Arlen Specter’s party switch is worth celebrating.
An abrasive and arrogant liberal who opportunistically trimmed his political sails in stingy microscopic increments carefully calculated to make himself electable finally has found his natural home in the party made for crooks and liars and statists.
Now Arlen Specter can go and extort special personal concessions from the democrat leadership and betray them on key votes.
Doyle McManus, at the LA Times, thinks the democrats aren’t getting anything terribly worthwhile.
Conservatives dubbed him a RINO: Republican In Name Only. Now he has crossed the aisle to join the Democratic majority, but Specter acknowledged Tuesday that he’ll be something of a DINO. Asked whether he plans to attend meetings of the Democratic caucus, he looked momentarily stricken. “Give me a week to think about it,” he said.
Obama and the Democrats, to win Specter over, offered him an amazingly good deal. The president promised to support him in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary next year. (Presidents don’t normally intervene in primary contests — at least, not so openly.) Gov. Ed Rendell, the most popular Democrat in Pennsylvania, promised to help too. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada allowed Specter to keep the 28 years of seniority he has amassed as a Republican — meaning he’ll replace some unlucky Democrat of longer standing as chairman of a major committee.
What do the Democrats get in return? A 60th vote — they hope. …
Specter has always been hard to please. He’ll still be the 60th vote on every issue, just as he was on the stimulus bill — the one who always has a special request before he can say yes. Reid will sometimes wonder whether this was such a good deal. …
That approach, after all, is how the Democrats won so many seats in 2006. Under Rahm Emanuel, now Obama’s chief of staff, they welcomed anyone who looked capable of winning an election, beliefs be hanged.
That’s the party Arlen Specter just joined: the Let’s Make a Deal Party. What it loses in coherence, it makes up in voting power.
And Specter was cheerfully open about the cynicism of his move. He changed parties, the senator said, after looking at the polls and realizing that he couldn’t win the Republican primary. (When was the last time you heard a politician admit that he let polls guide his decisions?) He made a brief reference to the increasing conservatism of the GOP. “As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy,” he said. But he also made clear this wasn’t just about philosophy; he would gladly have remained a Republican if he could keep his job that way.
But that’s how American politics, in all its non-ideological, market-driven glory, often works. As another great Republican, the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, said: “Sometimes a man just has to rise above principle.”