Specter goes from RINO to DINO

Steve Chargaris, CBS:

Sen. Arlen Specter’s jilted former party is pushing the talking point that his switch to the Democratic Party is “an act of self-preservation.”

“[H]is decision ... was a personal decision, limited to his Republican primary prospects in Pennsylvania. Nothing more and nothing less,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., the chairman of the National Senatorial Congressional Committee.

Not to buy into the spin, but they’re actually fairly accurate. And Specter is fully aware of that fact.

“I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for
winning a Republican primary are bleak,” Specter told reporters on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

Specter, who squeaked past an intraparty challenge from former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in 2004, was facing the conservative Toomey again. And recent polls showed him being trounced by Toomey in the Republican primary next year.

Always a thorn in the Republican Party’s side, Specter has been increasingly mistrusted by Republicans, especially at home in Pennsylvania. His views on abortion, stem cell research, the 2007 troop “surge” in Iraq and, most recently, President Obama’s economic stimulus plan have found him at odds with the rest of his party.

And Specter today cited the stimulus vote as the impetus for his switch.

But he also clearly, and repeatedly, admitted that it was more than him being an independent voice that was reason for becoming a Democrat. It was to save his political career.

It is not clear to me why he is not ready to retire. His age and his poor health would have been excuse enough to avoid humiliation in the primary. I do think that Democrats will find him as hard to control as Republicans did. What that means is they still do not have a lock on 60 votes with Specter.

Those who think that Republicans need to get more moderate to win are not paying attention. When Republicans run moderates on the national ticket they lose. That is not to say that they should not make room for some "moderates" who live with liberal majorities. Specters problem is that he was being rejected by the Republican base in Pennsylvania.

The Republicans will not regain a majority by pretending to be Democrats. They will regain the majority when they can convince voters that Democrats have screwed up. That should be their objective right now and Obama is giving them plenty of ammo in that department.


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