Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Specter of a Filibuster

Senator Arlen Specter announced today that he is switching to the Democratic Party. Assuming Al Franken is seated, Dems will have 60 votes in the Senate. This means that the GOP cannot filibuster anything without gaining a Democratic vote. This is a political earthquake. It assures Specter of re-election in the Senate. I wonder what he got for it. Committee chairmanship, perhaps? This is a failure of both high and low politics. High politics is the stuff we like to talk about - ideas, tactics, strategies. Low politics is about people. Obviously he could no longer stand Senators Cornyn and McConnell, while he likes Harry Reid. The fact that Specter is a Democrat and not an Independent is even more telling. He is not just defecting - a la Jim Jeffords of VT in 2001 - this is a real fork-in-the-eye move.


Raised By Republicans said...

The Republican far right drove Specter out of the party. He was targeted by the ideological purists in the Club for Growth. Ironically, the Club for Growth is proving to be the cause of the further shrinkage of the Republican party.

So, anyone wish to speculate about who will be the next Republican to switch parties? Snowe perhaps?

Raised By Republicans said...

Oh, this is getting really entertaining. Rush Limburger is now calling on McCain to quit the party too. The question is now will this bring the GOP to its senses and finally tell Rush to shut up? Or will they just sit back and let Rush and McCain go at it?

USwest said...

I think Snowe is a good pick for party shift. The only problem I have with all of this is that will these people pull the Democrats further to the right. In otherwords, how far as the center moved and in what direction?

USwest said...

The other thing I would toss out there is that his defection does not guarantee a filibuster proof majority. As a moderate, he could swing either way.

He started democrat and then shifted (I suspect when the Dems got too liberal for him). Now he is back again. I sort of see this as opportunistic. And now, he will damage the chances of a another, younger democrat taking Penn. If Obama backs Specter, he does it at the expense of another democrat.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) had a great quote on this, which I found courtesy of Taegan Goddard's Political Wire , a site I recommend to you all. Here is the quote:

"It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of Survivor -- you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you're no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party."

The Law Talking Guy said...

While this does not create a filibuster proof majority, imagine what it means for the GOP. To get a filibuster, they must reach out to Specter, a man who spurned them and whom they are heaping ridicule and contempt on. He may vote with them for some filibusters, but he will no longer be an automatic vote against cloture, which was what they were counting on.

Senator Olympia Snowe had an op-ed in the NYTimes where she bemoaned that the GOP was going too far to the right and shutting out moderates - echoing Specter - and made no promise that she, too, might not defect.

Now, on balance, I'd rather a real Democrat than Specter or Snowe. But this is not about the big ticket items so much as the dozens of procedural votes where Specter will no longer be getting or following the GOP Caucus marching orders.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I actually don't think this is primarily about whether Specter can win a primary in September 2010, 18 months from now. That's how it's been billed, but that's so far away. There is an argument that he didn't think he could win as an independent and he wanted to forestall Democratic campaigns beginning. Possibly, but it's so far away.

I think this is about torture and illegal wiretaps. Specter has grilled Bush appointees about all this, and I think he doesn't want to be in the party of torture anymore. I think he's above all disgusted personally with what he must be getting form Cornyn and McConnell - a drumbeat to oppose any attempt to investigate plus constant threats of withdrawing primary support from him if he doesn't toe the line.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think having Specter in the party will make the median Democratic position in the Senate somewhat more centrist than before. But the way I see it, I would be deeply suspicious of any policy that the Democrats would want to propose that they couldn't make some compromise even with a centrist like Specter on.

I like that the Democrats have control of the agenda, and Specter changing parties solidifies this important position. But I don't think I'd like the policies that 60 liberal Democrats would come up with in the Senate if they didn't feel the need to reach out to anyone else. It would be the left wing equivalent of the kind of bad policies we got crammed down our throats by the GOP for much of the last 8 years.

And as Lyndon Johnson said of an often disloyal Democrat, "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."

Speaking of good quotations, I heard one on 24 hour news earlier this week (I think it was on Joe Scarburough's show). "Ronald Reagan's big tent party has been transformed into a wigwam in the back yard by the Club for Growth."

The Law Talking Guy said...

LBJ forgot to mention the third possibility: a disloyal Democrat pissing everywhere inside the tent.

A LieberDem.