Been There, Done That

Once you get over the patchouli smell and get used to all the barefoot hippies, it isn’t so bad:

Specter’s decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota. (Former Sen. Norm Coleman is appealing Franken’s victory in the state Supreme Court.)

“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary,” said Specter in a statement. “I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.”

He added: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

I’m still waiting on my Soros check and forty virgins, so don’t get too excited, Arlen. Oh, and by the way, wingnuts- how is that Republican purity treating you? Is the GOP small enough to drown in a bathtub yet? Going to love hearing how a loyal foot soldier for three decades in the GOP wasn’t “conservative enough.”

And on a serious note, I think this is how party switching should be done. At the end of the term and then run on the ticket with your new party, not right after an election. Additionally, the weirdest thing about being a Democrat is I don’t feel any different than I did when I was a Republican, other than that I no longer have to make excuses for crazy and stupid people.

(via the Great Orange Satan)






272 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ says:

    Great, another Blue Dog, just what we need.

  2. 2
    Jon H says:

    So, what’s the plan – Toomey takes the GOP nom, Specter takes the Dem nom, then Toomey walks over Specter, handing the seat to a wingnut?

    With so much lead time, lots of Republicans can if necessary change their registration to vote for Specter in the Dem primary, setting up a Toomey vs. Specter election that Specter will lose.

  3. 3
    PhillyCPA says:

    I’m just going to hold my breath over here until he reverses his position on EFCA…holding…holdin….hold…*thump*

  4. 4
    r€nato says:

    Thanks, Club for Growth! You’re the best friend a Democrat could have!

  5. 5
    John Cole says:

    All the bitching about blue dogs kind of reminds me of the Republican purity tests. Here are your choices:

    The majority with a big tent party and blue dogs in more conservative districts.

    The minority.

    Which one do you think will get you a more “progressive” agenda through Congress?

    Yes, it is irritating to listen to all the moral preening and the like from Evan Bayh and others, I can honestly say there have been times when I thought Harold Ford was actively working to give me a heart attack, but the way things are, you either deal with the blue dogs or you stay in the minority.

  6. 6
    zzyzx says:

    Toomey takes the GOP nom, Specter takes the Dem nom, then Toomey walks over Specter, handing the seat to a wingnut?

    Except that in the general election, Democrats get to vote too, which changes those polling numbers quite a bit.

  7. 7
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    This is all about avoiding a primary challenge. Unless he’s going to vote for Employee Free Choice (he isn’t) or Obama’s health care plan (possible but I wouldn’t count on it) what good does this do the current Administration? It’s the equivalent of handing the Prez an empty box for his birthday.

  8. 8
    erlking says:

    Toomey won’t win against Specter in the general.

  9. 9
    b-psycho says:

    It’d be funny as hell if Specter lost that primary & the Dem candidate then crushed Toomey.

  10. 10

    Great, another Blue Dog, just what we need.

    If he’s willing to vote for cloture on key bills, he can be as Blue Dog as he wants to when it comes to the up-or-down votes, AFAIAC.

    I think this is how party switching should be done. At the end of the term and then run on the ticket with your new party, not right after an election.

    Me too. Otherwise, a party-switcher should at least have the guts to resign your seat effective at the end of the next even-numbered year, so they can have a reasonably prompt election to replace him.

  11. 11
    jnfr says:

    Toomey doesn’t have a chance to win in any polling I’ve seen.

    Is the GOP small enough to drown in a bathtub yet?

    That’s perfect.

  12. 12
    Tim C. says:

    Toomey won’t walk over Specter in that scenario, Toomey is a full wack-a-ding-hoy, right of Atilla the Hun, Santourum-class wingnut. He’s only viable in the GOP primary and nowhere else. Should Specter get the nomination from Democrats, and should he do the logical reverse I expect on EFCA, he’ll win the general election easily. He might even be a bit better than Lieberman now as far as votes, time will tell.

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    All the bitching about blue dogs kind of reminds me of the Republican purity tests.

    Don’t blame me, blame WordPress for not supporting the tags that indicate that a commenter is channeling Chris Bowers.

  14. 14
    schrodinger's cat says:

    At this rate the Republican party is going to become extinct.

  15. 15
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    So, what’s the plan – Toomey takes the GOP nom, Specter takes the Dem nom, then Toomey walks over Specter, handing the seat to a wingnut

    Specter’s hoping for a rerun of Lieberman’s victory over Ned Lamont. He fears losing a Republican primary but he hopes the Democratic and independent vote in the general will put him over the top.

  16. 16
    r€nato says:

    @John Cole:

    I’m with you John. I can even tolerate the execrable Joe Lieberman somewhat, now that Iraq is not the issue it was 2 years ago and he doesn’t have Bush’s salad to toss any longer. Other than Israel/military issues, Joe’s been mostly pro-choice and is generally a moderate/progressive.

  17. 17
    cleek says:

    er… wow.

    so that’s gonna change the whole filibuster dynamic… as soon as Franken gets seated.

    even though Specter says:

    My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

  18. 18
    zzyzx says:

    Best reply is on Red State in which the only thing better than having 40 Senate seats is having 38! It’s easy to be pure if you have so little power that you don’t have to worry about consequences. If the Republicans want to be a heckling society that mocks us as we do work, that’s fine with me.

  19. 19
    OniHanzo says:

    @DougJ:

    It’s getting to the point where the Blue Dogs are the only oppositional political group of substance vs. liberal Dems.

    Which, as point of fact, I find fucking hysterical.

    America being a center-right country and all.

    *falls out of chair, laughing*

  20. 20
    LD50 says:

    So, what’s the plan – Toomey takes the GOP nom, Specter takes the Dem nom, then Toomey walks over Specter, handing the seat to a wingnut?

    No. Obama won PA by 11% — Specter’s got a good shot at winning the general. Dems like Specter more than GOPers. And now Specter doesn’t have to say crazy things on the campaign trail all 2010.

    Specter saw that his only political hope was switching teams, and he’s right. While we DFH’s probably would have been better off with a different Dem in that seat, being one step closer to 60 in the Senate is nice as hell.

  21. 21
    Apsaras says:

    It’s certainly good news, but I’m more curious about what this party switch will entail other than Arlen attending a different set of parties this year. Has he flipped on EFCA?

    edit: Ok, I read in his statement that his stance on EFCA “will not change”?

    Like, you mean change AGAIN Arlen, or change back?

  22. 22
    Evinfuilt says:

    I like to think the Dems already have enough parties in them to not need to worry about Republicans, with this addition I’m 100% sure there’s more constructive criticism in the Dem party than they’ll ever get from the republicans.

  23. 23
    Mudge says:

    I suspect he’ll be more like Casey than Nelson. Leopards don’t change their spots, however, he’ll no longer be browbeaten by McConnell. The intriguing aspect for me is whether he’ll vote for cloture on issues on which he will eventually vote “no”. Pennsylvania is not conservative enough to elect Toomey. If he plays his cards right, Specter will have Rendell, Casey and the Philadelphia machine ( he used to be DA in Philly) in his corner. That carries most elections. Very few Democrats, when given the choice of Toomey and Specter, will choose Toomey.

  24. 24
    Napoleon says:

    never mind!

  25. 25
    BenA says:

    @Jon H:
    Uhh there’s no way Toomey wins in PA at large. He can’t even hold a house seat in PA. He’s so far to the right of most of the electorate in PA and he’s bat-shit crazy to boot.

  26. 26
    JK says:

    Statement by Sen. Arlen Specter on changing parties
    http://hotlineoncall.nationalj.....ith_de.php

    I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.
    Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. 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.

    Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

    I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

    I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

    I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank specially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

    I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

    I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

    While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

    My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

    Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

  27. 27
    gbear says:

    This was my favorite part of his statement. Screw you, 28%ers, I’m going with the reasonable folks now.

    It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

    I wouldn’t want to be Tim Pawlenty now.

  28. 28
    DougJ says:

    Specter should beat Toomey by about 15 points in a general election, maybe more. There’s a 16 point Dem rej advantage, which usually translates into about a 10 or 11 point win for a Dem. Plus Specter will do better with indies.

  29. 29
    Tim F. says:

    I don’t feel any different than I did when I was a Republican, other than that I no longer have to make excuses for crazy and stupid people.

    Let’s not get carried away, John. You never made excuses for the craziest and stupidest Republicans. Also, god knows, Democrats could shed a few loons.

  30. 30
    guster says:

    I don’t understand. Is having 60 votes related in any way to the filibuster if you aren’t confident that all 60 will vote the same way? Is there a single reason to think that 60 Dem Senators would all vote the same way?

    Honestly baffled. What am I missing?

  31. 31
    LD50 says:

    It’d be nice if Susan Collins could be persuaded to do this, tho from what I gather, she and Snowe effortlessly get re-elected every 6 years, no matter how blue Maine is.

  32. 32
    rob says:

    Once you get over the patchouli smell and get used to all the barefoot hippies, it isn’t so bad:

    this is why I luv you John!

  33. 33
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Has he flipped on EFCA?

    No, he hasn’t.

    For those who cite Specter’s value being his vote for cloture on upcoming key bills — what key bills would those be? And if he’s not going to vote for those key bills, then what’s the point?

  34. 34
    SGEW says:

    This
    Is
    Awesome

  35. 35
    PeakVT says:

    I guess it’s a slight plus.

    Is he going to jump over less senior Dems in the committees? That would be a bit much without some guaranteed votes on certain bills. Or at least guaranteed votes for cloture (which effectively means passage.)

  36. 36
    LD50 says:

    This is also amazing as a reminder of how severely the GOP has turned to shit north of the Mason-Dixon line.

  37. 37
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Yes, it is irritating to listen to all the moral preening and the like from Evan Bayh and others

    I’d rather deal with a human marshmallow like Evan Bayh than your normal ‘rock ribbed’ conservative anyday of the week. The thing with the Blue Dogs, in the Senate anyway, is that for the most part they are all talk. In a close vote, the blue dog dems will fall in line 99.9% of the time. The only reason Bayh voted down the budget was because he knew what the numbers were, and Evan Bayh will do anything he can to put himself in front of the camera. What I think is hilarious about Bayh is that he thinks he can run for POTUS and win. Your garden variety GOPer would eat him alive. I’ve lived in or around Indiana for the past ten years and have kept a eye on the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. He has never had a tough fight in his entire career. His dad, Sen. Birch Bayh, was in Congress for a while, which makes Marshie a legacy in his state. If he ever had to run outside of Indiana, he’d be nothing.

  38. 38
    RWB says:

    Oh, we have our crazies, too. They just don’t run the party the way the Republican crazies run the Republican Party.

  39. 39
    BenA says:

    @guster:
    That’s the silly part of the whole 60 vote deal. But it does make a republican lead filibuster that much more unlikely.

