Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter sees poor spectre of re-election, jumps to Dems

I never thought I'd see the day, but it actually happened -- Arlen Specter, the long time Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and the author of the widely ridiculed "magic bullet" theory regarding the assassination of JFK, has switched to the Democrats. In a statement, he says he no longer recognizes the party that he was long a member of and the Big Tent created by Reagan has been destroyed. No kidding, most of us figured that out long ago. But this is also just plain opportunism -- he knows that he'd get creamed in the GOP primary next year, and would have a tough time running as an independent, a mostly liberal guy in a mostly conservative state.

It would have been better for him to either declare independent and caucus with the Democrats until next year's mid-terms, or just plain resign and run in a by-election to give people in the Keystone State a chance to ratify his choice or to put someone else in. At least he has offered to return campaign contributions to longtime GOP supporters, which is classy.

Still, Specter's move today gives the Democrats 59 votes (when you include Lieberman and Sanders). If, as expected, Al Franken winds up winning the Minnesota seat (and of course he has, it's just the state's governor who refuses to sign off on it), that gives the Democrats 60 seats in the Senate, and with that Obama pretty much has a free hand to push through his agenda. There may be a couple of liberal Republican Senators who may have been holding off but may also jump ship after seeing Specter so do. However one cuts it, the GOP appears to be in freefall and it's going to take a huge gaffe on Obama's part to turn it around.

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