Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Specter Shocker

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter announced he's switching parties and will now caucus with the Democrats. In 2010, he will run for reelection as a Democrat. Read about it here from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post or New York Times. Here is a timeline of his career.

What does this mean?

Most obvious is the boost to Senate Democratic fortunes. The Caucus will now have 59 members (soon to be 60 whenever Al Franken gets confirmed to the Senate). This means the Democratic majority is nearing filibuster-proof majority status. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans will be virtually devoid of parliamentary tactics to deny the Democratic super-majority.

Less obvious, but more important is why Senator Specter chose to switch. Much less like Vermont Senator Jim Jefford's rejection of the GOP in 2001, Specter is uncomfortable with a party that is far to the right of where it once was.

In his statement, Specter notes, "the Republican Party has moved far to the right." In reality, he joins the 200,000 Pennsylvanians that also switched from registered Republican to registered Democrats during the 2008 election campaign.

This is yet more evidence of how the GOP is an endangered species in the northeast and New England. The Party is geographically isolated because it is ideologically narrow. Until the party broadens its' idea base, its' voter base will continue to shrink.


The Angry Independent said...

Thanks for the 'straight to the point' analysis... I agree wholeheartedly.

The Republican Party is basically the Confederate Party now, relegated to its Southern base... with a few exceptions.

Specter couldn't take it anymore. I believe that it was a calculated decision based in large part on politics... Specter himself seemed to admit to that. But he also talked about the alienation of Republican Moderates and his long deliberation about changing sides. He really nailed it when he rattled off all the times when the Party leaders decided to fund the far right candidates over the more Moderate Republicans based on ideology rather than sound policy...and how the result of that led to losses for Republicans in the General elections for those candidates. Sarah Palin was another example of this, although he didn't mention McCain/Palin specifically.

I wouldn't be surprised now if Joe Lie-berman decided to switch to bring back some sort of balance or as a way for him to be the powerbroker in the Senate. He has threatened to do it before. Lie-berman is concerned about one thing and one thing only... and that's his pro-war agenda when it comes to Israel. So far, he has not had much of a reason to complain... since war is a bipartisan fetish in Washington DC...and so is Israel. As soon as the war agenda is threatened, or something doesn't go his way in Iraq... then he'll likely make some sort of move. He hasn't been pressured to do anything quite yet. But I don't think he can hold his seat as a Republican... the Demographics aren't in Lie-berman's favor... so it looks like the Dems will have their magic number... Although Specter has said his votes won't be automatic.

This gives Obama a nice boost...when he needed one. Things have not been going too well...not in the last week or so. Most of it has been self inflicted. This story definitely took some of the weight off.

rikyrah said...


could you imagine being logical like Specter, and showing that you'd be losing to someone like Toomey?