  40. 40
    Paul L. says:

    I no longer have to make excuses for crazy and stupid people.

    Like Bill Ayers?
    You are welcome to Ira Einhorn’s former lawyer.

  41. 41
    JK says:

    H/T to Dick Polman at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/

    Specter (D-Survivor)

  42. 42
    Tim C. says:

    Oh, and under the “Bitch-Slap” theory of politics, this is a very very good day.

  43. 43
    Beauzeaux says:

    I’m not sure this will really help the Democrats that much, but it does give one the impression that a sinking ship is being deserted. And I can only applaud that.

  44. 44
    Rick Taylor says:

    Oh, and by the way, wingnuts- how is that Republican purity treating you? Is the GOP small enough to drown in a bathtub yet? Going to love hearing how a loyal foot soldier for three decades in the GOP wasn’t “conservative enough.”

    I expect they’ll be perfectly happy with this. Specter joining the Democratic part will just prove to them they were right then they said he was Rhino.

  45. 45
    DougJ says:

    Oh, we have our crazies, too. They just don’t run the party the way the Republican crazies run the Republican Party.

    Bingo.

  46. 46
    Punchy says:

    I see the spectre of Spector as mostly a spectator.

  47. 47
    LD50 says:

    Like Bill Ayers?

    Check your calendar, Paul. You lost. No one gives a fuck about Ayers OR Acorn. Repeating those words all year won’t change a thing.

  48. 48
    demimondian says:

    @OniHanzo: You laugh — but that’s exactly what is happening.

    Within an election cycle or so, in fact, I expect to see a second reassortment taking Dems to Republicans, in fact. I won’t even be terribly surprised if either Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh moves right now — although each of them is left of the current Republican party, either one would certainly be *the* leading candidate for President in 2012 if he changed the label after his his name.

  49. 49
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Paul L.:
    Yeah, it seems that hardly a day passes that some prominent Democrat doesn’t quote Bill Ayers. I guess that his influence is so pervasive that it doesn’t need stating.

  50. 50
    fester says:

    Reiterating what all the other Pennsylvania commenters are saying — in a general election Specter beats the shit out of Toomey. He only loses to Toomey in a closed GOP primary as the GOP primary electorate thinks Santorum was becoming too liberal in 2006. Specter won’t get my time or my donations in this cycle (hell most of my money is going to diapers right now) but he’ll get a cleared Dem primary field, basic union support (not too extensive) and clean up big in the Philly and Pittsburgh city limits as well as on the pro-choice Philly burbs — all you need to do to win big in the state.

  51. 51
    mt says:

    It’s not official until Mark Halperin announces Specter’s switch is good news for the Republican party.

  52. 52
    NonyNony says:

    @guster:

    I don’t understand. Is having 60 votes related in any way to the filibuster if you aren’t confident that all 60 will vote the same way? Is there a single reason to think that 60 Dem Senators would all vote the same way?Honestly baffled. What am I missing?

    You’re not missing anything – 60 votes would be a notable event if it were 60 REPUBLICANS in the majority. Because Republican pols these days really do tend to vote in lock-step with each other.

    OTOH – what it DOES mean is that on most issues you no longer have to try to sway a few moderate Republicans to break with their party leadership and vote for cloture when the GOPers are determined to have a lock-step vote. You bargain with your own folks to get what they want and get all of them on board.

  53. 53
    ksmiami says:

    Maybe the country is just better off with different Democratic factions determining the course of action in a rational way. I mean it is well past the point where the Republicans are a thinking, rational, group and so the sooner they are trounced, the better. I would rather have balance in the one viable party than have to cater to a bunch of flat earth loons who think creationism is a valid science and global warming is a hoax, but give us the tamiflu NOW.

    John – I made the switch in 1992 and even despite Clinton’s minor human foibles, being a Democrat is pretty cool and we aren’t so hung up on sex and god and stuff. My only complaint is that a lot of my friends are in marriages with 2-3 different last names.

    Cheers

  54. 54
    gwangung says:

    Like Bill Ayers?

    Supported by leftists Orin Hatch and the Annenbergs?

    Idiot.

  55. 55
    RandyH says:

    I have been hoping for months that he would do this. Now that Toomey has declared his candidacy and the Republicans have “purified” themselves down to 21% of the electorate, he knows he has no other choice if he wants to stay in office.

    Now he is the 60th Democrat in the Senate. He’d better stay loyal.

  56. 56
    demimondian says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe: EFCA is an interesting case — as a Dem, he can negotiate for a small compromise and come across for cloture. He couldn’t do that as a Republican.

    Watch Snowe now. The pressure she’ll feel to jump will be nigh irresistable. I don’t think Collins will jump, although she might, but the senior senator has got to be feeling a lot of heat.

  57. 57
    tavella says:

    He’ll be a Blue Dog, sure, but the difference is now he’s going to be looking to suck up to Democrats in his state to cut off anyone running against him, instead of having his arm twisted to move right by McConnell and the Club for Growth. The environmental pressure will move him left.

    I suspect he’ll be fairly reliable on cloture, despite his words. Though no doubt annoyingly Blue Doggish in others.

  58. 58
    LD50 says:

    It’s not official until Mark Halperin announces Specter’s switch is good news for the Republican party.

    Not to get carried away, but this is how realignments happen.

  59. 59
    OniHanzo says:

    Oh and to all wingnuts who tittered and giggled over Lieberman turning on Democrats…. this your due, bitches.

    Shame it didn’t come sooner.

  60. 60
    r€nato says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    Speaking just for myself, the first thing I do every morning upon wakening is to find out what Ward Churchill has to say about the events of the day, so that I can know what I should be thinking and saying about them.

  61. 61
    Keith G says:

    Welcome, Welcome. All are welcome.

    Anything to make McConnell, Kyle, and Cornyn even more irritable.

  62. 62
    omen says:

    another thing, specter has self identified to being pro-choice.

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOL.....index.html

    it’s a wonder he wasn’t run out of the republidickulous! party sooner.

  63. 63
    aimai says:

    Shawn in Showme is 100 percent correct:

    Shawn in ShowMe
    [Imagine that I blockquoted this sucessfully]
    This is all about avoiding a primary challenge. Unless he’s going to vote for Employee Free Choice (he isn’t) or Obama’s health care plan (possible but I wouldn’t count on it) what good does this do the current Administration? It’s the equivalent of handing the Prez an empty box for his birthday.

    This has absolutely nothing certain to do with the imaginary 60 votes needed for cloture. A) Specter is not even changing his party affiliation yet. B) he is not saying he’s had a change of heart and wants to pursue democratic or progressive initiatives, he’s just had an ugly split from his old boyfriends in the state (the “schism”) and he is going out on a spite date with their biggest rival on the swim team. C) His refusal to support the Dems, the Unions, and the President on EFCA is a huge fuck you to the progressive democratic voters in PA and the fact that he is making it two years in advance of his run on their ticket is beyond insulting. He has totally bought into the notion that the Senator’s role is to do whatever he damn well pleases and fuck the voters. I hope the unions bust his political glasses for him and find an agressive democratic primary opponent for him.

    aimai

  64. 64
    joes527 says:

    Would a country where the two major parties were Democratic and Blue Dog be less insane than what we have now, or would that just be different names for the same flavors of crazy?

    Yeah I know … never going to happen.

  65. 65
    Andrew says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but I get an email from Bill Ayers every morning, outlining my orders for the day.

    Today they included:
    1) Drink coffee.
    2) Walk dog.
    3) Subvert American Exceptionalism by installing Godless Islamofacist dictatorship.
    4) Read newspaper.

  66. 66
    Joel says:

    @John Cole: Word.

    I like Specter. Glad to have him on our side.

    Harold Ford is just a prick. He’d be a prick even if his politics were aligned with Barney Frank’s.

  67. 67
    OniHanzo says:

    @demimondian:

    I won’t even be terribly surprised if either Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh moves right now

    And what do you think that would gain him, long term or short term?

  68. 68
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I won’t even be terribly surprised if either Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh moves right now—although each of them is left of the current Republican party, either one would certainly be the leading candidate for President in 2012 if he changed the label after his his name.

    I don’t know, I don’t think they are crazy enough for the greater wingnuttia, may be John can correct me if I am wrong.

  69. 69
    Punchy says:

    I haves mah feelingz that there’ll be a LOT LOT LOT of pressure on the Minny Govz not to sign that election certy, no matter what protocol says.

  70. 70
    Poopyman says:

    Shawn@33:

    And if he’s not going to vote for those key bills, then what’s the point?

    The only point is that he gets to avoid the Republican primary, which polling indicates he would lose – bigtime.

    I don’t see any upside for the Dem caucus. Same old same old, as I see it. What’s the upside for us, indeed?

  71. 71
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @demimondian

    Within an election cycle or so, in fact, I expect to see a second reassortment taking Dems to Republicans, in fact. I won’t even be terribly surprised if either Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh moves right now

    Not. Going. To. Happen. No Blue Dog would survive a GOP primary. Maybe in about 10 years, maybe, but right now, no freakin’ way. They aren’t ‘conservative’ (i.e. bat-shit crazy) enough for the GOP base. Remember, all Democrats are evil ‘libruls’ to the nutjob base.

    Senators Snowe and Collins, your table is ready.

  72. 72
    Ash Can says:

    Like Bill Ayers?

    Because God knows Bill Ayers is running the fucking DNC.

  73. 73
    UnkyT says:

    Wahoo! We finally have the power of the sternly worded letter on our side. Look out evil doers!

  74. 74
    Joel says:

    By the way, this never happens if Obama didn’t offer Lieberman the olive branch. How’s that decision looking now?

  75. 75
    Aaron says:

    He was sunk for the Republican primary the second he supported something our (black) president has done.

    As an aside, I put the term ‘black” in parentheses for the following reason. Living in Central Pennsylvania, we have a bit of a race issue here, although it is a quiet one. Anyway, after returning from a volleyball game this weekend, my neighbor suggested to me that that Steelers ought to start selecting more white players in the NFL draft. I just found this to be interesting

    Anyway, back to the point at hand. Specter is certainly a better prospect than Toomey. Expecting him to vote in lockstep with the democratic party is republican-brand crazy, but free of the ideological conformity the current crop of republicans demand should be good for Specter and the state of PA

  76. 76
    demimondian says:

    @OniHanzo: The presidency, possibly. You don’t establish yourself as a party leader when the position is solidly occupied; you establish yourself when there’s a vacuum. (See Clinton, W.J. for a clear example.)

  77. 77
    El Cid says:

    I enthusiastically support the Republican Party’s work in becoming a more pure representation of its highly disciplined, and highly Southern, base. As a Democrat, I mean.

  78. 78
    disappointedGOPer says:

    @Paul L.:

    Weak sauce, son.

