Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How underwhelming

You mean a lifelong politician is making a move to protect his own self-interest? Big deal.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.
Do you think this had anything to do with his decision?

Specter as a Democrat would also fundamentally alter the 2010 calculus in Pennsylvania as he was expected to face a difficult primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey. The only announced Democrat in the race is former National Constitution Center head Joe Torsella although several other candidates are looking at the race.
Arlen realizes that he can't beat Toomey in the GOP primary and that a Republican can't win the general election. So he did what he had to do to get re-elected, just like he's been doing for decades. Those of us who remember Specter's chameleon act in 2004 -- Specter went from running TV ads during the primary (when he barely beat Toomey) in which he bragged about his loyalty to George Bush (and was shown walking alongside Bush) to spotlighting the instances when he voted against Bush policies during the general election -- are not suprised by this move. Specter explains the switch by saying all the standard stuff about "political philosophy," but this is really about only one principle: that it's better to win re-election than to lose.

If Specter really feels that his "political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," as he says, then that should be reflected in the way he votes. Let's wait and see. Given that Specter has already said that he hasn't changed his "thinking" on the Employee Free Choice Act, I'm not optimistic that we're going to see much of a change in Specter. And if that turns out to be the case, his switching parties is nothing more than an opportunist seizing opportunity.

UPDATE: The change in Specter is pretty dramatic so far. I wonder how much longer Republicans will be able to feign anger over the "defection" without laughing.

UPDATE 2: Specter's first vote as a "Democrat." It's uncanny how much his "political philosophy" is "more in line with Democrats than Republicans."



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