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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have just welcomed a hand grenade, sans pin, on board their bandwagon. Anyone who ever counts on Arlen Specter for anything is likely to be disappointed. There have been many precedents to prove this: The only thing Specter has ever been reliable at is being unreliable. Now there's a super-precedent.

As a legal concept, "super-precedents," of course, are a ridiculous figment of Arlen Specter's addled imagination. But Specter's latest display of craven opportunism has finally persuaded me that "ass-clown" is a legitimate compound word.

Posted by Beldar at 06:04 PM in Congress, Politics (2009) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Specter and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) DRJ made the following comment | Apr 28, 2009 7:05:36 PM | Permalink

Amen and good riddance.

(2) Mike made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 7:57:01 AM | Permalink

Arlen Spector is that species of political slime that presents the image of "independent thinker." Lowell Weicker was a similar specimen. They believe in nothing but themselves as they pretend to take the considered approach on all matters while privately extracting the most crass benefit from every metacognition. This is a behavior that can not be extinguished by disease nor age and results in a lifelong, predictable set of responses to every situation that can be summed up thusly: "What's in it for me?" We have the fully evolved example of this species sitting in the Oval Office.

(3) Aubrey made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 9:12:22 AM | Permalink

I recall that Spector's first claim to fame was as the author of the Magic-Bullet Theory as a staffer on the Warren Commission. Always the opportunist.

(4) Loren made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 10:59:59 AM | Permalink

I am sure that Spector can find some ancient Scottish law that applies in this instance which not only supports, but requires him to take this action.

(5) donr made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 12:09:12 PM | Permalink

I understand that Specter's defection is embarrassing for the GOP. Mortifying, really. But wouldn't this be the time to do some damage-control - reaffirm the GOP's big tent and all?

Reminds me of Garbo's opening line from Ninotchka, where she plays a Soviet agent c. 1938: "The last show trials were a great success. There will be fewer, but better Russians."

(6) Paul_of_Pitt made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 12:18:14 PM | Permalink

As a conservative in PA, I have never been more giddy than when I heard Spector jumped ship to the Democrats. They deserve him. And from a practical standpoint did anything really change in the Senate?

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 1:11:39 PM | Permalink

Donr (#5): Thanks for your civil and indeed quite funny comment! Dissenting views, expressed civilly and especially with wit, are always welcome here.

But it was Specter himself who was "embarrassing" and "mortifying." I said what I meant to say in this post, although I acknowledge that Democrats would rather I say something that would give them more satisfaction.

I am indeed a "big tent" Republican, and I acknowledge that even as unreliable as Specter's vote has been, he's voted with the GOP far more often than, say, Joe Lieberman. I'm not celebrating the loss of such party-line votes as he has cast.

But my dismay at the potential loss of that vote which is implied but (ahem) not proven by his party defection is significantly tempered by my belief that he will be at least as unreliable a vote for Obama and the Dems as he has always been for the GOP and its party leaders. The guy is an unprincipled kook, a hand grenade sans pin, whatever party label is nominally attached to him. I don't expect that his vote will be both (a) decisive and (b) different on very many key pieces of legislation between now and the 2010 election.

And I frankly don't expect Specter to survive the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania -- but if he does, I expect him to lose the general election: Again, he's no Joe Lieberman. Specter is not a principled centrist representing a genuinely moderate electorate (which can be argued of Collins, Snowe, Lieberman, and a few other senators who frequently cross party lines), but a mushy ass-clown. He does still have enough instinct for self-preservation to recognize that as a mushy ass-clown, he was definitely going to lose in the GOP primary. But there's no reason to think that long-tenured and traitorous mushy ass-clowns are now what either the Democratic primary voters or the general electorate will want.

And Pennsylvania is not a deep blue state: Recall that it elected and re-elected a principled conservative, Rick Santorum, in 1994 and 2000.

So no, I'm neither embarrassed nor mortified by Specter jumping ship, no more than I was embarrassed or mortified by Chuck Hagel's retirement.

(8) Art Deco made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 6:58:19 PM | Permalink

I think it fair to say that Lowell Weicker was difficult to suffer. That having been said, I seriously doubt his motives were notably mercenary. He had personality problems, not ethical problems.

