Wednesday, April 29, 2009


If you haven't heard by now, Senator Arlen Specter officially left the GOP and has joined the Democratic Party. But why now? Why didn't he do this the first year the Democrats took control like the spineless state legislators in Georgia who switched parties when Republicans took control? It's because he can't really make it out of the Republican primary. In 2004, Specter has the primary well in hand. This time around Toomey already had a slight lead in polling late last year. Once Specter broke rank and voted for the stimulus plan, Toomey's lead skyrocketed. Last I looked, Toomey had a 21% lead over Specter among voters who identified themselves as Republicans. Specter's political future required him to either become an independent or Democrat. Now the Democrats have a theoretical fillibuster-proof 60 votes, but this is the Senate. It's going to be hard to get 60 on your side for anything.

My personal opinion is that Phil Gramm set the proper template on how a politician should switch parties. When he became a Republican, he resigned his seat and reran in the special election. But that shows a sort of cojones that politicians typically just don't have. But such a move hasn't been done before or since as far as I know.


Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Sounds like he resigned before the GOP kicked him out. They've been culling the party of centrists for a while now, and Specter had been the poster child of RINOs to the hard right for some time.

Besides, the seat belongs to the people of Pennsylvania, not the Dems or the GOP.

There would have been more of a case for anger if Specter had won election last November and was switching now. But since they're gearing up for the campaign season of 2010 right now, I'd consider it much less of a faux pas.

Right now Toomey is doing a little dance, because he doesn't have a major primary fight and can gear up for the general election, while the the left-left will go after Specter in the primary a la Lieberman in CT.

(Though facing the Move On crowd right now may actually help Specter distance himself and assert his independent streak...)

Dante said...

Why exactly are Republicans the only politicians to receive the "centrist" label? Zell Miller wasn't a "centrist." He was a "conservative Democrat." Why don't we call Specter what he really was? He was a liberal Republican. All that newfound popularity thanks to Obama and Democrats still have to hide what they really are.

Specter will assert his independent streak by supporting card check. He was expecting the Republican Party to be ecstatic that he was finally on their side on an issue but they were not overly joyed by it. This move will make one of my 2009 predictions a reality.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Specter voted with the GOP 60% of the time. To paraphrase Senator Lindsay Grahm...if the Republican Party does not have room for people who agree with them 60% of the time...

And we'd love to have them in the Democratic Party, by the way. At least I would, to temper our left wing. They can join our Democratic centrists like Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson.

It shows how far to the right the GOP has gone if a centrist like Specter is considered a "liberal Republican." The GOP has sea-changed to the right in the last 6 months. During the last 8 years, singluar left wingers got all huffy with the way things were going and talked about moving to Canada. During the last 100 days, GOP governors and state legislatures have discussed secession because their side lost in free and fair elections due to their own behavior for the last 8 years. Like, whoa.

And I like how the rightwingoverse is reacting to Specter's departure as some sort of purification ritual, as if he was the only GOP member responsible for the last 8 years of government expansion and inefficiency.Memories are shorter than I thought. It doesn't matter how big or small you want government to be, if the parts of government that exist do not work on your watch, you lose.