  79. 79
    LD50 says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but I get an email from Bill Ayers every morning, outlining my orders for the day.

    I once got into an online argument with a wingnut who assumed that I had read and ascribed to all Foucault’s ideas. When he found out that all I knew about Foucault was that be was bald, gay, French, and dead, he got extremely cross.

  80. 80
    Napoleon says:

    @aimai:

    Specter is not even changing his party affiliation yet.

    Committee assignments are basically set in stone, so what he calls himself now is irrelevent.

  81. 81
    BobJ says:

    This switch is transparently driven purely by Specter’s desire to remain a Senator. Seriously, the freak out about the stimulus happened a couple months ago, no? And Specter is just NOW noticing the craziness in the Republican party about it? This is all about the fact that he could see the writing on the wall with Toomey and was desparate to retain his seat.

    Why would the Democrats agree to clear the field for this clown? What good has he ever done for anyone or any progressive/democratic cause? He talks a good game sometimes, but when the chips are down he has never backed his words up with action.

    Of course, it wouldn’t be the Democratic party if we weren’t doing horrendously stupid things like foregoing the possibility of any actual progressive being elected in PA instead of six more years of Arlen Specter.

  82. 82
    Punchy says:

    Also, god knows, Democrats could shed a few loons.

    /clicks to DKos, reads 95% of the current diaries, nods head in agreement

  83. 83
    JL says:

    Specter had nothing to lose by switching parties. One news channel is saying that he will run unopposed in the dem party. I’m not sure that is true but he has the commitment of Reid that the dems will support him.
    What’s to stop Specter to switch back after the election.

  84. 84
    Poopyman says:

    I haves mah feelingz that there’ll be a LOT LOT LOT of pressure on the Minny Govz not to sign that election certy, no matter what protocol says.

    How much pressure can a deflating party exert, anyways?

    They’ve got no money coming in for campaigns, so Timmeh knows he can’t count on the RNC for any. He’s on his own, and he knows it. He also knows that Minnesotans want their Senator seated now.

    I’m thinkin’ that once the supremes gets done the cert will get signed without any fuss.

  85. 85
    SGEW says:

    Like Bill Ayers?

    Aha! The perfect case of a “mootbat“! QED, baby.

  86. 86
    omen says:

    @aimai:

    or Obama’s health care plan (possible but I wouldn’t count on it)

    i don’t known about his union stance (and who knows, maybe that’ll evolve) but his contribution to the stimulus looks like good indiction he’ll support healthcare.

    As part of the stimulus, Specter supported:
    an amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resulted in the infusion of an additional $10.4 billion to support the work of the National Institutes of Health, including the National Cancer Institute.

    plus he supports renewable energy and tackling climate change.

    i hold personal animus against him for his mistreatment of anita hill. but if he can help pass these 2 major initiatives on energy and healthcare, i’ll give him a pass for that.

  87. 87
    JK says:

    Best headline pun so far

    Arlen ExSPECTorates
    http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/tr.....rates.html

  88. 88
    aimai says:

    I thought demimondian meant that Bayh and Nelson might switch to *being democrats.* Well, a pseudonymous poster can dream.

    aimai

  89. 89

    @RWB:

    Oh, we have our crazies, too. They just don’t run the party the way the Republican crazies run the Republican Party.

    And they are pissed about it.

  90. 90
    Adrienne says:

    Living in Central Pennsylvania, we have a bit of a race issue here, although it is a quiet one.

    Quiet? LMAO. I grew up in Central PA (boarding school) and as a black female, I can assure you that it is/was anything BUT quiet.

    However, Obama won PA by 11% so it’s getting a little better. I’m still trying to figure out how Specter thinks he’s going to win a Dem primary in PA with labor actively working against him… He’s gonna have to return to his original position on EFCA, and quickly to have any chance in hell. PA likes their unions.

  91. 91
    r€nato says:

    What’s to stop Specter to switch back after the election.

    Um, let’s see:

    1) Democrats controlling Congress and the White House. It is usually more fun to be in the majority than in the minority, particularly a greatly-outnumbered minority.

    2) Republicans would be very unlikely to welcome him back into their caucus.

    Other than that… nothing, I guess.

  92. 92

    @ r€nato

    Thanks, Club for Growth! You’re the best friend a Democrat could have!

    The Club for Growth is Speechless

  93. 93
    passerby says:

    Politicians. What a bunch of whores. Anything to stay in office, to stay in power.

    Specter wants to jump ship from a dying party. How convenient.

    He needs to put his money where his mouth is and vote for issues that support people and not the corporations and private institutions that currently control our industries (agriculture, finance, medicine and insurance).

    Does he have enough time to convince the PA electorate that he is sincere? I’m hoping they will vote in some fresh blood.

    As for Joe Lieberman. He’s pro life? BFD. I don’t buy in to that issue and I view it as just vote whoring, useful only at election time. Bet Lieberman would happily vote a conservative onto the SCOTUS without batting an eye.

    If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

    The 2010 PA Senatorial campaign will be a doozy. Here’s hoping the Steeler Nation will go smashmouth on Specter. We’ll see.

  94. 94
    OniHanzo says:

    @demimondian:

    We’ll see it when and if it happens. Right now, it’s politically clumsy to be pushing towards the right and especially suicidal to be fancying thoughts of going GOP.

    Bayh, as an example, may be a cheap opportunist. But he’s no moron.

  95. 95
    "Fair and Balanced" Dave says:

    Specter should beat Toomey by about 15 points in a general election, maybe more. There’s a 16 point Dem rej advantage, which usually translates into about a 10 or 11 point win for a Dem.

    IMO, there are two big questions concerning the 2010 PA Senate race:

    1. Will the Democrats who were planning on running for Specter’s seat in 2010 will simply step aside and concede the party’s nomination.

    2. Will the DNC try and preemptively anoint Specter as the Democratic nominee–like they did with Bob Casey in 2006? If so, I think rank-and-file Democrats will be much less likely to fall in line.

  96. 96
    TR says:

    No one gives a fuck about Ayers OR Acorn. Repeating those words all year won’t change a thing.

    Oh, on the contrary — repeating all that nonsense will surely help get the Republicans down to 15% party identification or so.

    Keep up the good work, braindead enders!

  97. 97
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh moves right now—although each of them is left of the current Republican party, either one would certainly be the leading candidate for President in 2012

    You actually think Bayh would have a chance in the Republican primary against Palin? Remember, the only people left to vote in the primary are wingnuts.

  98. 98
    r€nato says:

    @Joel:

    Funny, I was just thinking that. Obama’s decision to forgive and forget Joe’s transgressions looks pretty wise now. Retribution against Lieberman would have been fighting an old, irrelevant battle what with Bush out of office and Iraq receding as a hot-button issue.

  99. 99

    The Democrats are going to pick up at least 2 other seats in 2010, probably 4 or 5.

    If Specter is a lousy Democrat for the next year, Democrats should vote against him in the primary. If he wins anyway, go ahead and vote 3rd party, hand the seat to Toomey. The Dems will still have a veto-proof majority, and Toomey would never win a 1-on-1 race with the real Democrat who’ll get the nomination in the next election.

  100. 100
    Harley says:

    It’ll be interesting to see where this travels. At the moment? The odds just ticked in the right direction when it comes to the GOP becoming a regional political party based in the South and Utah.

    Sorta like the Waffle House with bad food and Joseph Smith.

  101. 101
    Church Lady says:

    Political philosophy my ass. Specter’s down 10 points in polling against Toomey. This is no more than a grab for a chance to stay in office.

  102. 102
    Bill Teefy says:

    @Paul L.: Yes! I cannot believe the people who elected Bill Ayers. What were they thinking? And Senator Ward Churchill??? Dam n his eyes! The Democrat Party has its own share of loons. Almost forgot Governor Al Sharpton.

  103. 103
    Face says:

    And to all of the senseless lefty radicals who wanted Obama to stick the knife in Joe Lieberman……he obviously knew what the fuck he was doing, cuz now Liebs makes up part of the Magical 60.

    This Scary Negro impresses me more and more each day.

  104. 104
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @aimai

    Specter is not even changing his party affiliation yet.

    At least until McConnell kicks his ass out, which should be any moment now. Republicans do not look too kindly on those who do not march lock step with the rest of the party. I imagine that McConnell’s phones are lighting up with Ditto Heads demanding that Specter be cast out.

  105. 105
    LD50 says:

    Specter wants to jump ship from a dying party. How convenient.

    I’d rather he did it than he didn’t. No one here is saying Specter is a wonderful, noble individual.

  106. 106
    JL says:

    Michael Steele has released a statement

    Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.
    Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.”

    Thanks to TPM for the tip.

  107. 107
    eemom says:

    Caveats and snark aside, I don’t see any way in which this is not bad news for the rethugs, and good news for the rest of the world. So I’m happy.

    I have a question though for the Pennsylvania folks about some of the above comments — are you saying that Specter will NOT switch to supporting EFCA? And if not, how will he get the support of the unions?

  108. 108
    LD50 says:

    Political philosophy my ass. Specter’s down 10 points in polling against Toomey. This is no more than a grab for a chance to stay in office.

    Church Lady, you amaze me. No one on this thread had figured that out until you showed up. You must gift us with your sagely observations more often.

  109. 109
    Poopyman says:

    Sorta like the Waffle House with bad food and Joseph Smith.

    Joseph Smith is at the Waffle House?!?!?

    Cool!

  110. 110
    gex says:

    @joes527: I think that having the Blue Dogs in the Democratic tent pulling them towards centrism is what keeps them a viable opposition sub-party. You get these government spending is bad – tax breaks for corporations good types all together in a right wing party and you’re just starting the Reagan revolution over again. They’ll start out reasonable. Then they’ll evolve to Palin II – Electric Boogaloo.

  111. 111
    gex says:

    @Andrew: You stole that from the gay agenda, you lazy bastard you! Only in step 3 we convert all your kids to fashion designers (if male) or construction workers (if female).

    Is there a MS Word template or something?

  112. 112
    Peter J says:

    Specter gets reelected, than switches back…

  113. 113
    Woody says:

    Great, another Blue Dog, just what we need.

    My first thought, exactly…

    Why would Dims vote now to re-elect as a Dim someone who loyally supported the GOPuke craziness, and significantly abetted it, for 30 years?

    I don’t see how that’s a ‘good’ thing…

  114. 114
    Billy K says:

    @Andrew: shhhhhhh…..

  115. 115
    JL says:

    @LD50: My feeling is that the GOP can bribe Specter to return after 2010.
    A democratic member was going to win the PA election so Specter figured out that it might as well be him.

  116. 116
    omen says:

    Specter is not even changing his party affiliation yet.

    wes clark was still registered as an independent when he ran in the presidential dem primary. this after being busted (video had surfaced) for speaking at republican conferences.

