Less than ten days ago, Specter seemed intent on remaining a Republican, facing Toomey for re-election
Something is up. Something is definitely up.
Yesterday evening, as I was driving along Market Street on my way home from work, I spotted former congressman and current Pennsylvania senatorial candidate Pat Toomey giving an interview on the sidewalk outside the studio at Philadelphia’s local Fox affiliate. It was only a few minutes ago, taking a little break from studying on the eve of one of my exams, that I went to look for video of the interview.
Instead, I found an article from Monday, April 20. Last week. It was written following an interview with Sen. Arlen Specter on Fox 29′s “Good Day Philadelphia,” during which he discussed, among other things, Toomey’s recent announcement of his candidacy and the upcoming challenge for Specter’s U.S. Senate seat in 2010.
It was only days before that Fox interview, almost two weeks ago, that Toomey formally announced his bid, obviously driven by a 4,000-vote loss in the primary leading up to the election in 2004 and citing Specter’s vote on Barack Obama’s so-called “stimulus” plan. Toomey had called the stimulus vote “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and last Monday, Specter was in-studio to respond.
Here’s an excerpt from the article. Pay close attention to Specter’s words (emphasis mine):
“Listen,” Specter continued, “I’ve voted 10,000 times in the United States Senate. I don’t expect everyone to agree with every vote. In fact, I don’t agree with all of the votes at this time. But to try to unseat someone who has been in 30 years over one vote is a little extreme. But then again, this guy is very extreme.”
Specter said Toomey’s political views are farther to the right than those of former Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his campaign for reelection in 2006 by a double-digit margin.
Hitting themes that are likely to run throughout his campaign, Specter added, “If Toomey is the nominee, the Democrats are going to have 60 senators, and they’ll be able to cut off filibusters. … The Democrats will be able to pass card-check, the big spending plans, raise taxes, and it’s the last check and balance that we Republicans have.
“He’s a sure-fire loser in November,” Pennsylvania’s senior senator said of his primary election challenger.
I don’t know about you, but it sure doesn’t sound to me like Arlen Specter was even considering making the transition from turncoat Republican to typical Democrat — and that was less than ten days ago.
By now, we all know that it was only a little more than a month ago, on March 17, that Specter all but ruled out a party switch, citing the need for “checks and balances” and what he felt was his “important role” in the Republican Party. Fast forward to April 20, and his language was very similar, even after Toomey announced his candidacy. Specter again noted the need for checks and balances, spoke of “we Republicans,” and lamented what could happen if the Democrats reached the threshold of 60 votes.
Yesterday, Specter admitted that he had been courted by Harry Reid and the Democrats for more than five years. Yet he had remained steadfast, even so recently as the month between March 17 and April 20, in his desire to stay a Republican. What exactly happened over the eight-day span between that “Good Day Philadelphia” interview and yesterday’s announcement? What facilitated such a shift?
Around town, I’m hearing that local congressman Joe Sestak isn’t too pleased with the news of Specter’s party switch. Sestak, a Democrat, reportedly has senatorial aspirations of his own and by all accounts has been weighing heavily a run in the general election against Specter in 2010. In doing so, Sestak was surely counting on the support from President Barack Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — both of whom, now, have vowed to support “new” Democrat Arlen Specter during that race.
What is going on that, after five years of courtship, Harry Reid and the Democrats have decided to sweeten the deal enough to have Specter pull the trigger now? With this administration so well versed, even after only 100 days, in sleight of hand and making the most of [manufactured] crisis, I cannot help but wonder what is coming down the pipeline that the Democrats so desperately need Arlen Specter in their ranks at this moment. What is so important that it’s worth alienating a solid, supportive, fairly popular liberal Democrat like Admiral Joe Sestak in favor of the highly unreliable but extremely malleable Specter?
Nothing happens by accident. Not in this administration. Not with everyone following in lockstep with the Leninesque “the worse, the better” mentality. Obviously, Arlen Specter is not exactly known for his principled decision-making, and for him this was certainly more about self-preservation than anything else. Still, given that even just nine days ago it seemed as though he was intent upon facing Toomey head-on in the Republican primary, I cannot help but think that something is up, that Specter is being used, that somebody else has a few ulterior motives.