Arlen Specter has switched parties! I know, I know... I'm the last blogger on Earth to report on this. Still, this is great news. I've had a great deal of respect for Specter since he began criticizing the Bush administration for its expansive view of the power of the executive branch at the height of the controversy of the wireless wiretapping controversy. The Daily Kos is not thrilled about this development, reasoning that Specter's seat was a surefire Democratic pickup in 2010.
I guess there's some truth to that, but in the immediate future, Specter's vote will be key to ensuring that President Obama's agenda moves forward before that time.
In some ways, Specter's switch doesn't give us anything much. As his statement says, he's not switching back on EFCA, he won't be a reliable Democratic vote, and he'll probably duke it out with Lieberman to be the most obnoxious anti-Democratic voice from within the caucus.
On the other hand, he was going to lose his primary and we'd easily pick up the seat against Toomey, giving us a real Democrat in that seat. Doesn't seem like a great deal.
This move is about political survival, and nothing more. Specter's overriding concern is staying in the Senate, and he'll bend whatever conviction is necessary to make that happen. And since it was clear he wasn't going to survive a primary challenge, well, he did what he needed to do. I wouldn't be surprised, if the Dems pick up a good primary challenger to Specter, for the incumbent to suddenly re-find religion on EFCA. It's not as if Specter believes in anything beyond his title and choice parking spot near the Capitol.
The right-wing of the blogosphere is predictably livid, seemingly unaware of the fact that the Republican party is dying a slow, painful death due to a combination of ideological intransigence, economic mis-managment, and unbelievable cynicism that they themselves are contributing to with their knee-jerk reactionary rantings.
I'll close out this post by quoting from my favorite bunch of clueless wingnuts broadcasting from "planet Corner." Contributor Mark Hemingway, comments:
RE: Arlen Specter [Mark Hemingway]
I read that he was switching parties, but I was disappointed to learn he's still a Democrat.
You just go on being dissappointed Specter's "still" a Democrat, Mr. Hemingway. And while you're at it, you might as well get used to a whole lot more dissappointment in the days, weeks and months to come.