Holy filibuster-proof majority, Batman! Sen. Arlen Specter R D-PA has decided to switch parties and run as a Dem! I should think the Hosebags, aka the GOP, are collectively shitting their pants in fury ’round about now. Specter elaborates:
“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary [...] I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.”
“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”
Democrats and sane people. In a recent poll, only 21% were willing to identify themselves as Republicans, down from 25% in a survey conducted in late March. Is this part of the Fox News-sponsored Tea Bag Effect? Or are more old skool Republicans realizing all that hot air about Rush Limbaugh being the “de facto leader of the GOP” wasn’t hot air at all. And that unstable, incendiary loons like Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Michelle Maglalang Malkin really are running the (freak) show now.
Predictably, the Hill GOP are saying it’s all a cowardly political power-play on Specter’s part. Rick Santorum, aka “the gasbag who just won’t go away”, was relatively kind to old Arlen, saying:
“I spoke with Arlen this morning and he explained his reasoning to me. I told him I was deeply disappointed that he felt he had to do it. It is a huge blow to the Republican’s ability to moderate any of Obama’s very liberal proposals. I can only hope that Arlen will be as independent as a Democrat as he has been as a Republican.”
However, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) decided to lay it on thick, Texas style:
“Senator Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation. While this presents a short-term disappointment, voters next year will have a clear choice to cast their ballots for a potentially unbridled Democrat super-majority versus the system of checks-and-balances that Americans deserve.”
No doubt the Rush Limbaugh/Fox News/right wing echo chamber has already begun to resound with shrieks of “no fair!”, and baseless allegations that we’re slouching towards Gomorrah, but where does that leave moderate Republicans like Olympia Snowe? According to Ryan Grim:
“Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate, said Tuesday that Arlen Specter’s abandonment of the GOP is “devastating,” both “personally and I think for the party.”
“I’ve always been deeply concerned about the views of the Republican Party nationally in terms of their exclusionary policies and views towards moderate Republicans,” said Snowe, who has been approached, she said, by Democrats in the past about switching parties.
“Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party “underscores the blunt reality” that the GOP is not a welcome place for moderates, she said.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said simply: “I just regret his decision.”
As you can see from the vid, RNC head Michael Steele is frantically peddling to gain traction on situation and what’s left of his leadership. He also seems kinda pissed that Arlen Spector didn’t call to let him know he was breaking up with the GOP. Maybe he called Rush, Mr Steele? After all, you comprehensively kowtowed when Rush spat the dummy over your comments that he was merely “an entertainer”! Predictably, Michael Steele is now bandying about the GOP talking that with a veto-proof majority, the “checks and balances” of democracy will go out of the window, and we’ll all be card-carrying Bolsheviks by sundown.
Oh, horse shit. The Hill has a long history of Senators and Representatives swapping sides. Or was Joseph Lieberman’s defection too long ago for anyone to remember? Think: Strom Thurmond, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Richard Shelby and Robert Smith. The country didn’t turn into “European style socialism” then either.
According to Andy Barr at the Politico:
“In an interview on Fox News, former White House adviser Karl Rove said that Specter “did this for one reason and one reason only: self-preservation.”
I agree, Arlen would have trouble winning on a GOP ticket, but I believe that’s more to do with the fact that the GOP has debased itself beyond all previous expectations, and they will demand yet more insane party-line voting. At the end of the day, Specter’s 79 years old, and has cancer, so I don’t think this is about his future so much as his conscience.