  117. 117
    passerby says:

    @LD50:

    I’d rather he did it than he didn’t.

    It’s a good sign only in that he’s recognized the defunkedness of the GOP and that he’s behind a political eightball with regard to being re-elected. But a rose by any other name and all that.

    To me D or R doesn’t matter. Looking at how they’ve voted down through the years does matter.

    Out with the old and in with the new. PA, I’m cheering you on.

  118. 118
    Face says:

    I haves mah feelingz that there’ll be a LOT LOT LOT of pressure on the Minny Govz not to sign that election certy, no matter what protocol says.

    Nope. If I recalled Nate Silver, he said if there’s only 99 Sens sat, then 60% of 99 is 59.4, which always rounds down.

    So they’d need only 59 to seat Franken and deny the filibuster. Assuming all Dems vote “yea”, there’s no chance no matter what the Minnesota guv or Senate R’s do (wrt a filibuster) that can prevent Franken being sat.

    Correct me if my crack is too strong.

  119. 119
    JL says:

    Peter J.. We think alike on some subjects. I lost all faith in Specter during the Thomas hearings. He came across like the creep that he is.

  120. 120
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Senators Snowe and Collins, your table is ready

    Please. Specter is leaving to avoid a steel cage match. The Maine Duo have no such worries.

  121. 121
    Mary says:

    This is a devastating blow to the Republicans and came as a complete surprise to them. One huge reason is JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS and the filibuster.

  122. 122
    lilysmom says:

    @JL:

    Wonder how comfy Chairman Steele is feeling right now?

  123. 123
    joes527 says:

    @gex: I remember the Reagan years. I was all like “Fuck. How could we have elected him” and “Shit. How can he get away with those lies and not have the country rise up against him” at the time.

    Funny to look back at that time as “reasonable.”

    You are probably right. No matter what the names, the self-identified conservative party is going to get owned by the crazies.

  124. 124

    Something to remember

    1 If Specter doesn’t toe the line we can still primary his ass next year.

    2. Most of Obama’s agenda will be voted on this year, and for that reason I am happy that Specter is now a Dem. If you want to know why I believe he will vote with us most of the time including on EFCA see point number 1.

    Arlen Specter is desperate to stay in the Senate. He knows the only way he gets to do so is to play ball. Pennsylvania has a sore loser law so if he loses a Dem primary he can’t run as an independent like Lieberman did. This might not be something that he deserves right now, but if at the end of the year we have universal healthcare, cap and trade, EFCA, and education funding all passed it will be worth it then.

  125. 125
    JL says:

    @lilysmom: lol. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that he’ll switch parties, also.
    I still am shaking my head in amazement that the repubs have fallen so quickly.

  126. 126
    kay says:

    @Woody:

    I recognize how frustrating blue dog Democrats can be, but there is a substantial portion of the Democratic Party who are, actually, moderates.
    Voters. And they’ve been pulling the lever for Democrats longer than I’ve been alive. Too, they (mostly) supported HRC, around here, anyway, and they all got over it and showed up and volunteered for Obama, and they’re great workers and really nice people.
    I’m just not comfortable excluding that many individuals.
    That’s who the blue dogs represent.

  127. 127
    UnkyT says:

    @JL: What exactly can they bribe him with that he doesn’t already have, or that he won’t be receiving when he joins the Dems?

  128. 128
    Cat Lady says:

    @Joel:

    This is exactly right. The first thing Obama learned when he got to the Senate is what a bunch of self-regarding preening koolkidz the senators all are – that they’re a club first, and a representative of the people somewhere down on that list. It kills me to see Lieberman still there, but I haven’t heard about him wanking away lately and he mostly votes (D). I doubt he’ll survive his next election, but Specter is doing the same math.

  129. 129
    Cyrus says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    The Club for Growth is Speechless

    LMAO. In a comment to that post, someone observes:

    Let’s not forget to thank Hillary for her part in this.

    During the primary 200,000 republican moderates switched to democratic registration to be able to participate in the democratic primary.

    I assume that commenter is referring to Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos. Clearly, following Limbaugh’s leadership has paid dividends for the party.

  130. 130
    OniHanzo says:

    @Face:

    Assuming all Dems vote “yea”, there’s no chance no matter what the Minnesota guv or Senate R’s do (wrt a filibuster) that can prevent Franken being sat.

    Seriously, is that fiasco still on wheels? What’s the latest on that?

  131. 131
    Mary says:

    Specter is not going to switch back people. He is going to insert the knife and twist it into all of the Republicans who have made his life holy hell over the past few cycles.

  132. 132
    LD50 says:

    @LD50: My feeling is that the GOP can bribe Specter to return after 2010.

    I highly doubt it. By then, the GOP will be even further behind the Dems, and even more run by crazies. They’ll have nothing to offer him better than what the Dems have. Besides, by then Specter will be 80. Given that he’s also dodged cancer, he’ll probably be looking to ride out the clock on his remaining years in the Senate.

    Plus, the GOP’s insistence in ideological purity would prevent them from even trying. The GOP will claim the solution is that they didn’t run someone wingnutty enough for the PA senate seat.

  133. 133
    JK says:

    Rush Limbaugh: “It’s ultimately good — you’re weeding out people who aren’t really Republicans.”

  134. 134
    Billy K says:

    1 If Specter doesn’t toe the line we can still primary his ass next year.
    2. Most of Obama’s agenda will be voted on this year, and for that reason I am happy that Specter is now a Dem. If you want to know why I believe he will vote with us most of the time including on EFCA see point number 1.

    This man is wise. Listen to this man.

  135. 135
    Billy K says:

    I still am shaking my head in amazement that the repubs have fallen so quickly.

    When houses made of cards go, they go pretty quick.

  136. 136
    celticdragon says:

    It’s not official until Mark Halperin announces Specter’s switch is good news for John McCain.

    Fixed.

  137. 137

    While I certainly appreciate the gesture, I too am worried about the Blue Dog aspects. Too many times I saw Specter talk a good game on rule of law and government accountability, only to cave in to the GOP when it counted.

    We’ll see where this goes though I would be great to see a true progressive in the spot. I do, however, appreciate the timing of his party switch. I hope he demonstrates some allegiance to Democratic values rather than just opportunistically abandoning a Rethuglican sinking ship.

  138. 138
    areg says:

    I respect Senator Specter for making that bold move – he’s not a hypocrite or a turncoat – he’s willing to THINK and evolve and that takes guts. Well, he probably also realized it would be hard to win re-election as a Republican as well.

    areg

  139. 139
    Mary says:

    They’re giving Biden the credit for this and I’m glad because he has been getting an awfully bad rap.

    SGWhite is right about what this really means.

    You have to feel bad for Grover Norquist. All that he has worked for has come to naught in the end.

  140. 140
    Cyrus says:

    @Cyrus:
    In fact, that might give an unusually clever double meaning to Specter’s remark about Republicans changing registration. To most people that reads like he’s just following the lead of his state’s voters. To those Republicans who re-registered to play games, though, it pretty clearly says “fuck me? No, fuck you.”

  141. 141
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @UnkyT:

    What exactly can they bribe him with that he doesn’t already have, or that he won’t be receiving when he joins the Dems?

    A lifetime supply of free abortions?

  142. 142
    JK says:

    Old John Cornyn quote: “I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”

  143. 143
    angulimala says:

    Political philosophy my ass. Specter’s down 10 points in polling against Toomey. This is no more than a grab for a chance to stay in office.

    Or maybe he finally realized that his party has no room for individual exercise of conscience or good-faith disagreement anymore.

    Maybe he finally realized that they will use you until they can’t and then stab you in the back. It is the Palin party after all.

  144. 144
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    are you saying that Specter will NOT switch to supporting EFCA? And if not, how will he get the support of the unions?

    It’s a calculated risk. Specter’s running on “Unlike my opponent, I’m not a complete wackjob”.

  145. 145
    joes527 says:

    Over at GOS they are giggling over the possibility that committee reassignments might get linked to seating Franken.

    That would be funny as hell, but would require Democratic leadership with stones, so it isn’t going to happen.

  146. 146
    passerby says:

    @Cat Lady:

    what a bunch of self-regarding preening koolkidz the senators all are – that they’re a club first, and a representative of the people somewhere down on that list.

    Yes, this. They are a club first. Sen. Reid** has already begun the buttmunching for fellow Sen. Specter.

    **(how he continues to get re-elected is a mystery to me.)

  147. 147
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe

    Specter switching means that Snowe and Collins lose thier influence.
    “Why should I give you concessions on my part when I no longer need your vote?”
    And since the GOP is now down to 40 members in the Senate, McConnell will push his caucus as far to the right as he can, to please the wingnuts. If Snowe or Collins don’t march lockstep with the rest of the party, they’ll get crucified in GOP circles. And thier money will dry up.
    Political purity if for wingnuts and Green Party members. To hell with purity. I want to win. I want decent legislation passed.

    @All ‘Progressives’
    Stop calling yourselves progressives. You’re Liberals for God’s sake. Liberal is only a dirty word to wingnuts and the elderly. It’s not 1988 anymore.

  148. 148
    JK says:

    Quinnipiac University Poll Showed Specter Running Better As A Democrat
    http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x128.....;strTime=0

  149. 149
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @Mary:

    They’re giving Biden the credit for this and I’m glad because he has been getting an awfully bad rap.

    Who’s giving Biden a bad rap? Biden is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do – in private he provides counsel to Obama and in public he’s the lovable “Uncle Joe”.

  150. 150
    LD50 says:

    “What exactly can they bribe him with that he doesn’t already have, or that he won’t be receiving when he joins the Dems?”

    A lifetime supply of free abortions?

    I think the Naked Hippie Chicks are what finally made up his mind.

  151. 151
    omen says:

    are you saying that Specter will NOT switch to supporting EFCA? And if not, how will he get the support of the unions?

    he’s supported it before. via the hill:

    Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the only Republican senator who voted two years ago for a labor priority making it easier to form unions, is under heavy pressure to flip his position.

    Specter is in a tough spot. If he sticks to his guns and supports card check legislation, as he did in 2007, he could count on union support when he seeks reelection in 2010. But business groups warn he could strengthen a primary challenger.

    http://thehill.com/business.....12-02.html

  152. 152
    Dave in ME says:

    And how long until some conservotard suggests Specter’s decision was cause by a swine flu infection?

  153. 153
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I don’t like him because of his bitching during the Patriots Spygate scandal, but if he plays ball with the President, I’ll take him.

  154. 154
    mak says:

    Adrienne at 90:

    He’s gonna have to return to his original position on EFCA, and quickly to have any chance in hell. PA likes their unions.

