Am I the only one not surprised by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s so-called “sudden” switch from the Republican to Democratic Party? Just as it doesn’t take a perceptional samurai to determine that fitness guru Richard Simmons isn’t too fond of the ladies, it shouldn’t take a political genius to reach the conclusion that Specter would be far more comfortable with a big “D” after his name — adjacent, of course, to the solid “F” he has received from conservatives over the course of his career.
In admitting that his political views fall more in line with the Democratic Party, Specter said today that he came to his decision after, during a recent meeting of GOP leaders, he failed to receive the warm welcome he felt was deserved after he helped to defeat the business-stifling “card check” legislation.
News flash, Arlen — just as you don’t praise a puppy for not micturating on the area rug, you don’t get a standing ovation for simply doing the right thing. Besides, only two years ago, you voted with your Democrats on the issue, and only changed your mind after admittedly being “lobbied heavily” on the issue. Now that’s principled leadership. Please. Save it for the left side of the aisle; completely devoid of principles and values, that’s where you belong.
Even today’s party transition put his startling lack of core principles on display — after all, only a few weeks ago, Specter assured everyone that he would not leave the Republican Party, citing the need for the checks and balances provided by a competitive two-party system in America:
I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That’s the basis of politics in America. I’m afraid we are becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party with so little representation of the northeast or in the middle atlantic. I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. That’s a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers.
Those I’ve spoken with today keep coming back to how such a switch will change the balance of power in the Senate, pushing the Democrats closer to the 60 votes needed for a filibuster-proof majority. Does anybody in their right mind believe that, just because Specter was masquerading as a Republican, the balance of power wasn’t there already? Specter switching parties is much like slapping a new paint job on one of those floating trucks used by Cubans to leave Castro for the United States — at the end of the day, because of the content, the truck is still going to sink and hurt people.
Where this will make an impact, of course, will be in the primaries for the 2010 election. I cannot help but wonder if Specter, now reviled by so many Republicans here in the Keystone State, might have difficulty being welcomed by Democrats who have voted against him for so many years. Personally, I think it paves the way for Pat Toomey or, better yet though certainly a long shot, Devon Generally to pick up the seat — giving Pennsylvania a Republican senator that actually makes decisions rooted in conservative principles rather than determined by which side can lobby more effectively.
I spoke briefly with Generally, who wanted to point out the inherently disingenuous nature of Specter’s decision today, saying that “this was a move made completely from a standpoint of self-preservation, and was a microcosm of exactly what needs to change in Washington.”
“Look, forget for a moment how Specter has, for years, showed a lack of core values,” Generally told me. “He’s abandoned his party because he wanted to stay in power. Specter saw he was some twenty points down here in Pennsylvania, and rather than face the consequences of his poor decisions at the polls, he decided to completely disregard the fact that people have voted for him as a Republican, and he put his own best interests ahead of the will of the people, ahead of the good of Pennsylvania and America. This is what’s wrong with our elected officials today. Their priorities are all wrong.”
Devon is right. Contrary to what Specter will likely argue, this wasn’t about the GOP moving to the right, or about anything other than shameless self-preservation. Honestly, while I may be a conservative, I have respect for anyone–on both sides of the aisle–who refuse to waver from core principles because of what’s popular or politically expedient. That being said, with regard to Sen. Arlen Specter, I cannot speak for all conservatives (and will not pretend to), but on behalf of this conservative and on behalf of America’s Right, I say “good riddance.”
Like caring for a flower garden, occasionally you need to cut away the dead, rotting growth to make room for new shoots. Today, the GOP may have lost one person, but the party became exponentially stronger.