Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Senator Specter Switches Parties Again

News Alert: Senator Specter Re-Registers as a Republican

No, not today, but in 1966. Specter was first a Democrat, then a Republican, then allegedly a Rhino, and now a Democrat again - for now.

Arlen Specter was elected Philadelphia District Attorney in 1965 on the Republican ticket eventhough he was still a registered Democrat. He made the formal switch the next year.

Prior to his election, which in and of itself is noteworthy, he worked as an staffer on the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. In that capacity, he either authored or co-authored (the record isn’t clear, and memories have been very selective by the Commission members and staffers) the famous/infamous single bullet theory whereby one bullet wounded Governor Connolly and killed the President. Any other theory would have inevitably led to a conspiracy of at least two shooters.

The single bullet theory by itself earns the Senator a significant footnote in history.

Senator Specter remained a moderate Republican in the East Coast tradition of Rockefeller Republicans. He formed his opinions independently and did not follow any party line – a rare breed in Washington today.

Thus, he opposed Judge Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but supported Judges Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Sam Alito. He was one of several Republican Senators who opposed the impeachment of President Clinton.

Conservative Republican voters in Pennsylvania were increasingly turned off by his independence, especially on issues they felt strongly about.

His positions bring up the classic question: Who do you represent? The primary voters, the statewide voters, your state, or yourself? Voters, of course, always have the final vote.

Senator Specter barely won renomination in the Republican primary five years ago. President Bush campaigned for him, as did conservative Senator Rick Santorum. Even with their help, he only won 51% of the vote in the Republican primary. He cruised to victory in the November election.

He did not return the favor to Senator Santorum, who went down to an ignominious defeat, 59-41% in 2006. Loyalty runs one-way for the Senator.

His vote this year for President Obama’s Stimulus Bill doomed him with Republican voters. His positions against card check and the President’s healthcare proposals did not redeem him. He was headed to a lopsided primary loss next year to former Congressman Pat Toomey, who almost beat him five years ago.

Hence, yet another switch, this time back to his Democratic roots.

Let the independent pain in the gluteus maximus for the Republicans be a similar pain to the Democrats.

They announced today that they will not tolerate his apostasy. Normally, switchers retain their seniority. He claims Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader, promised him the seniority.

However, the Democratic Caucus moved him to the bottom of the seniority list on his five committees. That means he will not play a prominent role in the Judiciary Committee’s questioning of judicial nominees, including the Supreme Court. His comments about Professor Anita Hill being a “flat out perjurer” have come back to haunt him.

In addition, he has to lay off several staffers since a smaller staff comes with reduced seniority.

They will reassess his seniority after next year’s elections. In short, not only he must get reelected, but also toe the line on critical issues.

Senator Spector is acting like the aging prize figher or quarterback (think Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Bret Farve) who doesn't realize it's time to retire.

Sadly, his expression of grief over the passing of Jack Kemp diminished the presence of the two time cancer survivor. He said Congressman Kemp, who died from cancer, would still be alive if Republicans hadn’t cut funding for cancer research.

Last tuesday he had to apologize to the Democrats for a statement in which he said he hopes the Minnesota courts rule for Senator Norm Coleman instead of Al Franken. His explanation: he forgot "what team" he was on.

How sad!

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