The spectacle of Arlen Specter (R D – PA) switching from Republican to Democrat to save his political hide is an example of politicians gone wild.
The boys at Liberty’s Apothecary have a great treatment of this whole episode – complete with quotes from Specter a few weeks ago promising that he was not going to leave the Republican Party.
Specter has been a black mark on the GOP for years. He only acts and sounds like a Republican in election years, and has ended up creating more problems for Republicans that he is worth. It is no secret that I have never been fond of Specter, and this turn of events has me feeling vindicated. With friends like these…
Here is a look inside the mind of Specter as he wrote his statement:
I have been a Republican since 1966. (Well, I’ve been a Republican in name, at least) I have been working extremely hard for the Party, (trying to make it more liberal, and less like Reagan and Goldwater) for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. (Unless those points of view include lower taxes, more individual responsibility and freedom in general) While I have been comfortable being a Republican, (because I’m comfortable being a fraud) my Party has not defined who I am. (Because I’m not really a Republican and never have been) 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. (At least in the cases when it was also best for me)
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. (Because fighting for freedom is a really wing-nut thing to do) 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. (Especially since Democrats are in control of the Senate and I really miss being a Chairman)
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. (I mean, who really believes all this “free market” crap anyway?)
Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. (Because polling is the most important guidepost to what I do) It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. (For some reason, people think that more government is part of the problem – they’re so small-minded) 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’m such an experienced politician, that I shouldn’t have to follow the rules, laws and I can’t tolerate been held responsible for my actions by people so out of touch with reality that they actually VOTE in a Republican primary) I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania. (At least the liberal elite people of Pennsylvania)
I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. (The polling shows that I’d get killed by Pat Toomey in a Republican primary, so I’m freeing myself of the party of freedom so I can say what I really believe and Democrat voters will like me for it)
I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election. (I have to sound tough, but I really, really hope Toomey doesn’t run against me)
I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. (I’m sorry they are so close-minded that they don’t understand that I’m too important to have to actually defend the votes I’ve cast. Don’t they know who I am?) I can understand their disappointment. (I don’t really understand it, because my training includes Scottish Law) I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. (Those ingrates should love me! The lobbyists in D.C. love me, why don’t Pennsylvania Republicans love me?) It is very painful on both sides. I thank specially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance. (I need to mention a couple Republican leaders to make this whole joke of a statement sound more serious and sincere. The truth is, those guys are suckers. They totally bought my statement last month when I said I wouldn’t leave the GOP. Ha!)
I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. (I’m sure there are lots of important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate, but no one would hire me to work on any of them) I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy. (I’ve got so much seniority in the Senate I can earmark better than Jack Murtha, and do it so it doesn’t look like corruption)
I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. (I’m not ready to actually campaign and explain myself to voters) Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle. (I may wait until 2011 to return those contributions, but it sounds good to offer to return them)
While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. (I don’t want to actually work to do anything that is in line with the Republican platform!) The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. (If I say that enough times, they’ll eventually buy it. Why do we even have two parties anyway? This whole issue of having to stand for election every six years is so 18th Century. Don’t they know that I have been anointed?) And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.
My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. (Unless they promise me lots of good stuff) For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change. (Trust me)
Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America. (As long as it is best for me)