By all accounts, Specter's tenure as Philadelphia district attorney was animated by frequent publicity stunts. That having been said, his single-bullet hypothesis has been verified by subsequent research and the round of criticisms offered by Josiah Thompson and others successfully discredited.

I would refer 'donr' to the article on Specter published in The New Republic ca. 1986. This fellow has a long and earned reputation for buffoonery and has been subject to primary challenges in Pennsylvania for a reason. I do not think you will see too many folk in opposition to The One experiencing much of a sense of mortification at Specter's departure.

What is curious about this is that Specter is 79 years old and has been in the Senate for 28 years. You would think he would at this point be content to retire.

(9) Zardoz made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 8:51:34 PM | Permalink

I surprised myself at the level of disgust I felt while watching Specter's news conference yesterday. Then today he got his twenty pieces of silver from Obama—also unwatchable.

What a self-centered blow-hard. This simply reconfirms the stereotype of career polititcians.

(10) LLB made the following comment | Apr 29, 2009 11:45:57 PM | Permalink

I think the principle of benefit of the doubt no longer applies in this case anymore.

(11) Incredible Shrinking G.O.P. (formerly Friend #1) made the following comment | Apr 30, 2009 12:00:53 AM | Permalink

I'm not sure which amazes me more - the magnitude of the G.O.P.'s collapse or its sheer velocity. Wasn't it a mere four years ago that KKKarl Rove was boasting of a "permanent Republican majority"??

Oh, How the Mighty have Fallen!

In all seriousness ... I think it's truly, truly sad what the G.O.P. has done to itself. Your Party has gone from embracing moderates (remember the Reagan Democrats?), to taking moderate Republicans for granted, to actively driving moderate Republicans out of the "Big Tent" (circus tent??) and into the swelling ranks of the Democratic Party.

I've been a political junkie for decades and I've never seen anything like this. I am beginning to wonder whether the G.O.P. can survive as anything more than a regional party catering to Limbaugh fanboyz and white, Evangelical Christians. A 29-year Republican senator has defected and given the Democrats a near-filibuster-proof majority, and there isn't even the slightest hint of self-reflection among G.O.P. loyalists. Your reactions "range" from "good riddance!" to "he was an 'unprincipled kook' and a 'mushy ass-clown.'"

I don't mean to dance on your graves. In a way, I am actually rooting for a G.O.P. comeback (albeit, a mild comeback). I believe a two-party (or even a three- or four-party) political system is good for America. But you guys are not making it easy for us.

Seriously, does anyone in this forum have a clue why the G.O.P. is shrinking like a shrinking violet??

Wow. Just, wow.

(12) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 30, 2009 12:43:29 AM | Permalink

Friend #1 (for I refuse to admit the premise of your not-very-clever new pseudonym), one of the very few things that Pres. Obama said in his press conference tonight that I agreed with was this:

QUESTION: Is the Republican Party in the desperate straits that Arlen Specter seems to think it is?

OBAMA: You know, politics in America changes very quick[ly]. And I’m a big believer that things are never as good as they seem and never as bad as they seem.

Please don't distort the facts: The GOP didn't kick Specter out. Rather, Specter himself recognized that the GOP voters in his home state were unwilling to continue rewarding him with their nomination, so he defected. He didn't wait for the voters to say, "You're fired!" Instead he chose to betray his party and vows he'd repeated as recently as a few days ago to stand by it. That makes him scum, and the Dems are welcome to him.

As for your belief that you're in tall cotton that will last forever: Please enjoy that sensation while you can, and relax. Seriously. Just relax and savor what must surely be your party's permanent victory.

In the meantime, some of us, including your host here, are still very confident that Barack Obama and his party will pay an inevitable -- and inevitably heavy -- price when, to paraphrase his long-time minister, the chickens come home to roost. It may be a nuke lobbed on Tel Aviv from Iran. It may be 25% inflation, 15% unemployment, and 15% interest rates from quadrupling an already staggering deficit and spraying federal money around like Niagra. I think it's likely to be a combination -- one that makes Jimmy Carter's stagflation/gas lines/hostages humiliations look like triumphs by comparison. As I wrote a few weeks ago, it's not that I want Obama to fail, it's that I'm certain that he will fail, whether I want him to or not, because of his policies and actions.

