Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Benedict Arlen

"... one apostasy too many." - Lowman Henry, Lincoln Institute

Certain people such as Senator Snowe are trying to say Specter's defection has something to do with the overly "exclusionary" aspects of the Republican party. But Specter won his last primary. Barely, but he won it, and he had Bush, Santorum, the state party etc. all telling strategic voters to stick with him. And enough of us did. There's no way to view the 2004 primary as anything other than a large number of strategic Republicans holding their noses and accepting Specter's laundry list of sins against the party, ignoring the persistent irritants of his pro-choice and pro-labor positions.

Were Republicans that much less conservative in 2004 than they are in 2009?

The Meghan McCains, Steve Schmidts, and Olympia Snowes of the world are telling Republicans that social issues are killing us. Uh, no. The only social issue that is unmistakably bad for Republicans is Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and there's notable dissent within the party on that issue. Marriage, conservatives win. (Prop 8 anyone?) Guns, we win. Abortion, we're competitive depending on the election. PA's other senator, Bob Casey Jr., is pro-life and mostly votes that way... I'm still waiting for the analysis that pro-choice positions are too extreme for Pennsylvania Democrats to win state-wide.

But the issue that pushed Pat Toomey to scuttle his gubernatorial bid and run against Specter again was the stimulus vote. NOT A SOCIAL ISSUE. The much maligned Club for Growth - NOT CONCERNED WITH SOCIAL ISSUES.

Specter even acknowledged the problems with his stimulus vote in his official statement (emphasis added):
When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable.

The stimulus is what sunk the good ship Arlen. Not abortion. Not stem cells. Not even "Scottish Law" or the magic bullet theory. It was the massive and totally indefensible porkulus. It was "one apostasy too many".

I am not especially uneasy about Pat Toomey's chances in the the general election so long as he gives a well-formed, well-researched message. These concerns are real but entirely overblown, and those expressing them the loudest do not understand basic facts about centrist voters.


UPDATE - Ace nails Specter & David Frum (emphasis added):
But Arlen Specter wasn't merely a social liberal -- he also turned out to be an economic liberal, too. He was indispensable in getting Obama's Spendulus passed. And note that the choice here was not binary, as on immigration, up or down. Almost every Republican wanted a stimulus too, but a "targeted" and "temporary" one, one that didn't grow the federal government years and decades down the road.

If Arlen Specter had voted with Republicans to continue debate, Obama and Nancy Pelosi would have been forced back to the negotiating table to bargain for a more sensible and affordable (and fiscally responsible) stimulus. Which, in turn, would have passed.

Instead Specter cast his vote for full-fledged tax-and-spend budget-busting liberalism. Actually I don't know if liberalism is the right word -- we've seen liberalism in the past, and it's never looked so ruinously irresponsible before. This is some sort of mutated, insane liberalism -- like the Reavers in Firefly. Liberals went all the way to the edge of the 'Verse and went crazy staring into the void.


Samay said...

Meh. We don't want him. Best case scenario, he's the new Lieberman (ever since Obama saved his chairmanship, Lieberman's toed the line) who votes party-line on minor issues but grandstands and obstructs on major issues more to get his name in the spotlight than on actual convictions. His reliance on Bush/Rove/etc. in 2004 followed by his switcheroo in '09 just shows how faithless the guy is. Besides, he supported only the elements of the stimulus that were what drove the Dem base wild - taking out direct spending and replacing it with "incentives"

Specter's been in DC too long, and he's no use to anyone. Maybe he and Lieberman, Ben Nelson, etc. can go form their own "moderate" party and see what kind of support they have outside DC. I'd rather have a Toomey who's consistent about his beliefs in the Senate than a Specter who bobs and weaves based on what he thinks will benefit him. Hopefully Specter will lose to an upstart in the primary, but the base won't support him in the general, and I can definitely see him losing to Toomey.

Samay said...

oh yeah, and the "liberalism" we've seen in our lifetime is the pathetic ineffective version.

The current Obama/Pelosi/Dean party is much more like the Dems of the 30s-60s - able to get things done and able to identify with more of the country than college graduates in large cities.

Frankly, it's starting to look like the hippie baby boomers didn't really do much for progressivism in the US at all.

JoeCollins said...

Yeah, Lieberman is a strange cat. I thought the news reports of Liebs welcoming Specter into the Dem fold were ultra-ironic.

A month ago Specter would have had a clear path in the Dem primary. Now Rep. Sestak is supposed to be serious about running. Obama and Rendell will have to lean on people pretty hard to drop out for Arlen and that will probably leave a bad taste in some people's mouths. It would for me if I were a Dem.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe - who did you work for back in the day - was it Santorum or Specter - I was trying to remember and couldn't...


JoeCollins said...


Anonymous said...

Also - nice use of Firefly - a great show that never really got its fair shake...