Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Specter of Principle

Sen. Arlen Specter's defection to the democrats is a tremendous example of a politician putting personal ambition before principle- and certainly before party.

Blame shifting, of course, is a skill that any good politician is apt to deploy from time to time. True to form, Sen. Specter claimed "irreconcilable differences" in his political divorce from the GOP:
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. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for reelection in 2010 in the Democratic primary.


Fair enough. For three decades, Specter notoriously survived as a Republican in a left-leaning state. But the cynic in me can't help wondering if this poll had anything to do with the Senator's decision. The latest numbers showed Specter trailing former Rep. Pat Toomey in the GOP primary by 21 points.

Given the numbers, it seems the only irreconcilable difference in the race was between Specter's ambitions and his alleged principles. Given the Senator's decision to switch teams, it's pretty clear that ambition won.


Matthew Frederick said...

Last year, 2,000,000 Pennsylvanians switched their party registration from GOP to Dem. Specter is following his voters.

Matthew Frederick said...

doh! i mean 200,000.

Tory said...

Sorry I missed the comment! Blame it on finals.

Sure, voters switched teams in '08 even as the Senator has followed suit.

But Arlen didn't make the switch until he read the tea leaves. The primary was going to be a disaster for him - better to get out front and try for a win in a primary that may be more sympathetic, than to compete in a race he had no chance of winning.

This was all about political survival. We'll see if PA Dems reward pragmatism by sending him back to Washington...

Matthew Frederick said...

i definitely agree with you on all points, tory.

Christena said...

Good to read .,.,.,.

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