Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Specter's Defection Means

Here's Fred Barnes on the significance of Arlen Specter's defection to the Democratic Party:

My one rule of politics is that the future is never a straight line projection of the present. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's unexpected decision to switch parties and run for re-election in 2010 as a Democrat proves the rule. Mr. Specter often votes for liberal Democratic initiatives and infuriates conservative Republicans. Still, his surprise defection was a crushing setback for the GOP, instantly reducing what limited power Republicans have in the Senate. The GOP's ability to stop liberal legislation is now weakened if not eliminated in some instances.

Mr. Specter's jump across the aisle significantly adds to the heavy Republican burden in Senate races next year. True, the political climate then may be more favorable for Republican gains; the economy probably won't be booming and the president's popularity won't be sky-high. But there's a problem: the map.

The states with Senate races in 2010 do not favor Republicans. They must defend 19 seats, six in states won handily by Barack Obama. In three -- New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio -- Democrats also have a built-in, blue-state edge. Indeed it was the strong Democratic advantage in Pennsylvania that prompted Mr. Specter's switch. In two other states -- Florida and North Carolina -- Republican chances are no better than fair. Only in Iowa, with incumbent Chuck Grassley a shoo-in for re-election, are Republicans assured of holding on in Obamaland.

Losing one or two or three Senate seats on the heels of Mr. Specter's departure would be devastating for Republicans. Already his defection has robbed them of their most reliable weapon in blocking President Obama's liberal proposals. If the 60 Democrats (counting Mr. Specter and Al Franken) stick together, they can keep Republicans from getting the 41 votes for a successful filibuster.
Read the whole thing at the link.

Related: Loads of analysis on Specter at Memeorandum.

Photo Credit:
Midnight Blue.


Sarge Charlie said...

One less RINO, the plan to give us health care using "budget reconciliation" to short circuit the debate makes spector useless anyway, this may improve the GOP.

Trish said...

FYI To those who don't know:

Between serving on the Warren Commission and becoming a senator, Specter was twice elected district attorney in Philadelphia, where he earned a tough-on-crime reputation. His most famous case, however, came in 1979, when he was in private practice and thinking about running for the Senate. A man named Ira Einhorn, better known as the "Unicorn," had been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend; she had been missing for a year and a half when police found her mummified corpse squeezed into a trunk hidden in Einhorn's closet.

Einhorn was a celebrated leftist and is credited with helping found Earth Day. He also had strong ties to Philadelphia elites — a group of people Specter was cultivating for his prospective Senate campaign when he agreed to become Einhorn's lawyer.

At an arraignment, the government demanded a $100,000 bail for Einhorn. Before Judge William Marutani, Specter called this "excessively excessive" and insisted on a reduced figure. Marutani wondered if Einhorn might "split for parts unknown." He mentioned Norway as a possible destination. "I have to disagree with your last statement," replied Specter. "Anybody is as likely to go to Norway as anybody else." Through the future senator's efforts, Einhorn's bail was dropped to $40,000. The accused man only had to put out ten percent of it in cash to secure his release.

As things turned out, Specter was proven correct: Einhorn didn't flee for Norway. He went to Sweden instead, slipping out of the United States shortly before his murder trial was scheduled to begin. Einhorn remained a fugitive until 1997, when police found him living in France under a phony name with his Swedish wife. He was eventually extradited to the United States. In 2002, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Specter, who quit the case soon after the bail hearing and rarely has spoken about it since, says he has no regrets about representing Einhorn or demanding the reduced bail. "If I had been D.A., I would have had him detained — there would have been no bail at all," he told me in an interview last year.

But by 1979, the tough-on-crime prosecutor had become a tough-on-prosecutor criminal defender. Perhaps he was just doing his job. It must be remembered, however, that his job, for which he volunteered possibly to curry favor with potential political supporters, involved reducing bail for a murderer who fled from justice.


Dennis said...

I am not sure it means a thing politically speaking. Specter is still going to be Specter and I suspect the dems are not going to be to particularly happy with him either.
Specter knows that he does not stand a chance against Toomey, and running as an Independent doesn't gain him a thing. Running as a democrat does gain him some support he might not have been able to tap into, though I suspect that the democrats in PA are going to have little trust in him and will go for a democrat that they can trust.
It depends on what happens between now and the next election.

cracker said...

My prediction

As went Specter, so go's the GOP

to the middle, why?.... its called job security fellas....the GOP risks becoming as popular and recognized.... as Ralph Nader and his supporters.

GOP stays out of Big Tent now co-opted by Democrats....

or it abandons all ties to all things "Neo, Right, Evangelical or exclusionary of any US citizens legal lifestyle,

the neo-con (new-conservative) experiment....will be put on a shelf and marked "caution, union de-stabilizer, use only as example"

Am I wrong here?

Rich Casebolt said...

Yes, cracker, you're wrong.

The basis for the assertive foreign policy of neoconservatism ... that the rights-respecting governance we enjoy fosters peace in the world, when others implement it in their own nations -- and conversely, the threats to peace in the world come from those who are imposing "alternatives" to rights-respecting governance in their nations ... has been validated again and again by history -- from post-WWII Europe to the Pacific Rim to the Middle East -- even before the term "neocon" became the epithet it is today.

All the rhetorical bluster of those who seek to discredit it, because to do so inflates the value of their own flawed worldviews, doesn't change that reality ... all it does is deny others the peace and prosperity rights-respecting governance brings, and puts already rights-respecting nations at risk to life, limb and property.

The world simply does not fit the Utopian model of universal rationality promoted by the Leftist ... and it is simply too small and too interconnected for the Paul/Buchanan isolationist models to still be valid.

Much has been said about how we should listen to the world ... but the same history that validates the neoconservative worldview indicates to me that it is the world that should be listening to us ... for if they wish to attain our power and prosperity, they need to do so the way we did -- by implementing rights-respecting governance in their own nations.

Once they do that, they have no reason to envy or fear us ... for they will attain prosperity as we have, and will cease to be a threat in any way, shape, or form to America.

But instead, so many are steeped in the conventional wisdom of the last century ... that we should treat all forms of governance with the same deference, as though they are morally equivalent, in the name of a facade of "peace" ... and believe that the way up is to bring our nation down to their level ...

... or, exploit our prosperity, peace, and compassion as an escape valve to relieve the pressure their own dysfunction has brought against them ... by passively standing by in said dysfunction, as their people leave their national wealth to the dysfunctional and come here by any means they can. That is NOT being a good neighbor ... Mexico, are you listening?

As for evangelicals, as I have stated in the past, we are the first line of defense against theocracy ... for we ourselves do not stand for it, even among our own de facto leaders.

The Big Tent you cite -- which is fed by the relativistic moral equivalence that became last century's conventional wisdom -- is the kind of consensus that lemmings exhibit ... and will lead to the same end.

Sound principles are absolute ... all the flowery rhetoric, political maneuvering, and even popular support in the world won't override them.

Violate them, and we will crash ... no matter what the polls say.