Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another Frog Volunteers to Carry the Scorpion

It took long enough, but the inevitable seems to have happened and Sen. Arlen Specter, the preeminent fan of Scottish jurisprudence in the U.S. Senate, has decided to play for the other team:

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

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 senator 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."

For his part, President Obama says he is thrilled:

President Obama was informed of Specter's decision at around 10:25 a.m., according to White House officials, and reached out to the senator minutes later to tell him "you have my full support," and we are "thrilled to have you."
Sure he is, Sen. Specter. He's already decided to give you a present:

ALBUQUERQUE — In a dramatic move yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the air quality permit it issued last summer for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant, which is slated to be built on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region just southwest of Farmington, New Mexico.

The action drew praise from critics of the plant and blistering commentary from its proponents.


So do you suppose that the EPA is going to be providing any support for new coal-fired plants? Or are they just picking on Native Americans? And if memory serves, don't they mine a whole lot of coal in Pennsylvania? That should help the ol' reelection campaign.

Good luck, Senator Specter. Can't say that we'll miss ya.

11 comments:

my name is Amanda said...

I don't get it. Does Specter have some kind of pull in EPA?

Mark Heuring said...

No - Specter has no pull with the EPA. But if the EPA declares war on coal-fired plants, the coal industry, which is huge in the Pennsylvania economy, will suffer. Things are bad enough in PA these days without this added burden. And for Specter to join the party and President that will be responsible for this change -- well, that doesn't seem to be the best career move.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Good riddance. Any chance he can convince Snowe and Collins to follow suit?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Picklesworth. We need to assist the GOP in bringing their diabolical plan to completely purge the Northeast of all national elected officials to fruition.
All the pieces are falling into place. Mwahahahaha.

Rich

Mark Heuring said...

Hey Rich,

You want an untrustworthy octogenarian who wants to block the path of a younger, more vigorous potential Senate candidate in 2010? Okay, he's all yours.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Rich,

At this stage the GOP has zero control over national government. Right about now I'm thinking that clarity is the important issue. Go wild. Do whatever you think is best. I happen to think that liberals have dangerously stupid ideas, but sometimes they just need to prove it. These are the leaders we've chosen, so let's see 'em in action!!!

Anonymous said...

Guys,
Politics is a pragmatic business, and Republicans need to re-learn how to attract moderates. Thumping your chests and saying good riddance to the last bulwark against Senate gridlock is not the answer. If you look at congressional records objectively you can see why. Democratic Sens. Nelson, Bayh and Lieberman have been given a lot of praise for their somewhat conservative stands over the years; and I would venture to guess that some practical Republicans would be glad to have any of them switch parties and join the Republican ranks. In fact in 2008 many did lobby Lieberman to cross over. (Ironically, Specter himself was quoted as being all for the Lieberman switch.)
Now, if Republicans are so eager to celebrate centrist Democrats who agree with them some of the time, why are they so unwilling to hold onto centrist Republicans who agree with them most of the time? According to The Political Guide, since 1990, Arlen Specter has voted with the majority of his party 72.9% of the time and missed only 2.8% of the votes. In all likelihood PA is going to elect a Democrat in 2010 and the Republican party will miss out on those potential votes.
Believe me, I am no big fan of Specter and don’t particularly care for aisle crossers. However, I'd rather have them then lose a seat to the other side.
American voters don't elect candidates because they seem "principled." We've got plenty of officeholders who ain't exactly philosopher-kings. But so what: Voters are very pragmatic about elections. They elect candidates whom they trust to actually solve problems the voters care about.
I have always believed that "Nothing succeeds like success." You sell principles on the strength of your ability to apply those principles to solve real problems and achieve real successes. You may think Obama’s ideas suck, but they are selling pretty well right now.
Bush did NOT alienate the voters because of his principles or lack thereof. He alienated the voters by plunging us into a counterinsurgency war in Iraq to find WMD that wasn't there. He alienated the voters again by presiding over the worst financial collapse since the 1970s, just two months after having assured our G-7 trading partners at the G-7 summit that the American economy was doing well.
If Republicans hope to win back the trust of the American voters, they have to show that they are competent, that they have real solutions to America's problems. The reason the GOP has fallen so low in the public's esteem is that they don't seem to have any solutions to today's problems. In fact, they don't even prioritize issues the way the rest of the nation does. To non-Republicans of all types, health care reform is a big issue; to the GOP base, it's a non-issue. To the entire rest of the country, Government action is needed to stimulate the economy and get it humming again. To the GOP base, the economy naturally recovers by itself. I guess that is probably true if you wait long enough, but inaction in the face of crises doesn't sell well.

