Tuesday 28 April 2009

Specter defects; is Snowe next?

As I predicted months ago, Specter has gone over the wall.

No party has screwed up so badly that it dropped down below the filibuster line, since the Republicans did it right after Watergate. And for the Republicans, the worst part is that it was their own deliberate, pigheaded stupidity that caused this disaster. Specter got tired of his former party’s excessive partisanship and obstructionism. The lunatic wing of the party declared war on him because he dared to vote on Obama’s side on a key piece of legislation, and they were waging a primary challenge against him – that was his reward for serving the GOP since 1966, forty-three years. They insisted on crapping all over Specter just as they did with Jeffords, and now they’re shocked! Shocked! That it happened again.

RNC chair Michael Steele is already screeching threats of retribution (Specter was faithfully serving the Republican party when Steele was in the third grade, Palin was in diapers, and Jindal wasn’t even born). Senator DeMint completely lost his mind, hollering that the switch is great because Republicans are "seeing across the country that the biggest tent of all is the Tent of Freedom." Swear to God.

I can see why they’re going nuts. This helps nail down the PA Senate seat for the Dems, freeing up Democratic campaign money for other races – like Reid’s. Until the Republicans let Franken into the Senate, the committees can’t reorganize, and in the meantime Specter is still occupying Republican committee seats, while voting with the Dems – ouch!

And worst of all, the switch increases the odds that another will follow: Republican Senator Olympia Slowe says that – for now – she’s sticking with the GOP, but she openly admitted that the GOP never learned their lesson after their sledgehammer tactics impelled Jim Jeffords to quit the party in disgust; she said the party has abandoned its principles, and that the party doesn’t tolerate moderates. She’s a moderate. If she switches now, she has a better chance at high-value committee assignments. And she would lose nothing by switching: she won her last race 3-1 and her state is becoming bluer every year.

61-39 by the end of the year?

Susan Collins could switch too -- she's in the same blue state as Snowe, and the Heinrich Himmler wing of the GOP hates her for her moderate voting. Switching parties could be the perfect way for her to atone for obstructing the pandemic program funding (she bragged about that on her website, and then hastily erased it).

**UPDATE** -- Great piece from Ryan Grim on two other factors in Specter's decision:
1. Hillary's decision to campaign hard in Pennsylvania in 2008, which helped stampede huge numbers of Pennsyvanians from the Republican party to the Democrats, leaving the shrunken GOP (and its 2010 primary) in the control of fascists who hate Specter.
2. Specter's fury that the GOP rightwing's effort to destroy moderate GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee ultimately deprived Specter of his chance to chair the Judiciary Committee and help the GOP put judges on the bench. The group which helped destroy Chafee was founded by the same rightwing whackjob who decided to oppose Specter in the PA primary.

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