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« Sinful | Main | Whom to believe? »

Apr 28, 2009


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The planet recently had its colon pressure washed (0 tip) by Republicans and Specter joins a group who wants to use a wire brush on it, while it's still tender as a mother's love. Why not.


I agree that the party has moved to the right some. As a moderate I am OK with that but see the issues,problems. I also realize the consequences.

That being typed, I believe AS moved to the left a bit too over the years. I also agree with some Rs that AS saw a real Republican primary challenger coming for his Senate seat and bolted as a way to have a shot at keeping his seat. We will see what the folks of PA have to say.

Dont like party changers no matter the direction. Seems kinda like cheating the folks a bit.

AS likes to play at politics and he will be the Ds problem now.


I don't think he's worth a third-round pick. Bad knees.

Jeffrey Sykes

Go Whig, baby.

Fred Gregory

From TNR, a surprisingly brutal post- mortem.

Unprincipled Hack (D-PA)

"When a politician switches parties, it’s customary for the party he’s abandoned to denounce him as an unprincipled hack, and the party he’s joined to praise him as a brave convert who’s genuinely seen the light. But I think it’s pretty clear that Specter is an unprincipled hack. If his best odds of keeping his Senate seat lay in joining the Communist party, he’d probably do that."


It's not a unique path Specter has chosen. Democrats are in the majority and let's face it, it's more fun to be on the winning side. It would be a stretch to say he all of a sudden doesn't have principles. The same could be said for any politician voting on legislation not borne out of their own party. I wish him luck. This is much less news than Lieberman switching to Independent and see how that turned out? Much aflame about nothing;.


Wooo. When Gary Bauer calls you nutz, it's time to visit Mount Self-Reflection.


Link, even.


a republican turned democrat looking in MT Self-Reflection. priceless. very funny. Blzbub, i'm figgerin you out. Youre not one of us and youre sure not one of them. What are you?

Ed Cone

Lots more at work here than wanting to play on the winning team, NTG. The conservative challenger was a big primary threat -- that's the real story, far beyond Specter himself: the squeeze-out of moderates and the hard-coring of the GOP.


I hope he takes all the other moderates with him. He will soon find he has no home with the Democrats either because they are all too far to the Left. There is no room in that "big tent" either. The more clearly defined the policy differences, the better.


Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure...


He's been a RINO for years. Wait and see how he votes. I bet you won't notice much difference. I can't wait for him to be the 60th vote for the fillibuster buster. Should be very telling.


"You're not one of us and youre sure not one of them. What are you?"

You have just taken the first tentative step down the path to truth. Are you sure you want to go further? Can you HANDLE it?


Specter’s explanation for his defection today is both breathtaking in its honesty and appalling in the nakedly revealed mindset and value system of an elected U.S. congressman. By that I of course mean shameless self-interest above all else.

In taking stock of his re-election prospects via opinion polls, etc, a moment of clarity emerged in the realization that he would likely not survive the Republican primaries.
Despite his lame assertion about his political philosophy NOW being more in line with Democrats than Republicans, we are supposed to believe that it took him 20 years AFTER Reagan to realize that the Republican party has moved to the right? Does the recent choice of John McCain and the demise of the religious right represent a further shift to the right? Isn’t that just a little skewed coming from the 4th most liberal-voting GOP senator? And I guess by contrast the Democratic party has shown no such shift to the left? As much as I hate this saying, which I’ve never used before, “puh-LEASE!”

His further justification in being an independent voter past, present and future is horsecrap. He doesn’t need to change parties to continue in that role. The cries I’ve heard today about “Benedict Arlen” are off-target. You cannot be a traitor to that which you were never loyal to in the first place. I think NewtoGSO was at least half-right in saying it “ it's more fun to be on the winning side”, certainly better than being on the outside. Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation (though some of you make me wonder sometime) and he has every right to do this, but please spare us the crap about all this motivation to “follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.”, when it is so plain that his actions are driven solely by what he thinks is best for Arlen Specter.
What is really sad is that I have no doubt that the majority of congressman would do the same thing under similar circumstances, in either direction. This is a nonpartisan prime illustration of what and who politicians will really stand up for when the rubber meets the road. While there may be short-term winners and losers here, its real significance doesn’t bode well for any of us.


Hmmm. On second thought, the air is pretty thin at the top of Mount Self Reflection...


Congratulations Senator Sestak.


CP's comment about Specter's loyalty underscores the overwhelming importance of that concept to conservatives. In essence, Specter is being damned because his loyalty to conservatism was not sufficient to allow himself to be martyred in a primary fight. A political party that demands its elected members sacrifce themselves to ideological purity -- especially an ideology that has been rejected by the voters -- is a doomed party.

The GOP really is engaged in a downward spiral toward political irrelevance. We saw it during the campaign when each more strident and extreme outburst drove more and more traditional Republicans away, and more and more independents to Obama. Rather than react in a rational way, conservatives reveled in the purity of their diminishing numbers and cranked the ideology vetting up another notch, driving more people away.

