Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter shifts: And this is good news because . . . ?

In a move guaranteed to lower the average integrity level of both congressional parties, Sen. Arlen Specter, facing a can of whoop-ass from the hard right in his 2010 re-election campaign, has just announced that he is shifting his affiliation to the Democratic Party.

Moments ago, longtime GOP Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican since 1966, announced he is switching parties and becoming a Democrat!

Senator Specter's bombshell comes on the heels of Democratic Congressman-elect Scott Murphy's come from behind victory in NY-20. It also comes as the ongoing legal battle in Minnesota draws closer to a conclusion that will now make Al Franken the 60th Democratic vote in the U.S. Senate.[...]

In making his announcement that he is now a Democrat, Senator Specter said, "I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing."

If they seriously think this moves them one vote closer to breaking the inevitable filibustering of All Things Obama by the Civil War Re-enactment Society Senate Republicans, the DSSC are kidding themselves. Specter jumping ship has nothing to do with his "political philosophy" and everything to do with his electoral philosophy, i.e., the fact that he faces an ugly and expensive primary challenge from Club for Growth-backed former congressman Pat Toomey.

But his shtick will remain the same:

Step 1. Race to the cameras to express grave concern about Republican proposals or tactics. Grave, grave concern.

Step 2. Vote with the Republicans anyway, and shed a bitter tear.

Specter was and will remain a reliable conservative vote. The only difference between him and the rest of the Senate minority caucus is that he wants to be sure you appreciate how difficult his position is.

Watch how many filibusters Specter helps break in the next 12 months: There'll be one or two votes for show, where the outcome won't be in doubt so he can safely go ahead and vote for cloture, and for that he'll get a lot of the media attention that he loves so much. But there won't be any cloture votes in which his is the deciding vote. None. Zippo. Nada. Not gonna happen.

Worse, Senate Democrats will now feel compelled to waste even more time courting him, as an alleged Democrat, than they did when he was an alleged moderate Republican.

(Hat tip to Doctor Beyond.)


Anonymous said...

I suppose we will now have to talk about the 61 Democratic senators that will be needed for cloture.

Nothstine said...



Chris Andersen said...

You're probably right, but it will depend on whether Pennsylvannia Dems will embrace Arlen with open arms. If he faces a serious challenger in next years primary then you could see Specter flip his position on a lot of issues to be more in line with the Democratic caucus. Specter, by this moves, demonstrates that he is, first and foremost, all about the politics.

However, I suspect Specter is counting on Rendell and Obama to squash any attempt at a serious Democratic challenge. They courted the guy so now they have to clear the field for him.