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Apr 28 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Hold on to your drinks, my darlings. The Cons have become so extreme they just turned Sen. Arlen Specter into a Democrat:

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, facing a primary challenge next year he’s almost certain to lose, will switch parties today and become a Democrat. Seriously.

From a press statement issued by the senator’s office about 25 minutes ago:

“I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. [...]

“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.”

Specter will become the 59th member of the Senate Democratic caucus, which will become 60 once Norm Coleman gives up in Minnesota.

Welcome to the party, Sen. Specter. Not that it’s going to be a primrose path – once the excitement of sticking a thumb in the eye of the Republicons wears off, people are going to start to realize we’ve got a Republican in Dem’s clothing, and happiness will not abound. But, for now, most of us are thoroughly enjoying this.

It’s especially fun watching Cons react. Here’s Michael Steele in a whining snit:

In response to Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch out of the Republican party, RNC chairman Michael Steele put out a statement saying that the senator “left to further his personal political interests.” Later in the day, however, Steele went on CNN and unleashed his grievances against Specter, who never alerted him to his decision. Angry at being left out of the loop and relegated to irrelevance, Steele invoked all sorts of schoolyard insults:
STEELE: Look, you can tweak my nose and you can step on my toes and you can pull my hair. At some point enough is going to be enough. … Sen. Cornyn went out on the line for this man. For the senator to effectively flip the bird back to Sen. Cornyn and the Republican Senate leadership — a team that has stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004 — to save his hide, to me is not only disrespectful, but it’s just downright rude. I’m sure his mama didn’t raise him this way, and it’s a shame that he’s behaving this way today.

Aw, poor baby. And all because Sen. Specter didn’t think you were worth informing.

Mitch McConnell thinks this is the end of the world as we know it:

Mitch McConnell, leader of a Republican minority that is now even smaller, suggested Tuesday that Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection endangered not just the party, but the entire country.

“I think the threat to the country presented by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or a balance,” McConnell said Tuesday.

Heh heh. Aren’t they adorable when they’re shit-scared? He hasn’t got much to worry about. While Specter assured President Obama he supports his agenda, he hasn’t changed anything more than the letter after his name. He’s opposed to confirming Dawn Johnsen for OLC, refusing to back the EFCA, and you can imagine there’ll be plenty of other items where his old Republican side will come out. But, again, it’s not what kind of Dem that’s of concern right at the moment, it’s the fact he’s become one that’s so much fun.

There’s good reason for him to jump ship. After all, moderates aren’t treated kindly in GOP ranks:

The Politico has an item this afternoon with a headline that reads, “Moderates blame conservatives.” It’s about centrist Republicans who are most unhappy about colleagues like Arlen Specter no longer feeling welcome in the party.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) … slammed right-wing interest groups for pushing moderates out of the party.

Specter switched parties Tuesday after a recent poll showed him badly losing a Pennsylvania Republican primary next year to Club for Growth founder Pat Toomey. Toomey’s staunchly fiscally conservative political action committee backs only those Republicans who support a low-tax, limited-government agenda and comes down hard on those who break with party orthodoxy.

“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth,” said Graham. “I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country — and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective.”

“As Republicans, we got a problem,” he said.

That’s probably true, but isn’t the fact that Lindsay Graham considers himself a GOP moderate part of the problem?

You know, I do believe it is. And considering it’s not likely to get better, we should probably keep an eye on Sen. Olympia Snowe – she may be next.

This news has kind of pushed everything else into the background, but let’s not lose sight of the blazing stupidity still evinced by the (now smaller) Con party. Guess who they’ve chosen to join their little “energy solutions” club? Go on, guess:

Last month, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) announced the creation of the House GOP American Energy Solutions Group, meant to “work on crafting Republican solutions to lower energy prices for American families and small businesses.” Helping lead the way toward finding those solutions? Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who yesterday announced her appointment to the group…

[snip]

If Boehner and the House GOP were truly interested in promoting real solutions to America’s energy and environmental crises, Bachmann should be their last pick for the group. After all, she has made a name for herself by constantly repeating the most nonsensical, misleading, radical untruths

about energy and the environment:

“[T]here isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas. There isn’t one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle.” [4/22/09]

“And the science indicates that human activity is not the cause of all this global warming. And that in fact, nature is the cause, with solar flares, etc.” [3/22/09]

[snip]

Bachmann is hardly the only member of Boehner’s “solutions” group who is untethered to reality. Rep John Shimkus (R-IL) declared that capping CO2 would be “taking away plant food from the atmosphere,” and called such caps “the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I’ve ever experienced.” Rep. Mike Pence (R-IA) called cap and trade “an economic declaration of war on the Midwest.”

Interesting picks for the group that’s supposed to help Cons recover the lead on energy policy. Methinks this may not work out well at all. But it’ll be hugely entertaining.

Almost as entertaining as Sen. Specter’s new identity.

3 comments

  1. 1
    Cujo359

    Reading TPM this morning didn’t give me much hope that things will be different now that Specter’s jumped to the other side of the aisle. He’s still not supporting EFCA, and he doesn’t support Dawn Johnsen for OLC, either.It looks like PA will have two Blue Dogs in the Senate now.

  2. 2
    george.w

    I’m not thrilled with Specter, but Steele and others have been accusing him of all kinds of cynical motives and that’s not right. How dare they? The man changed parties after 43 years. That could not have been easy.Boehner and Bachmann in an Energy group? Two great morons who think stupid together…

  3. 3
    Cujo359

    If Republicans had the least bit of sense, they’d be doing some soul searching right now. Specter would qualify as one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. Why wouldn’t he be a good fit in a state like PA? Much as I don’t like the guy, he was their version of Jon Tester (D-MT), a guy who’s not quite in the mainstream of their party, but fairly representative of the state he comes from.Steele’s a clown, and he was the best candidate they had to run the shop.

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