Yeserday's polling showed 21 percent of Americans are willing to call themselves Republicans. The demographics of age, gender, race, income, and location are stacked against conservatives. Yet, they still gather the wagons, sit inside the laager, and compete with each other for badges of honor marking their fidelty to the cause. Most of us have stopped paying attention.

So, by switching, Specter recongized political reality, unlike the true believers he left behind.

From a politician's point of view, the primary purpose of a political party is to help him or her get elected and stay elected. it's becoming clear that, apart from clusters of regional strength, the GOP and conservatism can no longer provide that support.

Graham Shevlin

One of the things I have learned from watching electoral politics over the years is that when a political party whose ideology has led it into bad policies and decisions is rejected in an election, the first thing that the party does is to re-affirm its belief in the ideology, and marginalize any pragmatists within the party who try to argue otherwise.
This always leads to a period of "wandering in the wilderness", as the party debate and noise machine is captured by a vocal group who claim that the reason that the party lost was because it did not stick to "principles" (whatever those might be). Less smart parties then engage in marginalization of people who disagree with that viewpoint, often to the extent that they quit politics altogether or (in some cases) defect to a different party.
The only question that is up for debate is how long this period of "life in the wilderness" lasts until a critical mass of party members realize that the party has made itself unelectable, and regain control of the party policy apparatus from the faction that has ideological blinkers.
This process can happen astonishingly quickly.
Does any of this sound familiar as we watch what is currently happening inside the Republican Party?
I also note that Olympia Snowe's comments today are not exactly positive for the Republican Party. It sounds like a none-too subtle hint that the Democratic Party may soon get seat #60 in the senate without having to wait for Al Franken to be seated. The GOP ideology police needs to STFU and consider the lesson of Jim Jeffords, but I can confidently predict that they will do no such thing. Denial runs deep in the mindset of people whose ideology has led to their party being rejected by the electorate.


The man is 79 years old and can't get enough. That level of power must be intoxicating beyond my understanding. They really shouldn't be allowed to stay until they are wearing depends...just bring home the pork.


A lot of people have little grasp of history. Anyway, I love the Democrat's overconfidence and firm belief that America has become a Left leaning nation.

Roger Greene

Wasn't he an attorney for the Warren Commission? I always thought he was an attention whore. Of course he has lots of company.


Justcorbly, as much as I hate labels, sometimes I'm tempted to think you are a liberal.

Seriously, more than anyone else in here, you stop me dead in my tracks from paralysis of not knowing where to start, so I will try to be selective in my responses.

Before you write the final epitaph, do you know what book debuted at #1 on the New York Times best seller list 4 weeks ago and has remained entrenched there since? Keep in mind that them little clusters of southern hayseeds ain't much on reading fancy books, even them edjeekated uns who learnt how to.


firm belief that America has become a Left leaning nation

Ahem. That's not exactly the metric that comes to mind.


Confucious say: Those who walk forward while looking backward tend to run into walls.

Ed Cone

Lots going on here, but let's not lose sight of the larger political story.

It's not just Specter who left the GOP. His vote in the Senate aside, it's easy enough to dismiss him as an opportunist.

But according to his statement, more than 200K PA Republicans switched to Democratic registration last year.

That narrowing of the party strengthens the primary challenger and pushes the party further right.

PA was very recently seen as a battleground state, now it may be solidly blue for a while.


Specter has given you guys a new hitch in your giddyup...a spring in your step. I thought the beast was leaning a little, then wouldn't you know, they threw in another side show. You have found new meaning outside of your own lives once again, a reason to doubt and deny yourselves and express your faith in your fearless leaders. You have learned to live with your pain. What a way to end the first hundred days of change, by unchanging something and convincing the codependents and enablers that there was a change.


CP: I have no idea what's on the NYT's best seller list.

I don't believe I made any degrogatory references to "little clusters of southern hayseeds." I did reference the fact that current conservative voting strength is essentially a regional affair. That's a reality that can be confirmed by looking at the numbers.

But, what really interests me is the attack on Specter for disloyalty. It's as if conservatives expect their elected officials to vote as the party wishes regardless of what their own judgment says. I can understand conservtives being upset with Specter for bolting, and for years of voting a moderate position. Those actions weaken their political position in Congress. However, the disloyalty thing throws me. This is politics, not religion, after all. We're not talking about revealed truth.

Jeffrey Sykes

@JC:"The demographics of age, gender, race, income, and location are stacked against conservatives."

That is all true. But I think demographics plus the easy button creates a synthesis of change that will be impossible to undo.

I see the world through the lens of history, which is a major driver of my brand of conservatism.

Others see the world through the lens of possible futures.

Lot's of gray matter there, but that's my condensed view.


Here 'tis.


That's nice, CP. But you have nothing to say about the loyalty bit?

