I know how politics works. I know that, from the perspective of Democrats in Washington, the just-announced defection of Senator Arlen Specter to their party is a coup. In practical terms I can see why Democratic officials in Pennsylvania are also queuing up to welcome the man to their fold and promising to back him in next year’s primary and senatorial election.
I live in Pennsylvania. I’m a registered Democrat. And I really hope there will be a strong primary challenge to this guy because it would be my personal pleasure to help vote him into political oblivion in next year’s Democratic primary.
He’s billed as a “moderate.” And yes, compared to the frothers and ideologues who now run the Republican Party he seems quite middle-of-the-road. I remember, though, his key role in getting Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. More recently I remember how, in order to win moderate votes in his last run for the Senate, he promised that if re-elected and given the chairmanship of the Senate committee that passes on all Supreme Court justices, he would not back anyone who opposed a woman’s right to choose.
Specter won that election. Republican Party leaders who controlled the senate at this time then made it clear he wouldn’t get that choice committee post if he didn’t go along with President Bush’s pro-life nominees for the court. Specter knuckled under. He got the prize chairmanship. We got a Supreme Court not very much to my liking.
Is Arlen Specter an opportunist when it comes to switching parties at this moment in history? Sure, but that doesn’t bother me. Politics is all about opportunism. You’re not an opportunist, you don’t last long in this game. It’s the integrity thing that bothers me.
I have no great respect for this man. And I hope I get the chance to show as much at the polls next year during the Democratic primary.