Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sen. Specter: Principled Defender of his Right to be a Senator

Democrats are jumping with joy over Sen. Specter's decision to leave the GOP and become a Democrat. But at least nobody, even the Senator himself, is pretending that this was a principled decision.

Faced with a likely primary defeat next year from far-right candidate Pat Toomey (who would then have gotten his ass kicked in the general election by the Democratic candidate), Specter decided to just bypass all that unpleasantness and become the Democratic candidate himself. Seat = safe!

Democrats, of course, are just happy to have a new Senator who will, after Norm Coleman runs out legal last resorts in MN, bring their number up to magical 60. But this isn't like 2001, when Sen. Jeffords' leaving the GOP changed control of the Senate... we already have the majority in the Senate, and by a good margin. The 60 number is just the votes needed to prevent filibusters. Therefore, Specter is only useful to Democrats in so much as he will vote with them on cloture on the key issues we need (labor issues, health-care, etc). But every indication so far is that he cannot be counted on and the GOP filibusters may well continue.

Let's hope that Democratic leaders in DC are not too busy splooging themselves to realize that important fact. Specter shouldn't be allowed to enjoy the benefits of being in the majority party-- committee assignments, a safe seat-- without giving the Democrats back in return what they need the most... that 60th vote. If Specter refuses, then give him in 2010 what he tried to run away from in the first place- a serious primary fight.

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