    Actually, I like the fact that he’s thumbed his nose at the Unions on EFCA, since it is our best hope that he’ll be primaried hard and thus tack left in the run-up to the primary. As things stand, we have to assume that Arlen was promised a clear field by Rendell & Biden, which really leaves only the unions with enough heft to back a primary challenger. If Arlen switches (again) on EFCA, the unions will go back to supporting him (as they have historically), and then there will be zero chance of anyone having enough $upport to run a non-Quixote dem primary challenge.

  155. 155
    LD50 says:

    Who’s giving Biden a bad rap? Biden is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do – in private he provides counsel to Obama and in public he’s the lovable “Uncle Joe”.

    And as soon as some important foreign head of state dies, Joe will fly out to his funeral.

    Not bad work if you can get it.

  156. 156
    mcc says:

    This is… interesting, and great for what it says about this political moment– i.e. great in that the Republicans have no one to blame for this but themselves. The Republicans had nothing, nothing in their arsenal at this point in time except that 61th Senator, and they pushed the 61st Senator out of the party by their own hand.

    But I’m wondering exactly how much it helps practically. The Democrats already had the problem that they only had 59 Senators in theory, because a lot of those Senators really ought to be Republicans, but have wound up identifying as Democrats because the Republican party of the moment is both toxic and insane; now the Democrats will have 60 Senators, but will they EVER be able to get them to vote the same way?

    Will Specter’s switch of parties secure his cloture vote on issues he might not have gone in on otherwise? (He’s already sold out to the right on EFCA– will he dare flip flop a third time?)

    I mean, maybe Specter will surprise me pleasantly. I am hopeful.

    But consider John Cole’s question:

    All the bitching about blue dogs kind of reminds me of the Republican purity tests. Here are your choices: The majority with a big tent party and blue dogs in more conservative districts. The minority. Which one do you think will get you a more “progressive” agenda through Congress?

    So let’s toss out the silly (but common) idea that Blue Dogs are all the same and ask a slightly different question: Given that the only vote where party identification inherently matters is the majority leader vote, if a single Democratic member votes basically the same way Susan Collins does, and that member switching to the Republicans would not switch party control of the House or Senate, do the Democrats gain anything from having that member?

    Or maybe a slightly different question might be: Which benefits the Democrats more? A situation where they hold 61 votes, and the Republican party is a collection of dead-end extremists? Or a situation where ten of their right-wing members switch parties and they hold 51 votes– such that the Democrats can no longer get cloture on a party line vote, but the Republicans actually have to live in a world where there are moderates in their party and they can’t approach every problem with the strategy “just say no?” At the beginning of this term I thought the first was way better. But after seeing what the latter situation looks like both in the California legislature and to an extent in the Senate, I’m not quite sure.

    Maybe this isn’t healthy.

  157. 157
    Poopyman says:

    JK @ 142:

    Old John Cornyn quote: “I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”

    And it’s still true! And now they’ve got the PA Dem machine helping to keep it so!

    From here:

    Mr. Specter’s move to the Democratic column is likely to have a chilling effect on other potential Democratic candidates for the Senate. So far, Joseph Torsella, former head of the National Constitution Center and a former deputy mayor of Philadelphia, is the only Democrat to have declared his candidacy.

    Others with higher name recognition seem to have been holding back to see how the field would shape up. Even before Mr. Specter announced his switch today, Representative Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat representing parts of Philadelphia and the nearby suburbs, had told The New York Times she was unlikely to make the run. Other possibilities, including Representatives Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak, had also stayed mum.

    Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, and Vice President Joseph Biden, both of them long-time friends of Mr. Specter, had urged him to switch parties several weeks ago but Mr. Specter declined. Mr. Rendell said in a recent interview that he had promised Mr. Specter that if he became a Democrat, he would help him raise money; Mr. Specter joked that if he became a Democrat, he wouldn’t need Mr. Rendell’s help on that front.

    Morans! The dems need an honest primary.

  158. 158
    Napoleon says:

    So what if Arlan just votes for closure on EFCA even if not for the bill itself. Wouldn’t that be enough for the unions?

  159. 159
    Adrienne says:

    I have a question though for the Pennsylvania folks about some of the above comments—are you saying that Specter will NOT switch to supporting EFCA? And if not, how will he get the support of the unions?

    He’ll switch back to supporting it. Give it until, oh, I’d say, early to mid 2010. He’ll switch. You DO NOT win Democratic primaries state-wide in PA by pissing on the unions.

  160. 160
    PaulW says:

    Dear Republicans:

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA gasp deep breath WHAHAHAHWHWAHWHAHAHWWHAHAAHAAA satisfied smile

    The GOP can have Toomey and the Club for Greed. Enjoy the beatdown in 2010.

  161. 161
    Tsulagi says:

    @fester:

    GOP primary electorate thinks Santorum was becoming too liberal in 2006.

    That’s funny if the Gooper “mainstream” now classes ol man-dog Santorum as a liberal DFH. That’s some serious stupid. Speaking of which, funny to see in RedState comments all the bitching about Santorum and Bush endorsing Specter over Toomey in his last election run.

    Maybe they can help Toomey out in the primary by holding some of those wildly successful tea parties as fundraising events. Teabaggers for Toomey!

  162. 162
    omen says:

    @Tim C.:

    Oh, and under the “Bitch-Slap” theory of politics, this is a very very good day.

    i feel like celebrating with champagne tonight.

  163. 163
    Stooleo says:

    Uh, so has Texas seceded yet, and is this also good for John McCain?

  164. 164
    geg6 says:

    @Jon H:

    So, what’s the plan – Toomey takes the GOP nom, Specter takes the Dem nom, then Toomey walks over Specter, handing the seat to a wingnut?

    You are obviously not from nor are you familiar in any way with Pennsylvania. Specter just guaranteed himself a cakewalk in the general. He will beat Toomey mercilessly and by a large margin.

    Now, Arlen isn’t my favorite. But now he doesn’t have to pretend on things like stem-cell research and choice any more. And he may just surprise me.

    I think it was a brilliant move on his part.

  165. 165
    JK says:

    The GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies has resigned from Sen. Arlen Specter’s (D-PA) campaign team.

    Here’s the statement from POS’s Glen Bolger: “Senator Specter has been a record-setting U.S. Senator, and we have been part of his campaign team in 1992, 1998, and 2004, but because of his surprising decision to switch parties today, we will no longer be involved. As Republicans, we are disappointed by Senator Specter’s decision.”
    Source: http://hotlineoncall.nationalj.....gop_po.php

  166. 166
    Face says:

    I don’t like him because of his bitching during the Patriots Spygate scandal

    Is this because the Pats cheated, becuase Bellicheat cheated, or because they all cheated and told some laughable whoppers to cover their cheatin asses?

  167. 167
    Comrade Dread says:

    The Republican response thus far has mainly been pushing for even more purges, so I imagine Snowe and Collins are probably the next in line to make the switch.

    The GOP really isn’t going to stop until they’re down to the 50,000 or so Tea baggers and are only competitive in rural Alabama.

    Well, here’s hoping some enterprising young politician can build a new saner opposition party that actively courts the more conservative and libertarian independent voters that the GOP no longer seems to want.

  168. 168
    Brandon T says:

    Re: Patchouli

    The funny thing is, patchouli oil is a really common fragrance additive in deodorants and other products. So MOST people probably smell like hippies.

  169. 169
    passerby says:

    @angulimala:

    Or maybe he finally realized that his party has no room for individual exercise of conscience or good-faith disagreement anymore.

    This is a good point. Though I’m for voting out the long-timers, Specter’s votes between now and 2010 will demonstrate his loyalty to his new-found philosophy.

    As sgwhiteinfla noted:

    …Most of Obama’s agenda will be voted on this year, …Arlen Specter is desperate to stay in the Senate. He knows the only way he gets to do so is to play ball.

    We’ll see.

  170. 170
    omen says:

    @Mary:

    They’re giving Biden the credit for this

    http://my.barackobama.com/page.....ica/gGxN9z

    wonder what they were talking about.

  171. 171
    geg6 says:

    @b-psycho:

    It’d be funny as hell if Specter lost that primary & the Dem candidate then crushed Toomey.

    Not gonna happen. I know that Rendell and Specter are very good friends IRL. I’ll put my entire 401K on the line (not that it’s worth much, but…) that Rendell has guaranteed that Specter will be unopposed by anyone with a chance in hell of winning. And what Big Ed guarantees, Big Ed delivers.

  172. 172
    JK says:

    Rick Santorum, Former Republican U.S. Senator:
    From today’s live reader chat:

    “I spoke with Arlen this morning and he explained his reasoning to me. I told him I was deeply disappointed that he felt he had to do it. It is a huge blow to the Republican’s ability to moderate any of Obama’s very liberal proposals. I can only hope that Arlen will be as independent as a Democrat as he has been as a Republican.”

    h/t http://www.politico.com/arena/.....B5774.html

  173. 173
    LD50 says:

    John Cornyn, before:

    “I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”

    and today:

    “Senator Specter’s decision today represents the height of political self-preservation. While this presents a short-term disappointment, voters next year will have a clear choice to cast their ballots for a potentially unbridled Democrat super-majority versus the system of checks-and-balances that Americans deserve.”

    I thought they did that last November.

  174. 174
    El Cid says:

    @JK: I wonder if Santorum could actually taste the turd he was chewing while writing that.

  175. 175
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    If Snowe or Collins don’t march lockstep with the rest of the party, they’ll get crucified in GOP circles.

    Marching in lockstep may bother Snowe’s conscience but Collins will sleep like a baby. Better yet, she and Bayh could shed their current affiliations and form the Opportunist Party.

  176. 176
    Poopyman says:

    At least Atrios makes me feel a little better:

    On the plus side, Senate staffers inform me that Republicans in the Senate are visibly in agony right now. So at least we have that!

  177. 177
    Cat Lady says:

    Would Specter become majority party chairman of the Judiciary Committee? I don’t think I’d like that.

  178. 178
    Bootlegger says:

    @r€nato: And don’t forget, if you say something mean about Churchill, ACORN or Ayers you must make a public apology or be publicly pilloried.

  179. 179
    JL says:

    Michael Steele just said that Specter flipped the bird to him. Doesn’t that mean the same thing as fuck you. I see another Supreme Court lawsuit.

  180. 180
    JK says:

    From the latest issue of The New York Review of Books

    The Need to Roll Back Presidential Power Grabs
    By Arlen Specter
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22656

    Final paragraph from Specter’s article

    As for curbing executive branch excesses from within, I hope President Obama lives up to his campaign promise of change. His recent signing statements have not been encouraging. Adding to the feeling of déjà vu is TheWashington Post ‘s report that the new administration has reasserted the “state secrets” privilege to block lawsuits challenging controversial policies like warrantless wiretapping: “Obama has not only maintained the Bush administration approach, but [in one such case] the dispute has intensified.” Government lawyers are now asserting that the US Circuit Court in San Francisco, which is hearing the case, lacks authority to compel disclosure of secret documents, and are “warning” that the government might “spirit away” the material before the court can release it to the litigants.[17] I doubt that the Democratic majority, which was so eager to decry expansions of executive authority under President Bush, will still be as interested in the problem with a Democratic president in office. I will continue the fight whatever happens.

