I have made the conscious decision not to write blogs on a daily basis for every story that comes down the pike. I try to stay as current as possible but find that writing about something that happened a week ago or more gives time for perspective and further developments. Such is the case of Sen. Arlen Specter. Mr. Specter is a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. He is facing a big challenge in the Republican primary next year and has decided that running as a Democrat would give him a better chance of getting re-elected. One of the reasons I didn’t write about this when it happened last week was I had a sort of “so what?” feeling about it. Despite being a very powerful Republican and sitting as ranking member of some important committees, (like the Judiciary committee which will help approve the next Supreme Court justice) he hasn’t been a very reliable Republican. Well as it turns out, the Specter spectacle is a great object lesson for us all.
Let’s go back to the beginning. On April 28, Arlen Specter held a press conference announcing, among other things, “I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate — not prepared to have that record decided by that jury, the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.” So Mr. Specter doesn’t want to be held accountable by the people he was hired to represent. Well, that’s an interesting position to take just a year and a half before an election. It might give the good people of Pennsylvania an opportunity to decide if they want to rehire him if he doesn’t want to be held accountable to them. But it’s important to remember that this is not a new position for Mr. Specter.
Arlen Specter has been at odds with his party for years. He is one of the few members who can not be counted on for important votes. I don’t mind an independent Senator who votes on principle when he feels he must, but increasingly it seems he votes for issues that will help him politically. Not with the people he represents, who he clearly disdains, but with his co-workers in the Senate. Recently, with the nearly complete control of the Senate by the Democrats, his vote has become extremely important. He was the swing vote for the stimulus bill back in February. His vote committed this country down the path of unbridled spending, the likes of which no nation has ever undertaken before. Even though this seems like a bad idea on the face of it, it is absolutely against the stand the Republican party has taken and as a Republican, he should uphold the party’s position on such an important issue.
So he sides with the Democrats on a variety of issues, not the least of which is abortion rights. He is unabashedly pro-abortion. So if he wants to go caucus with the Democrats, who cares? As far as I’m concerned, good riddance! It’s time we started cleaning house of those who don’t believe in the platform of the party from top to bottom! Did you hear me John McCain? Olympia Snow? Susan Collins? Just make it official like Mr. Specter did. Have the guts to stand up to those stupid voters in your state and tell them how you really feel and side with the party in power. Imagine all the perks you will get.
After all, Mr. Specter was promised that his seniority of 29 years in the Senate will be counted for him. This is what he said at his press conference: “I do this because there are many projects that I want to move ahead for Pennsylvania with my continuing seniority in the United States Senate.” Obviously, he is of the opinion that his seniority will continue. That means that now that he has changed his party affiliation he goes from ranking member to CHAIRMAN of these influential committees he sits on. And of course, the current chairmen will be more than happy to step aside and allow him to just move right in. Even though they’ve been waiting a long time to have control over these committees while the Republicans were in control and Mr. Specter was the chairman, in the spirit of bipartisanship, they will welcome him with open arms, no problem right?
Now Mr. Specter is finding out what happens when you make a deal with the devil and don’t get his signature. Of course he was promised his precious committee chairs and of course they pulled the rug out from under him once he had made his public statement. Now Mr. Specter is in political no man’s land. He has lost his status as ranking member on the committees and alienated those in his previous party who stood by him through those elections when his re-election was in doubt. The Democrats will take his vote when they can get it but won’t really accept him. Now he faces the voters of his state, you know the ones he didn’t want to be accountable to? Looks like Mr. Specter is heading for a more statistically significant constituency: the unemployed!