Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Face?

The news that Arlen Specter has decided to run as a Democrat during the next election was, at first blush, rather a stunner. The Pennsylvania senator was quite candid in his remarks, however, admitting that one of the major reasons for his party switch was that he would be in the fight of his life during the GOP primary and might very well lose to a very conservative candidate. So he cut a deal with the Democratic leadership, and while the details of that deal have not been officially announced, enough of the details have emerged to conclude the deal looks remarkably like the one offered "Independent" Joe Lieberman to keep him in the Democratic caucus after he was beaten by a true liberal in Connecticut for the Democratic nomination in 2006.

Still, a lot of party loyalists are cooing and crowing over the move, suggesting that once Al Franken is finally seated as the Senator from Minnesota, the Democrats will finally have that magical 60 seat number in the Senate, enough to stop any GOP filibuster. Doyle McManus, columnist for the Los Angeles Times isn't quite so sure that the Democrats should be celebrating just yet. He also notes the high cost of the defection to the Democrats.

Obama and the Democrats, to win Specter over, offered him an amazingly good deal. The president promised to support him in Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary next year. (Presidents don't normally intervene in primary contests -- at least, not so openly.) Gov. Ed Rendell, the most popular Democrat in Pennsylvania, promised to help too. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada allowed Specter to keep the 28 years of seniority he has amassed as a Republican -- meaning he'll replace some unlucky Democrat of longer standing as chairman of a major committee.

So, not only will Sen. Specter emerge with greater power as head of a major committee (the Senate Appropriations Committee?), thereby kicking a more loyal Democrat to the curb, he also will have the support of key Democrats during the election campaign, thereby dashing the hopes of any liberal running for the seat. Remind you of Connecticut, 2006?

And just what will the Democrats be getting for their generosity? According to McManus, not as much as they think.

...60 seats can be a mixed blessing. With 60 seats, the Democrats will have no excuses, no one else to blame, any time they can't hold their big caucus together. Their most independent, unpredictable members will enjoy massive power -- not just Specter but also Lieberman and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, another centrist. [Emphasis added]

I dispute the designation of either Nelson or Lieberman as centrists. Both are a bit to the right of center on most major issues. What is more important, however, is the shift of power to all three men who will now have the leverage to get what they want when they want it every time a vote is called. None of them are really mavericks, just men who like being senators will all the perqs that involves.

And it's not like Sen. Specter has been sympathetic to the Democratic agenda all along. According to Congressional Quarterly, his record shows otherwise. As a Republican, his record at the end of 2008 shows a Party Unity score of 62%. In other words, he voted with Republicans nearly two-thirds of the time. Is that now going to change? I somehow doubt it.

So, the leadership of the Democratic party has decided to bank on Sen. Specter for that elusive 60th vote by offering him the moon and shutting out other Democrats, both now and during the 2010 election.

Interesting strategy, that. Interesting and absolutely nuts.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Specter demonstrated the flaw in the Dim strategy yesterday when he joined the rest of the DINO/BlueDawgs in voting against the so-called "cram-down" legislation.

On what part of the Obama agenda does anyone think Specter provides a vital vote?

It won't be on anything that even pretends to leveling the playing field between individuals and the CorpoRat bosses and the Owners...

He'll be right there, though, when Obama, Geithner, and Summers try to drain the SS trust. But he'd have been there for 'em on that if he never switched...

I took note of this on my own the other day.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Sherry Reson said...

Glad to have found your blog, courtesy of Sideshow. Keep on making sense of things; we need all the help we can get.

10:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home