  181. 181
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    How many times have we heard Republicans quote “I didn’t move away from the Democratic party, the Democratic party moved away from me.” How’s it feel, Republicans, to have one of your senior Senators tell you that you’ve moved away from him?
    I could give a shit less about Blue Dogs or Spector’s real motives. If it demoralizes the GOP even a little bit and it helps to pass even a part of Obama’s legislation then Spector’s move is a Good Thing.

  182. 182
    Mary says:

    This is bad news for Republican fundraising and for right wing think tank funding. Nobody wants to give money to people without any power at all.

    This will also affect the media, I believe. There will be less accommodation to the GOP because the media sucks up to power and the GOP now has none.

  183. 183
    Cat Lady says:

    @JK:

    This all reminds me of the game Red Rover Red Rover send Arlen right over.

    Republicans: Thanks for Playing!

  184. 184
    JK says:

    @LD50: Nice to read that Big Bad John Cornyn is staying classy.

  185. 185
    tavella says:

    @mcc: The Democrats already had the problem that they only had 59 Senators in theory, because a lot of those Senators really ought to be Republicans, but have wound up identifying as Democrats because the Republican party of the moment is both toxic and insane; now the Democrats will have 60 Senators, but will they EVER be able to get them to vote the same way?

    Ah, but what this means is that they can let a few Dems vote against a bill if they need to, to suck up to some particular constituency or circumstance — as long as they vote for closure (“I don’t believe in obstructionism!”)

  186. 186
    LD50 says:

    I could give a shit less about Blue Dogs or Spector’s real motives. If it demoralizes the GOP even a little bit and it helps to pass even a part of Obama’s legislation then Spector’s move is a Good Thing.

    What he said.

    I frankly don’t get this common attitude from my fellow Dirty Fucking Hippies that unless some political development is %100 perfect and nobly motivated, it’s worthless. For fuck’s sake, who ever said we’re entitled to get everything we want?

  187. 187
    omen says:

    @JK:

    am i reading this right? specter, to the left of obama? that’s so weird.

  188. 188
    geg6 says:

    @eemom:

    I really think a lot of people commenting here really don’t know a lot about Specter or PA (not a slam, just an observation). Specter, until this year, was pretty reliable on labor issues. He only switched on EFCA because of the wingnuts freaking out over his earlier support.

    I’m sure he’ll switch, no matter what he’s saying in his statement. He’s always had many of the unions behind him in the past and I expect he will again.

    And Specter, despite his utter wimpiness while in the GOP caucus, is pretty socially liberal. He supports stem cell research and is quite outspokenly pro-choice.

  189. 189
    Sasha says:

    Chairmain Steele:
    Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.

    Considering Spector knew he was going to lose a race to the bottom, I’m not condemning him for opting out.

  190. 190
    Will says:

    @PeakVT:

    He shouldn’t be given any special treatment on committees for this. He’s already going to be guaranteed a clear primary field by the Democratic Party in PA, which likely means a lock on the general election. In other words, they’re enabling him to keep the Senate seat he would lose without switching. They don’t owe him any more than that “little favor”.

  191. 191
    angulimala says:

    It has taken different Republicans different lengths of time to see the true nature of their party. I caught on in early 2004. Prof Cole took a little longer. Some people didn’t catch on until more recently.

    I think the Dems should embrace as many of them as they can, for tactical reasons. The Dems have a chance to get themselves a big credit in Specters ledger.

  192. 192
    SGEW says:

    Here y’all go: – the most important subtext I’ve found yet on Specter’s switch:

    Mr. Specter makes the case that “since September 11, the United States has witnessed one of the greatest expansions of executive authority in its history, at the expense of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers.”
    [Sen. Specter’s NY Review Of Books article contains several major points that intend to roll back the expansion of Executive power:]
    I intend to take several concrete steps, which I hope the new president will support.
    . . .
    First, I intend to introduce legislation that will mandate Supreme Court review of lower court decisions in suits brought by the A.C.L.U. and others that challenge the constitutionality of the warrantless wiretapping program authorized by President Bush after September 11.
    . . .
    Second, I will reintroduce legislation to keep the courts open to suits filed against several major telephone companies that allegedly facilitated the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.
    . . .
    Further, I will reintroduce my legislation from 2006 and 2007 (the “Presidential Signing Statements Act”) to prohibit courts from relying on, or deferring to, presidential signing statements when determining the meaning of any Act of Congress.

    Bomb. Shell.

    Read the whole thing.

    [edit: woops! shoulda known I wouldn’t be th’ first to find this! Heh: must refresh page before posting, must refresh page before posting . . . ]

  193. 193
    JL says:

    @UnkyT: You raise a good point because it does appear that he gave up more than he is getting in return. Specter has never been high on my list because I think he’s a hypocrite and a snake oil salesman.

  194. 194
    TenguPhule says:

    I can only hope that Arlen will be as independent as a Democrat as he has been as a Republican.”

    If only, we’d have mandatory Government Healthcare in six months.

  195. 195
    Geeno says:

    I was among those who wanted to see Lieberman feel some pain, but I was commenting to someone else last month that whatever arrangement he and Obama came to was all right. Lieberman’s been quieter than a door mouse since the start of the term, and that’s what I really wanted anyway.

  196. 196
    El Cid says:

    I think we need Zell Miller’s views. Hopefully Chris Matthews can schedule an interview.

  197. 197
    Adrienne says:

    How many times have we heard Republicans quote “I didn’t move away from the Democratic party, the Democratic party moved away from me.” How’s it feel, Republicans, to have one of your senior Senators tell you that you’ve moved away from him?

    I was thinking the EXACT same thing! All I could hear in my head was ” I didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me.”

    How true it is in Specter’s case.

  198. 198
    LarryB says:

    @Adrienne:

    He’ll switch back to supporting it. Give it until, oh, I’d say, early to mid 2010. He’ll switch.

    Maybe. Others (sorry, can’t find the link now) have laid out an alternative scenario which sounds kinda right to me: a) Specter promises to vote for cloture to keep the unions off his back and avoid a primary; then b) he votes against the final bill so he can remain true to his “principles”.

  199. 199
    John PM says:

    This news is hilarious. Republicans were making a big deal out of primarying Spector in 2010, so instead he leaves and becomes a Democrat. Toomey can win the Republican primary and now have no chance of winning the general election. The Republicans are like the jerk boyfriend who kept telling all his friends that he was going to break up with his girlfriend, only to have the girlfriend break of with him first and immediately start dating the better looking guy with the new convertible.

  200. 200
    TenguPhule says:

    The Dems have a chance to get themselves a big credit in Specters ledger.

    Unfortunately Specter’s books are run by Arthur Anderson.

  201. 201
    JK says:

    @Cat Lady: I’m satisfied with any development that gives Senate or House Republicans indigestion.

    I wonder how many ounces of saliva will come gushing out of Chris Matthews’ mouth when he’s talking about the Specter story.

  202. 202
    Josh Hueco says:

    @Paul L.:

    That’s the best you can do? Not even a magic bullet reference?

  203. 203
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    This is good news for Michael Steele!

  204. 204
    Will says:

    @Sasha:

    If this switch doesn’t kill off Steele’s political career once and for all, nothing will.

  205. 205
    Michael says:

    “I spoke with Arlen this morning and he explained his reasoning to me. I told him I was deeply disappointed that he felt he had to do it. It is a huge blow to the Republican’s ability to moderate any of Obama’s very liberal proposals. I can only hope that Arlen will be as independent as a Democrat as he has been as a Republican.”

    That whole “Party of No” thing has worked out so well.

  206. 206
    JL says:

    McConnell is now up on CNN. To paraphrase..a hot line poll show that most folks want a candidate who will put checks and balances on the President. It means that they win I guess.

  207. 207
    lilysmom says:

    The Club for Growth have run candidates against many “moderate” Repubs. Have they ever managed to get any of those candidates elected to national office? I can’t think of any. It seems to me that all of their efforts have only resulted in knocking off viable candidates in state races and then losing the seat to a Dem in the general election. All that money generated and spent for nothing. What a bunch of freakin’ maroons.

  208. 208
    mcc says:

    So what if Arlan just votes for closure on EFCA even if not for the bill itself. Wouldn’t that be enough for the unions?

    I’d actually expect so. I’d be pretty happy, for whatever that’s worth. But there’s been this weird effect where after Specter bolted on EFCA it gave cover to a bunch of Democrats to bolt as well. Can they still get to 60 votes for cloture even if Arlen votes for it?

  209. 209
    passerby says:

    @JK:

    I doubt that the Democratic majority, which was so eager to decry expansions of executive authority under President Bush, will still be as interested in the problem with a Democratic president in office. I will continue the fight whatever happens.–Arlen Specter, The New York Review of Books, May 14 2009.

    Thanks for the link JK. That whole article is good window into where Specter is coming from. If I read it correctly, he was against Executive signing statements under Bush but (oh well) couldn’t do anything about them. And now aims to hold Obama to account in that area (signing statements) too.

    Hmm…Seems like he’s hell bent on boogering up Obama’s administration whether he’s an R or a D. Obstructionizer.

  210. 210
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe

    You’re probably right about Collins, but you’re dead wrong about Bayh. He’s a marshmallow. Apply any heat to him, and he’ll get singed. Let him go on TV and bitch. It’s all he does. Once a year, he forms a ‘working group’ of conservadems, which never accomplishes anything, and does the same thing the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. Remember when he tipped his toe into the POTUS race? That lasted about 9 seconds. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man has no pull outside of Indiana, and he barely has any influence in his home state. He’s nothing to worry about. He’s gutless.

  211. 211
    qwerty42 says:

    I expect to see a second reassortment taking Dems to Republicans,

    I don’t. At least not for a while. The Republican party is being concentrated into a hard core collection of kooks. I don’t see any Democrat, no matter how far to the right, being able to join up with them. If the party can pull itself out of this tailspin, maybe they’d be more attractive, but right now they are nutty and no right-leaning “demonrat” could be trusted.

  212. 212
    JL says:

    @Geeno: Not really quiet because he initially said water boarding wasn’t torture. The next day he signed a letter to the President stating even though water boarding was torture, investigations are worse.
    He has been quieter but not quiet.
    How much pressure is he getting from the GOP to switch to the repubs?