Jeffrey: I see the purpose of a political party as getting candidates elected, not in preserving a belief system. Conservatives seemed to have reversed that by holding steadfast to their beliefs at the cost of political power. It's as if they see the almost 80 pecent of the population who no longer consider themselves Republicans as only suffering a momentary delusion and who will, at some point, return to the faith.


Chelsea Handler's book is less polarizing and more non-fiction. Soreloserville always puts out a pretty thin tome after their asses are handed to them, usually excoriating the ones in the group who warned of the weakness and unfolded the fallacies in the platform. O'reilly, Hannity and the etceterati will always have the attention of a fraction of the politicized, which gives the rest of us sodbusters, barely holding to our seedcorn, some hope.


"But you have nothing to say about the loyalty bit?"

I thought you noted that I already did.

"The cries I’ve heard today about “Benedict Arlen” are off-target. You cannot be a traitor to that which you were never loyal to in the first place."

"CP's comment about Specter's loyalty underscores the overwhelming importance of that concept to conservatives."

Other than that, what you seem to be saying that Specter was forced out based on failure to meet certain “demands” which is one way of looking at it. But on the other hand he made the independent decision to leave based on his own free will and self-interest. In that regard the interpretation of him being punished for disloyalty can only be carried so far. And you must admit that given two ways of looking at something, you generally embrace the one that pleases you one and discard the other. My only other point is that either conservativism is not quite dead yet, despite all their strident and extreme outbursts, or that those few remaining must have a lot of free reading time on their hands.


CP, I'm not saying in any way that Specter was "forced out." I assume he switched for practical political reasons. I see noting wrong with that.

The GOP's emphasis on loyalty is well known. The best example is the bloc voting in Congress. Many are critical of Specter for alleged disloyalty. I guess I don't undestand why a party or its members would expect a politician to value loyalty more the self-preservation. After all, the party exists only to advance the interests of individual politicians.

If the GOP was not so fixated on ideological purity and loyalty, it might have found a way to accommodate people like Specter and, pehaps, even attracted a few of the Blue Dog Dems.


And how did the Dems treat Lieberman's "loyalty" after he supported McCain? Censure?


...how did the Dems treat Lieberman's "loyalty" after he supported McCain?

Equally poorly.

But, then, I don't speak for the Dems and they don't speak for me. I vote for them because they're much more likely to institute policies I desire.

Pointing to the stupidity of Dems re: Leiberman to deflate criticism of conservative strategy is a talk radio tactic. The two have nothing to do with each other beyond the fact that people get ticked off when someone leaves the flock. The larger question is why do conservatives put such a premium on loyalty to party and ideology even when that is politically self-defeating.


"why do conservatives put such a premium on loyalty to party and ideology even when that is politically self-defeating?"
Good question. Possibly because some of them actually do believe in their principles enough to prioritize them over political expediency, self-preservation and even survival. Whether you see that as admirable or destructive and stupid depends on your own value system. History is replete with leaders who prioritized principle over political convenience, even at the risk of sacrificing power. For some it paid off, others not.

From what I have read from you, I would predict that if you were in a position of power, you would probably have the same tendency, and I mean that as a compliment.


I'm just saying neither side has a corner on so called loyalty. I understand that Pelosi has a memory like an elephant, and I'm sure the Clinton machine probably left some roadkill behind as well.


A person who puts winning over principle is a partisan hack. There is a difference between compromise and being a total sellout.


CP, I'm not sure I'd make a very good politician because I doubt my willingness to make the compromises and concessions necessary to get things done. Then again, maybe not.

While inflexible adherence to principle may be an understandable, if less than effective, trait in matters of faith or ideology, it's often a barrier to political achievement. So, while I may admire the intransigence of a politician on a certain issue, I can also resent it because that stobborness stands in the way of getting something done. I.e., I'd rather have 80 percent of what I want rather than nothing but the pristine consciences of politicians.

Two examples:

I'd like to see single-payer universal health coverage. I don't want insurance companies dictating medical treatment and the length of hospital stays. I've experienced that personally and with members of my family. It's immoral that patients are deprived of treatment against medical advice simply because their insurer (or HMO) says they won't pay.

But, so far, Obama doesn't seem to be enthused about single-payer. So, I want politicians in the House and Senate to test the waters re: single payer, but to abandon it if passage of Obama's plan is threatened.

Second example:

Why don't Republicans in Pennsylvania run a moderate, centrist candidate rather than Toomey? If they did, he or she would, I suspect, stand a real chance of beating Specter in the general election. A right-wing guy like Toomey is just going to turn out people who vote for Specter not out of any real enthusiasm but out of fear that Toomey might win. Of what value is Toomey's stand on principle if he loses?


Toomey still has to win the primary. Politics are dynamic. The Dems were dead and buried in'94. How did that turn out? It did turn Clinton into a centrist. It seems after time the party in power eventually wears out its welcome. Power corrupts.


Speaking of loyalty to principles, a county GOP chair in Michigan has uninvited Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. from a speaking engagement because, apparently, he came out in support of civil unions for gays.

The chair said: “The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite."

Good luck with that.

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