Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter's Move/Not

Here is the buzz about Sen. Arlen Specter moving from the Republican side of the Senate over to the Democratic side. Some view it as a direct line to 60 votes, once Al Franken is confirmed in Minnesota. Some view it as an indicator of the problems confronting the GOP. There are some who don't see any change at all.

William Rivers Pitt says, "It just doesn't matter!"
"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans," claimed Specter, but that's a lot of hooey; as a Republican, Specter consistently supported several of the most extreme right-wing pieces of legislation ever presented before the Senate.

"While the move would create what is likely to be the Senate's 60th Democratic vote, potentially enough to withstand Republican filibusters," reported The Boston Globe on Wednesday, "it would not necessarily change the chamber's legislative dynamics. Democratic successes at expanding their caucus have made it less unified ideologically, and Specter - one of only three Republicans in Congress to back Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus bill - said he expected to defy his new party as readily as he did his old one." Thus, the idea that Democrats have achieved some lofty threshold of power is almost entirely chimerical; Specter is no more likely to caucus with the Democrats just because he is one than he was likely to caucus with the GOP back when he had an "R" after his last name.

Senators Bayh, McCaskill, Nelson, Lieberman and now Specter represent a core problem within the ranks of the Democratic majority in the Senate. These individuals amount to a cadre of faux-"centrists" who have been, and likely will continue to be, the main line of resistance against Obama's legislative agenda and the improved welfare of the American people. They are the ones most empowered when everyone inaccurately believes the Democrats need 60 votes to pass anything. The annihilation of this fiction will go a long way toward removing these obstacles from the path of progress. Let them vote their consciences, if they have such a thing, without allowing them to hold the entire process hostage.
According to Glenn Greenwald, "The idea that Specter is a "liberal" Republican or even a "moderate" reflects how far to the Right both the GOP and our overall political spectrum has shifted."
Consider Specter’s most significant votes over the last eight years, ones cast in favor of such definitive right-wing measures as: the war on Iraq, the Military Commissions Act, Patriot Act renewal, confirmation of virtually every controversial Bush appointee, retroactive telecom immunity, warrantless eavesdropping expansions, and Bush tax cuts (several times). Time and again during the Bush era, Specter stood with Republicans on the most controversial and consequential issues. [...]

Why would Democrats want a full-blooded Republican representing them in the blue state of Pennsylvania? Specter is highly likely to reprise the Joe Lieberman role for Democrats: a “Democrat” who leads the way in criticizing and blocking Democratic initiatives, forcing the party still further towards Republican policies. [...]

In his Press Conference, Specter just reiterated that he opposes the nomination of one of Obama's few truly excellent nominees: Dawn Johnsen as OLC Chief. What a great Democrat Specter will be. Specter also just detailed how key Democratic officials promised to support him and raise money for him in the 2010 election if he switched, so now Democrats -- Harry Reid and the rest -- are committed to keeping him in power for another 8 years, committed to keeping the Pennsylvania Senate seat in the hands of Arlen Specter.
Specter has always been a sheep in wolves clothing. What's new?

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