Putting the finishing touches on a long career of political expediency with a coup de grace
to the GOP-- Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter
has decided to switch parties and become a Democrat.
Sadly, some will learn the wrong lesson and blame former conservative Congressman Pat Toomey
-- who was planning to "primary" Specter -- for this incident (which is sort of like blaming the police for your speeding ticket). As Ben Domenech notes
, by taking this drastic step, "... Specter admits it is he who is out of step with his electoral base–not just in policy, but in manner–and only a political move this desperate could bring him any chance at the victory he craves."
In fact, Specter's apostasy actually proves
Toomey's point -- that "Benedict Arlen
" was always essentially a Democrat impersonating a Republican.
Moreover, this is not the first time he has warned that the GOP is "too conservative." In 1996, Arlen Specter ran for President and spent the entirety of his short campaign lecturing the GOP about how they were out of touch with the average American. ... Keep in mind, this was just two years after we dramatically stormed to power in Congress under Newt Gingrich, and four years before we took the White House under George W. Bush.
Practically speaking, however, Specter's move could have real consequences. In the short term, if Al Franken
is, in fact, seated, Arlen Specter would give the Democrats the elusive and important 60th vote. Moreover, while Pat Toomey was the odds-on favorite to defeat Specter in a GOP primary, Specter would appear to have the advantage in a general election. As one pro-Specter friend emailed me, "Arguably, this is the most significant achievement of Obama's first hundred days."
Ironically, though, Specter may be giving the GOP a gift. Every GOP candidate running for office in 2010 can now argue that their seat is vital to prevent a filibuster-proof majority, which would allow the Democrats to jam through their radical liberal agenda.
In a final point of irony, I would note that Mr. Specter has been a Democrat before. In fact, he only switched his affiliation to Republican in order to win office. In 1965, at age 35, Specter lost a Democratic primary for District Attorney in Philadelphia -- so he switched to the GOP ticket to win in the general election
. So, it appears that Sen. Specter is finally going home after 44 long years in the wilderness -- and ending his political career exactly as he began it.