Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it - Henry David Thoreau

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Specter Reax

For a guy who supposedly wasn’t all that important to begin with, Arlan Specter’s defection is generating quite a bit of reaction. Jonathan Chait compares today’s climate with the way things were during Clinton’s first term:

it’s another sign that Barack Obama’s first two years may not look like Bill Clinton’s. In 1993-94, Clinton’s approval ratings sagged, his party lost special elections everywhere, and conservative Democrats were switching to the GOP. Obama’s approval ratings are high and holding steady, Democrats remain far more popular than Republicans, Democrats held the first special election, and now they’ve picked up a party switch. It’s still early, but Obama is starting to build a self-sustaining psychology of success.

In other words, Obama seems to be doing to the Republicans what Reagan did to the Democrats-marginalizing them to the point of near irrelevancy (although they certainly haven’t needed help from him in that area). Speaking of which, Jim DeMint’s reaction seems to be indictive of their current mood:

“I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.”

Well, congratulations, Jim, because the way things are going you guys won’t even have those 30 seats within a few years. As Sullivan notes:

As the ranks of moderate Republicans thin, and as the GOP becomes increasingly the party of Dixie, one wonders how long the GOP will survive as a real party in whole swathes of the country.

It’s a serious question, as the Republicans now seem to be what the Democrats were in the Fifties and early Seventies-a combination of provincial regionalism and fringe party politics. If Obama’s liberalism seems more acceptable and therefore more mainstream, it’s partly because the Republicans have made it so through their own self-destructive behavior.

Specter’s defection may not seem to mean a whole lot on the surface. After all, as Hal noted, he was old, he wanted to survive, so he jumped ship. But what about the future? Who will be able to run as a moderate Republican without the support of the party’s increasingly shrinking and radical base? Specter was right about one thing-it used to be a “Big Tent” party. Now it’s more like a sleeping bag.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/28/09 at 06:05 PM in Politics • Permalink


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