  213. 213
    aimai says:

    El Cid,
    You don’tttttttttttttttttt think big enough. I want McCain’s view! Didn’t he win the election? He’s on my tv often enough.

    aimai

  214. 214
    Martin says:

    The only thing that’ll matter on EFCA is whether it passes or not. If it passes with Specter voting against it, it’ll be water under the bridge. If it gets fillibustered and Specter doesn’t side with the Dems to break it, he’ll be toast.

    And there’s no way Specter will lose in PA to Toomey. It’s too blue and no matter how Specter votes on EFCA, he’ll be VASTLY more labor friendly than Toomey.

    But now is the time to put the screws to the GOP on Franken.

  215. 215
    Adrienne says:

    b) he votes against the final bill so he can remain true to his “principles”.

    What principles would those be exactly?

    Technically, a vote for the EFCA would be a return to his principles since he has always supported the legislation and unions (who have campaigned hard on his behalf) until about a month ago when he felt he had to come out against it to win his Republican primary since the Repub party in PA now consists entirely of wingnutters. Now that he’s a Dem, it is actually more beneficial to him to support the EFCA. As I said, PA – particularly the Dem voters in PA – loves them some unions, and you DO NOT win Dem primaries statewide in PA by publicly pissing on unions.

  216. 216
    ksmiami says:

    Sorry – Just a few things:

    1.) Cheers to the Club For Electing More Democrats er I mean the Club for Growth!

    2.) Can we now drown the Permanent Republican Majority in the bathtub?

    3.) When you start drawing “circles” around “US” and “THEM”, maybe you should do actual math to make sure that the them is smaller than the us…

    BWAHAHAHAHA

  217. 217
    SGEW says:

    More from Specter’s article:

    During debate on the Military Commissions Act, I offered an amendment that would have guaranteed habeas corpus for detainees. In the face of sharp criticism from my own party, I argued that I was not speaking “in favor of enemy combatants.” Rather, I was “trying to establish…a course of judicial procedure” to determine whether the accused were in fact enemy combatants. I pointed out that my fight to preserve habeas rights was, in essence, a struggle to defend “the jurisdiction of the federal courts to maintain the rule of law.” I concluded with a plea for the Senate not to deny “the habeas corpus right which would take us back some 900 years and deny the fundamental principle of the Magna Charta imposed on King John at Runnymede.” Despite these entreaties, my amendment narrowly lost on a 48–51 vote.

    (emphasis added)

    Oh lordy, if he really comes out and becomes the lead voice for the rule of law, I’m going to become his biggest fan ever, ever.

  218. 218
    omen says:

    @angulimala:

    It has taken different Republicans different lengths of time to see the true nature of their party. I caught on in early 2004.

    did specter’s illnesses hurry the process for him? doing it this way is better than lee atwater’s death bed conversion. specter still has time to right former wrongs.

  219. 219
    JL says:

    Specter’s up now on CNN and is probably available on line.

  220. 220
    Adrienne says:

    I’d actually expect so.

    You guys must really not know PA. If Specter votes against it, even if it passes with him voting for cloture, he will have an extremely rough go of it. If he votes against cloture, he’s toast. You all seem to be really misunderestimating the influence of the labor unions in PA. Don’t.

  221. 221
    JL says:

    He does not want to lose the repub party. He has worked to hard for PA and the American people to go down to defeat in the primary. Tough decision, and he’ll remain an independent voice. He is not an automatic 60th vote and he will not vote to invoke cloture on employee choice. now he’s just repeating himself.

  222. 222
    Church Lady says:

    Specter will be 80 in 2010 when he runs again. Do the Pennsylvania Democrats really want another Byrd in the Senate?

  223. 223
    Mino says:

    Even as a Republican, I’ve never thought Specter as oleagenous as Leiberman. Everytime I see Leiberman’s face, I think of the residue left in one’s mouth by Pig Stand ice cream. Yetch. You’ll only try it once.

  224. 224
    TenguPhule says:

    @SGEW

    Oh lordy, if he really comes out and becomes the lead voice for the rule of law, I’m going to become his biggest fan ever, ever.

    Don’t bother.

    Specter wrote the book when it comes to big talk, no action.

  225. 225
    demimondian says:

    @aimai: There are *two* pseudonymous posters here. Which one do you mean?

    Srsly, I went to college withone of the DINOs from Arkansas. If I were Blanche Lincoln, I’d be thinking…hard…about how valuable my letter after my name was.

  226. 226
    Martin says:

    You all seem to be really misunderestimating the influence of the labor unions in PA

    And unions know how to size up the opposition. Who will be better for them, Specter or a Club for Growth flunkie?

    Seriously.

  227. 227
    LD50 says:

    Specter will be 80 in 2010 when he runs again. Do the Pennsylvania Democrats really want another Byrd in the Senate?

    How ageist of you!

    Besides, Ted Stevens is 7 years older than Specter. Were you grousing about his age last year?

  228. 228
    omen says:

    @Church Lady:

    this guy is 90 and is still active as a science reporter:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04.....le.html?em

  229. 229
    PeakVT says:

    @Will:

    An offshoot of the GOS has some interesting (by which I mean boring to anyone who isn’t a politics nerd) details of the committee issue. It sounds like he will jump over, which makes some amount sense if he is going to caucus with the Dems. I just think the Dems should be getting something specific right now in return, beyond the general benefit of having one more semi-reliable vote for cloture. Perhaps they have.

  230. 230
    Mr. Stuck says:

    In the midst of all the hyperwingnut politiking we’ve seen lately, this almost seems normal. And if he wants to win as a dem, he will have to caucus and vote with them, at least till the election.

  231. 231
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I don’t see how it possibly matters one way or the other. However, I will take one more D, I guess. I am not crazy about the Blue Dogs because they obstruct for the sake of obstructing (to be important) rather than for any constructive reason, but again, better D than R, I guess. As you can tell, I prefer to judge a congress person by what s/he does rather than what affiliation s/he claims.

    I will have to wait and see if he actually acts any differently as a Dem.

    As for Ratface Pawlenty, I have very little faith that he will do the right thing. Someone asked where the process was now. Norm’s lawyers have asked for a delay in the appeal, and the MN Supreme Court granted it. They will begin to hear the appeal June 1st. Yes, more than a month away. Thanks, Norm, for putting Minnesota first.

  232. 232
    SGEW says:

    @TenguPhule: Seems like he took some action today, tho’, right?

    But yeah, yer right, of course. I’ve been heavily, heavily disappointed by Arlen before: most notably by his caving on the MCA (despite his rhetoric, quoted above).

    But is it too much to hope that he pulls a kind of George Wallace in his waning years? [never mind hoping he pulls an actual John Cole!]

    . . . oh wait. Listening to his presser on CNN’s feed: he’s still going to oppose Dawn Johnsen?! fucker.

  233. 233
    gbear says:

    Meanwhile back in real life, another guy with Obama Derangement Syndrome goes off the deep end and kills a couple cops.

  234. 234
    omen says:

    ha! via wiki, he started out as a democrat:

    Specter ran for District Attorney, on the Republican ticket as a registered Democrat. He handily beat incumbent Jim Crumlish, and subsequently changed his registration to Republican. Although a death penalty supporter, as prosecutor he questioned the fairness of the Pennsylvania death penalty statute in 1972[10].

  235. 235
    mcc says:

    Oh lordy, if he really comes out and becomes the lead voice for the rule of law, I’m going to become his biggest fan ever, ever.

    Specter finally deciding to go full out against illegal wiretaps and detainee abuse would actually help enormously, and in a way I think Specter would be uniquely positioned to help. The blogs may complain but I think the Obama administration is at least “trying” to be as progressive as they can on rule of law issues– but even to the extent they are trying are being held back by a complicit Congress, recalitrant intelligence agencies, and divided public they have to work with. A voice like Specter’s — with good standing in the Village, respect among moderate and ex- conservatives, and the “even conservative Arlen Specter believes” tag– would make it much, much easier for the administration to be progressive on these issues.

  236. 236
    JL says:

    Specter is berating the conservative wing of the repub party. Because of the social conservative Linc Chafee lost. Had Chafee won, Specter could of helped former President Bush pass through the candidates that he had to leave on the table. Specter is disappointed that Bush was unable to get more of his nominations through.

  237. 237
    Will says:

    @lilysmom:

    I believe they consider those victories

  238. 238
    omen says:

    more from his profile:

    He supports affirmative action and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1990. He was one of only four Republicans to vote against the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act* and in recent years has been less enthusiastic about weakening consumer protection laws than many members of his party. In 1995 he was the only Republican to vote to limit tax cuts to individuals with incomes of less than one million dollars. He voted against CAFTA. Specter also supports an increase in the federal minimum wage. He is a leading supporter of the U.S. Public Service Academy.

    iirc, passage of that bill enabled enron.

  239. 239

    Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter Crosses the Aisle to Muted Jeers and a Few Tepid Cheers from the Left…

    by Damozel | Sen. Specter, one Republican who stood firm against corruption of the Department of Justice, is switching from Republican to Democrat. Obviously this is good news for the Democratic Party, though progressives like me aren’t going to be da…

  240. 240
    Steve V says:

    @geg6:
    He was an irritant/disappointment on the Judiciary Committee during the Bush years, but whatever.

    I assume he can keep his “no” vote for EFCA if it already has 50 votes and the only question will be whether he’ll vote for cloture (which I expect he would do). The interesting question would be if he’s needed to be the 51st vote for the bill on the merits.

  241. 241
    Mnemosyne says:

    @guster:

    Is having 60 votes related in any way to the filibuster if you aren’t confident that all 60 will vote the same way?

    You mean if you aren’t confident that all 60 will vote to end the filibuster? Once you get past the filibuster, all you need is a simple majority to pass legislation.

    If all Specter does is vote to end filibusters and then votes against the legislation, we’re still ahead of the game. Heck, even if Specter, Nelson and Bayh join together to vote against the legislation, it still passes with a simple majority.

    But, yes, it’s true that if you can’t rely on your Blue Dogs to break filibusters, it’s the same as not having a majority at all.

  242. 242
    Martin says:

    Remember how this game works.

    Specter has already give up the big item for free. The danger to him is to have the party abandon him at the doorstep and primary him out when he has NO fundraising/support base among Dems.

    So he’s going to hold everything else and trade them away for support commitments. If the unions want EFCA, they’ll have to give something in return. He’ll need support from the pro-choice folks for Johnson to go through, etc. He’s going to be a hell of a busy man, but almost everything will be negotiable at this point in order to save the seat.

    Relax everyone. There’s a lot more to play out.

  243. 243
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Church Lady:
    Two words: Strom Thurmond.

  244. 244
    Will says:

    @PeakVT:

    Thanks for the link. That’s really interesting about the one minority vote needed to move to a vote without further debate. Yeah, somehow I don’t see any of those other pricks nearly as “open-minded” as Specter.

