So, most folks know by now, Arlen Specter, Senator of Pennsylvania, is switching from the GOP to the Democrats.
Good friggin’ riddance.
First off, let’s be clear. Specter is no Reaganite conservative. His lifetime ACU rating is 44.47… that means he took the conservative position less than half the time he spent in the Senate. His 2008 score is even lower, at 42.
Second, Specter is a hypocrite. When Jim Jeffords did the same thing in 2001, Specter called for a Senate rule to forbid the very thing Specter is now doing himself.
I intend to propose a rule change which would preclude a future recurrence of a Senator’s change in parties, in midsession, organizing with the opposition, to cause the upheaval which is now resulting.
I take second place to no one on independence voting. But, it is my view that the organizational vote belongs to the party which supported the election of a particular Senator. I believe that is the expectation. And certainly it has been a very abrupt party change, although they have occurred in the past with only minor ripples, none have caused the major dislocation which this one has.
Third, his claim in his press release that the GOP has moved too far to the right is laughable. The reason the GOP is in trouble is because they have become “Democrat-Lite,” following the pattern of the lefties in spending and expansion of entitlements under Mr. Bush.
Arlen Specter moving to the Democrats is really just him moving to the party that embodies what he believes, and at least he has the intestinal fortitude to do so. I hereby applaud his honesty, and can’t wait for Pat Toomey to return Specter to private life where he’ll have to live under the laws he’s helped pass.
Update: Oh, Specter is also a liar. In an interview with Newsweek published on 9 April 2009 (yep, about a month and a half ago), he said (emphasis in original):
Newsweek: Would you consider running as an independent.
Newsweek: No? Definitely not?
Specter: I’m a Republican and I’m going to run in the Republican primary and on the Republican ticket.
Also, as Jim Geraghty points out:
Arlen Specter has made the right decision to win reelection right now; the problem is, he doesn’t face the voters right now. He faces Democratic voters in May 2010, and he faces Pennsylvanians as a whole in November 2010. Right now, being a Democrat and being affiliated with President Obama is a winning hand in Keystone State politics. Today, Arlen Specter bet his next term that the political environment won’t change significantly in the next 18 months.
We will see. But it is very, very rare for a political environment to remain in stasis for an 18-month period.
Indeed. And if economic conditions continue to deteriorate, as many very smart people believe they will, Specter may have just made the blunder that will cost him his cushy Senate seat.
Update II: Gee, looks like not everyone on the left will be welcoming Specter with open arms… at least not Jonathan Chait at The New Republic:
When a politician switches parties, it’s customary for the party he’s abandoned to denounce him as an unprincipled hack, and the party he’s joined to praise him as a brave convert who’s genuinely seen the light. But I think it’s pretty clear that Specter is an unprincipled hack. If his best odds of keeping his Senate seat lay in joining the Communist party, he’d probably do that.
To be sure, Specter is a real moderate on some issues, but his contortions are so comical that no principled read on his actions is very plausible. Specter favored the Employee Free Choice Act favored by labor, turned against it when he faced a primary challenge, and then abandoned his party altogether when it became clear he couldn’t win his primary. In the meantime, he came out in favor of a Hooverite spending freeze after backing the stimulus bill.
Even though Chait doesn’t come right out and say it, though he hints at it in the second paragraph above, Specter is no more a safe vote for the Democrats than he ever was for the GOP. He is at his core a wishy-washy wet-your-finger-and-stick-it-in-the-air weathervane of a politician. Hope the Democrats are ready to deal with that.