Lastly, Picklesworth, you say that the GOP has zero control over national government right now, but I disagree. Yesterday, they actuallly had considerably more leverage than they do today, and I can't help but think that if so many on the Right hadn't worked so hard to marginalize Specter, they would still have that one vote hedge against Obama.

Regards,
Rich

Regards,
Rich

Mark Heuring said...

Rich,

We don't want him. And one thing I believe above all else is this -- the Republicans are where they are today because they weren't true to any core principles, especially on the Congressional side.

It's not about thumping our chests. There's nothing remotely principled about what Sen. Specter did yesterday. Picklesworth is right that we need clarity. We need to offer a clear alternative to what is on offer from your party. The results of what you guys are offering will be clear enough to everyone by 2010 and we need to have a clear, coherent message that is a bright line alternative to the current Democratic Party.

Might we lose? Sure. But it's hard to say how losing in a principled way is any worse than losing in the way we did in 2006 (defending the indefensible, especially on fiscal matters) or in 2008 (with an uncertain trumpet).

Anonymous said...

Mark,
you talk about principles, but the majority of your party is currently trying to pretend that torture is something other than what it is. Yesterday, you alluded to "Things that some people are calling torture." Let me ask you a pointed question: When you first read the Gulag Archipelago, did you question whether or not what Solzhenytsyn had been tortured? Or did you dismiss it all? "So what, he got slapped around a little, he was denied a bit of sleep, and had water thrown on him. Sounds refreshing to me. The guy must be a whiner, right? So the poor Russkies were busy and forgot to give him a blanket, and they made him stand for a few days...big deal."
I know you didn't, so why do you pretend, for a second, that what we engaged in wasn't torture. Those who bother to look no what happened was torture, and they are watching the GOP try to pretend that it isn't, and they aren't thinking to themselves, what a principled bunch. And I know that Democrats looked the other way, and I want them exposed too. What we did was dead wrong, and it needs to be addressed - just as President Bush promised it would be. And if you think I am wrong, I urge you to go back and read the Geneva Conventions on torture. A document that Ronald Reagan helped to craft and championed. And read his signing statement too. He realized the import of that document. I may not have loved his policies, but HE was a principled man, and the public responded to that in spades.

Regards,
Rich

Mark Heuring said...

Rich,

It's been 30 years since I've read the Gulag Archipelago. I'll go get another copy and read it again. Then I'll resume that discussion. Maybe the passage of time has dulled my moral judgments.

The only other thing I'm going to say right now is this -- you know quite well which principles I'm talking about in this discussion; fiscal ones. That's where the Republicans lost their way. You have to start someplace, and in my opinion that's the place to start. You can argue about torture forever, but the bottom line is the bottom line in most elections and the Republicans will have another chance precisely because Obama, Pelosi and Reid are spending money like drunken sailors, although I suspect that's an insult to sailors.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

I think the problem on this torture issue right now, is that some folks are beating their chests and preening, "We don't support torture and we're shocked that those folks over there do." Once again, we have bait and switch and lots of people are falling for it. Obama says "Look over there!" and everybody dutifully looks while he tries to fundamentally remake this country.

The government is now taking over banks and car companies, bullying CEOs and CFOs and whipping up popular fury against them for partisan gain, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Go ahead and argue the finer points of torture if you want, but realize that you are being played.

And maybe you support all this stuff, but don't it isn't legal and it's going to have much broader consequences than KSM and a torture technique that hasn't been used since 2003.