing to jump parties or do anything to stay in office.  I expect him to sell out on card check quite soon.

Here’s what i know: liberals have been e-mailing me all day about how wonderful it is that Specter has changed parties.  That’s got to be bad.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 04:25 PM from United States

As it is, they are willfully making themselves an increasingly smaller minority that is out of touch with most of the voting population.

You and all the other liberals seem to be making this the fault of the GOP, when it’s clearly and completely Specter’s.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 04:29 PM from United States

"Little Billy! Your screaming drove Fido away! What’s the matter with you?!”

“I was screaming because Fido bit me!”

“Honestly, Billy, I just don’t know what’s the matter with you.”

“Fido BIT ME!”

“You’re going to wind up chasing all the dogs away, at this rate.”

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 05:21 PM from United States

I wonder what’s going to happen if he actually shows some spine and sides with the Republicans on an issue or three.  You *know* the Daily Kossers will be screaming for a “real Democrat” to be elected in his place.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 07:29 PM from Germany

I wonder what’s going to happen if he actually shows some spine and sides with the Republicans on an issue or three.  You *know* the Daily Kossers will be screaming for a “real Democrat” to be elected in his place.

I’m curious to see what happens if he ends up beating Toomey next year.  I have a feeling all the issues you mentioned--card check, gun rights, etc--are going to end up being changed in opposition to previously held stances (in other words, Specter becomes the John Cole of the Senate). 

We’ll see if he stays firm to the conservative stances he has held up to now, but I think he had to make a hell of a deal with the DNC in order to make this switch, and we’re going to end up seeing the results of that deal over the next year.

Posted by JimK on 04/28/09 at 07:38 PM from United States

Hal, you are still trying to have it both ways.

You condemn Specter for switching for no reason other than to win, but you condemn the Republican party for not keeping him around for...no reason other than to win?

Specter is wrong, Repubs - for once - are right to condemn him.  It’s not that complicated.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 08:00 PM from Germany

Specter is wrong, Repubs - for once - are right to condemn him.  It’s not that complicated.

One thing to note--which Specter admitted--is that Republicans in Pennsylvania are pissed off at him primarily because of him getting the spendulus pushed through.  If this is the ultimately the reason for him switching, it hardly seems cogent to argue, as WVR and Sully are doing, that this is the result of “the fringe” pushing him out, unless it has become “fringe” to not spend nearly a trillion dollars in Chinese borrowed funds in one fell swoop.

Specter wasn’t necessarily liked, but he was tolerated because of his aforementioned stances on other issues.  It’s seems that his blatant disregard for the financial health of the country is the straw that led Pennsylvania Republicans to finally tell him to hit the bricks.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 08:12 PM from United States

I’m reminded of the TV Tropes page “The Unfair Sex”, which in short is summarized thus:

When he cheats, it’s his fault. When she cheats, it’s his fault.

That’s what it’s like from certain people already named. When the Republicans do something stupid, it’s the Republicans’ fault. When the Democrats do something stupid, it’s the Republicans’ fault.

I mean, c’mon, it’s bad enough going to the AP page and realize that it ought to be renamed the OP, because it’s totally the Obama Pressroom in there (check out their puff piece on “Candidate Obama vs. President Obama”, where they take the opportunity to bitch out the Republicans for not voting on the beloved porkulus), do we have to come to sites that actually try to claim to be on the other side of the aisle and see the same damn spin?

Posted by JimK on 04/28/09 at 08:26 PM from United States

Heartless did you get my email recently? Not sure if the account listed in your profile is one you check regularly...but I emailed you.

I guess that was obvious by my asking if you got it. :)

Posted by Thrill on 04/28/09 at 08:43 PM from United States

Yeah, Hal.  Specter is pretty much the “Democrat-Lite” that you guys have been bitching about for all these years.  He needs to go if the Republicans are ever again going to be taken seriously as the fiscally responsible party.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 08:54 PM from United States

He needs to go if the Republicans are ever again going to be taken seriously as the fiscally responsible party.

Along with just about the entire GOP.  Why single out Specter?  He never pretended to be a fiscal conservative.  The people hounding him out talk about fiscal conservatism and then spend like maniacs.  Which is worse?

And with Specter out, we’re liking to get big spending and card check.  How is that an improvement?

I had no problem with the primary challenge to Specter and would probably have supported Toomey.  As I said, I’m not a fan of Specter.  But the response to his stimulus vote was way overboard and incredibly viscous, especially here in PA.

The simple fact is that a large fraction of the American public is against us.  The way to improve that situation is not to purge the party but to persuade—to make the case for fiscal conservatism to the American public so that opportunistic politicians like Specter are forced to move right.

As the tea parties demonstrate, there is a receptive audience out there.  We need to spend more time convincing them and less time bashing heretics.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 08:54 PM from Germany

I guess that was obvious by my asking if you got it. :)

Whoops, sorry about the lack of response, hadn’t checked that address in a while--I just read it and sent an email back to you.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 08:59 PM from United States

Just to clarify, Thill.  I agree that Specter had to go.  It’s just that electing him as a Democrat wasn’t what I had in mind.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 09:11 PM from Germany

Hey guys, off topic, but I figure this ought to “brighten” your day--please don’t raid Walgreen’s of all their pepto-bismol:

UAW said to get 55% of Chrysler

Since the government owns over half of GM, I’m guessing Ford is either going to come under the government umbrella soon (their workforce now owns one of their competitors, after all), or they’re going to cut bait and GTFO.

Hal, I know you said that this wasn’t quite an Atlas Shrugged situation vis a vis the national climate, and I still agree with that assessment, but damned if the Obama administration isn’t giving it everything they got to make it so.

Posted by on 04/28/09 at 11:36 PM from United States

The big villian here is the GOP national party and W the pulled out the stops to support Spector in his last primary challenge.  He was facing an uphill fight and the national party came in and saved him.  They should have let him die and been replaced.

Now he is an amazingly ungrateful bastard for turnign on them a few years later, but, well, he is an amazingly ungrateful bastard.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/29/09 at 08:26 AM from United States

Now he is an amazingly ungrateful bastard for turnign on them a few years later, but, well, he is an amazingly ungrateful bastard.

Well said. The response of the PA GOP is about the same.

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