    Orrin Hatch
    Chuck Grassley
    Jon Kyl
    Jeff Sessions
    Lindsey Graham
    John Cornyn
    Tom Coburn

    Well, maybe if one of them has a boy-becomes-man-man-becomes-boy switcheroo, like Vice Versa or Like Father Like Son.

    Ah wait, scratch the last one. You’d have winger Kirk Cameron in the Senate. VERY bad news. Let’s stick with Fred Savage.

  245. 245
    Ash Can says:

    It will be interesting to see what Specter does now that he won’t have the party caucus heavies (likely often literally) breathing down his neck. I really have to wonder if it was this intraparty pressure that flipped him on issues like torture and EFCA, and ultimately drove him from the GOP. I don’t expect him to be anything but a conservative Dem, but he has a well-established track record as a moderate, so I certainly don’t expect anything egregious.

  246. 246
    oh really says:

    Additionally, the weirdest thing about being a Democrat is I don’t feel any different than I did when I was a Republican, other than that I no longer have to make excuses for crazy and stupid people.

    You do if you support Harry Reid (ever, for anything).

    John, you may have left the GOP because you realized how corrupt and insane it had become, but apparently you don’t have an entirely accurate picture of the party you joined.

    The Democrats are rarely the good guys — they’re more like the not as bad guys. Admittedly, the Republicans have become so bad (as in totally insane) that it’s getting easier to mistake the Dems for good guys, but you do so at your own peril.

  247. 247
  248. 248
    demimondian says:

    @asiangrrlMN: I wouldn’t characterize the MN Supes’ schedule as a delay. That’s actually pretty damned fast, given the amount of material to cover.

  249. 249
  250. 250
    BenA says:

    @LD50:

    What he said.
    I frankly don’t get this common attitude from my fellow Dirty Fucking Hippies that unless some political development is %100 perfect and nobly motivated, it’s worthless. For fuck’s sake, who ever said we’re entitled to get everything we want?

    You’re talking about the ol’ “I’d rather be right than win an election crowd.” You know the idiots that voted for Nader in 2000. I don’t think you can give Dean and to some extent Kos enough credit for changing the way a lot of Dems think.

    Here’s the deal. I have NO problem with good ol’ Arlen switching parties… and he lost my vote a while ago. I voted for him in 1998… and was a little more neive.. I never expected him to vote 100% Dem ticket… but the fact that he rolled over for the Alito nomination just killed me. Roberts I could see and argument… Alito.. just ugh… and the EFCA sealed the deal. I’ll almost assuredly vote against him in the primary… that being said.. I happily accept him into the party.. and will vote for him in the general without losing sleep if he survives a Dem primary.

  251. 251

    Political philosophy my ass. Specter’s down 10 points in polling against Toomey. This is no more than a grab for a chance to stay in office.

    Well, sure, but so what? The moral imperative for a politician isn’t the same as it is for an individual. The entire point of representative democracy is that a certain amount of craven self-interest is moral behavior for a US Senator. One of the major reasons for periodic elections is that it forces office holders to subordinate their principles to the desires of the electorate.

  252. 252
    Bill Teefy says:

    @UnkyT: Teh awesome bribe would be…wait they got nothing.

    All about power, obvious, and all committee assignments (when made) will go to the Dems so I don’t think the Rebs have anything he wants.

    I am sure he lined up all of his hand washing soap and back scratching lotion before the announcement was made. If he didn’t he is a boehner.

  253. 253
    TenguPhule says:

    . . . oh wait. Listening to his presser on CNN’s feed: he’s still going to oppose Dawn Johnsen?! fucker.

    Fast, wasn’t it?

  254. 254
  255. 255
    Comrade Luke says:

    HA! I came here to comment and DougJ took the exact words from my mouth in the very first comment.

    I’m not sure why anyone would be “happy” about this. All this does is create a greater tyranny of the minority for the Blue Dogs; all policymaking will now have to get the stamp of a dozen DINOs.

    Oh, and you can forget about seating Franken any time soon. They’ll block that to their last breath.

  256. 256
    Church Lady says:

    As to Strom Thurmond and Ted Stevens, yes they were too old to serve, as witnessed by Thurmond’s drooling and Stevens’ referring to the internet as a series of tubes. Byrd can barely string together a coherent sentence.

    Seriously, sometimes people too damn old to serve their constituants in a capable manner keep getting re-elected and are, in actuality, served by the elected official’s staff instead. Sadly, it doesn’t say much for the voters that keep re-electing members of the Depends brigade.

    If that makes me an ageist, I plead guilty.

  257. 257
    tavella says:

    @Comrade Luke: It’s not a matter of being “happy”, it’s that he now has more motivation to suck up to Democrats to get support in the primary, as opposed to being motivated to suck up to the Club for Growth.

    So all that talking a big game and then folding? It’s far more likely to be folding to *our* side.

    Same organism in a different environment will generate different tropisms.

  258. 258
    JasonF says:

    This strikes me as:
    1. Extremely good for the Democrats in the short term (good press about Specter picking the Donkeys over the Elephants)
    2. Slightly good for the Democrats in the medium term (Republicans lose a Senator who weakly supported them and Democrats gain a Senator who will weakly support them).
    3. Slightly good for the Republicans in the long term (in 2010, rather than replace Specter with a Democrat who may solidly support the party, the Democrats will be stuck with Specter’s mushy support).

  259. 259
    passerby says:

    “I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers…”

    As an aside, interesting choice of words: “anxious” vs the usual “able”.

    As a seasoned politician and member of the 100 Elite Club of the USA, we know he’s done his behind the scenes homework, you know, the dealing making, the fundraising, the politicking, etc., and has calculated the odds of his retaining his Senatorship. That he is “anxious” may signal a sense of uncertainty.

    Voters are not falling for the old campaign tricks as much (look what happened to E. Dole and Hillary) so an Axlerod/Plouffe-esque camp. manager will be a must. He’s not made this move lightly but he cannot ignore the iffy-ness of it. I tip my hat to him for being tough enough to fight.

    Also, he’ll be in his 80’s, and I don’t mind if I’m considered ageist, I think this will weigh as an issue (not prominently perhaps) in his 2010 campaign.

  260. 260
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Hunter

    You’re probably right about Collins, but you’re dead wrong about Bayh.

    Then you proceed to give a bunch of examples of how he talks a good game but gladly marches in lockstep with his party when the heat is on. Just like Collins. These two drama queens deserve each other.

  261. 261
    Adrienne says:

    And unions know how to size up the opposition. Who will be better for them, Specter or a Club for Growth flunkie?

    Seriously.

    Those aren’t the choices in a DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY!!!!! His opposition in the primary will be other Democrats who will support the passage of EFCA and will campaign on that very important issue if he continues to take a stance against it.

    What part of that do you not understand? If he doesn’t support that, he doesn’t even make it past the fucking primary in PA to compete against the “Club for Growth flunkie”. Do not take it as a given that he will be the Democratic nominee in 2010. He still has to compete and win in a DEMOCRATIC primary.

    AGAIN, you do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT win a state wide Democratic primary in PA by pissing on unions. Hell, in PA even moderate Repubs and conservative dems support unions. Unions are a huge part of the culture and the political apparatus in PA.

  262. 262
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Martin

    I sure hope Specter’s malleablility works out in the Dems favor like you suggest, Martin. But I just get the feeling that he’s going to do the bare minimum to stay in that Senate seat.

  263. 263
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Those aren’t the choices in a DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY!! His opposition in the primary will be other Democrats who will support the passage of EFCA and will campaign on that very important issue if he continues to take a stance against it.

    I think everybody here understands that pretty well. What we’re suggesting is that the field has been cleared to entice Specter to change sides so the union will have to bankroll an opposition candidate all by themselves. The playing field is not level.

  264. 264

    Hope it works out OK, but I still think the concept of, “Not just more Dems but better Dems” is important.

    I’ve seen far too much gatekeeping at DKos to give them a lot of credit for anything (though there are aspects of their approach that I admire). I don’t feel I’m demanding any sort of intellectual purity but I still like to see realistically where a person stands.

    I have my own issues with PEP’s (progressive except Palestine) and don’t see any change from Spector regarding Israel, but I could be wrong.

  265. 265
    Adrienne says:

    I think everybody here understands that pretty well.

    Obviously not from some of what I’ve read. It’s also obvious that a lot of people here really don’t understand how PA politics works. If he doesn’t come (back) around to supporting EFCA it is not anywhere close to guaranteed that he wins the Dem primary given how entrenched labor is in PA Democratic politics. It will not be impossible to knock him out if he doesn’t play ball on EFCA – think Lieberman and Iraq except Specter can’t lose and then run as an Indy.

    Question: Who do you think the Democratic “grassroots” consist of in a non-presidential election year in PA? Oooh, oooh, pick me. Ummm, I’ll take labor for a thousand alex. The last thing he would want to do is get labor united against him in a democratic primary. It could get ugly.

  266. 266
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Question: Who do you think the Democratic “grassroots” consist of in a non-presidential election year in PA? Oooh, oooh, pick me

    At the end of the day, how much money can you raise? If you’re telling me that the unions can be competitive with Specter’s campaign, then I concede your point. Otherwise, Specter will use his war chest to dominate the airwaves.

  267. 267
    Adrienne says:

    If you’re telling me that the unions can be competitive with Specter’s campaign, then I concede your point.

    If he doesn’t come (back) around to supporting the EFCA and unions get to use that as a rallying tool, then the unions, along with the more progressive elements of the Dem party can defeat him.

    Further, we don’t really know what Specter’s campaign donations will look like. We can’t go by the older information because he was tapping Republican sources. As a Dem, if he’s not going to get labor on his side and progressive fundraisers who want an actual progressive for a nearly guaranteed Democratic win in a state Obama won by 11%, decide not to fund him, where will his money come from?

  268. 268
    HyperIon says:

    Apologies for not reading all of the previous 267 comments but I have a question….which may have already been answered.

    Who says Spector gets the dem nomination?
    What will the state dem party say about his primary run?
    Will they support him or the dem who was going to run?
    If repubs who switch affiliations support Spector, OK.
    but that doesn’t mean the state party has to play along.

    somebody, please explain or opine!

    wouldn’t it be great if he ran in the dem primary and was defeated (say, by a big union effort)?

  269. 269
    katiemc says:

    @aimai:

    what she said

  270. 270
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Who’d have imagined purity tests could be so cleansing?

  271. 271
    David says:

    Having spent 21 years as a resident of Pennsylvania, I think I’ve earned the right to hate Arlen Specter on a personal level. Sure, I’m glad we picked up the seat, but I have a hard-learned, deep-seated inability to be happy about anything he does.

  272. 272

    […] And there is former Republican John Cole: […]

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