Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When a marriage of convenience stops being convenient

I never expected much of Arlen Specter as a Democrat, although in fairness he hasn't been as quickly or deeply treacherous after switching parties as I expected him to be.

A strong primary challenger from within your adopted party does concentrate the mind wonderfully.

And yet . . . and yet . . . and yet. Here's a story that Specter, a.k.a. Don Altobello, a.k.a. the plumed cave warbler, probably wishes he hadn't served up:

For three decades, Specter prided himself on being a coalition builder, relishing a self-appointed role as a liaison striving to find the moderate solutions to liberal and conservative extremes.

Now as a Democrat, that role has vanished. For that reason alone, Specter has questioned his storied party switch.

"Well, I probably shouldn't say this," he said over lunch last month. "But I have thought from time to time that I might have helped the country more if I'd stayed a Republican."

Kinsley's Law of Gaffes: It's not a gaffe when a politician accidentally says something that isn't true; it's a gaffe when he accidentally says something that is true.

(Will Bunch reduces Specter's poor-me-ism to rubble in about a paragraph, calling it a fantastical rewrite of history on many levels--and he's probably just being nice because he has the bad luck to have Specter for his senator.)

The reality is, as a Democrat, Specter gets far fewer invitations to play Hamlet in front of the TV news camera, and far fewer presidential muffin baskets from the White House. Watching the Blue Dogs get all that face time in the media during the health care reform battle last year, while he sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, it's not surprising he's been reconsidering his choices.

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