It'll take more than your mockery, my very fine friend -- and yes, gentle readers, Friend #1 is a superb and trusted friend of mine in real life, so be civil if you also choose to engage him in discussion here! -- to make this crusty old conservative panic. But by all means, keep giving it your best shot.

(13) donr made the following comment | Apr 30, 2009 4:17:47 AM | Permalink

"I said what I meant to say in this post, although I acknowledge that Democrats would rather I say something that would give them more satisfaction."

I think you may have this precisely backwards. Posts such as this one afford them tremendous satisfaction.

(14) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 30, 2009 4:27:27 AM | Permalink

Donr (#13): Thanks for the follow-up comment. I'd be more inclined to credit your opinion as expressed in it if you hadn't, in your previous post (#5), been so insistent that Specter's defection is "embarrassing for the GOP" and "[m]ortifying, really." If my post being able to provide amusement to Dems depends on their falsely projecting feelings onto me or other Republicans, then it doesn't much matter what I say: You guys are perfectly capable of amusing yourself without regard to anything in the actual universe in which we all reside. Regardless, if you've been amused or entertained for whatever reason by my post or my response(s) to your comment(s), that's a good thing. Good luck and best wishes to you, friend.

(15) Art Deco made the following comment | Apr 30, 2009 4:53:47 PM | Permalink

Incredible Shrinking G.O.P.

As a 'political junkie' for 'decades', you are surely aware that the complaint that 'moderates' are being deprived of their due or driven out of the Republican Party as been a recurring theme of political discourse certainly since around 1978 (with an antecedent appearance around about 1964). For all that, it is difficult to see how the political economy of the United States or social policy therein has been subject to more than incremental modifications in that time, the implementation of some of the more salient of which had the participation of politicians of diverse affliations and perspectives. We reactionaries seldom get our way and do not have iron teeth.

As a 'political junkie' for 'decades' you are also aware that the partisan balance in Congress is little different than what it was in 1990 and that Mr. Obama's electoral plurality was, proportionately, smaller than that of George Bush - pere in 1988.

As for A. Specter, you could call him a 'moderate'. A more precise term would be 'political entrepreneur'. As a 'political junkie' for 'decades', you are aware that these characters are a dime-a-dozen in legislative bodies. He will not be missed. (One might wager he has some non-negotiables somewhere in there. My guess would be these concern the issue of abortion, on which he, the bulk of the Democratic Party, and the professional-managerial bourgeoisie in general, tend to hold deeply repellant views).

As a 'political junkie' for 'decades', you are also likely familiar with the situation as it stood in 1964 and in 1976, and the discussion associated with each. Lyndon Johnson, a far more able and seasoned figure than the current occupant of the White House, corralled a plurality thrice that of The One as well as a two-thirds majority in Congress. Within four years, his party had been ejected from executive office and lost more than 50 seats in the lower house of the legislature. Tip O'Neill once referred to Gerald Ford as the 'last Republican President'. At the time, the Democratic Party had a two-thirds majority in Congress. The Republican Party held just four state legislatures (all in quite small states) and were in grave danger of being decimated by gerrymandering. It also looked as if Jimmy Carter might be able to reconstruct the Democratic Party's advantage in the South.

The novelty (or peculiarity) in our political situation is the banking crisis. While it is hard to divine the administration's thinking, what appears to be happening is that the administration is scrambling to socialize as much of the cost of recapitalizing the financial system and the cost of reinvigorating the auto industry as it can manage politically, meanwhile making use of the crisis to construct a sector of nationalized enterprises a-la Clement Atlee's Britain. It is deeply disturbing because it seems as if no national crisis is so grave that politicians are not acting as agents for vested interests, in this case the United Auto Workers and the bond funds (courtesy Barney Frank and Timothy Geithner).

Also deeply disturbing is that the Presidency is currently occupied by a man who might just have made a passable candidate for Attorney-General of Illinois. He brings nothing to the table on matters economic and financial, has never superintended a public bureaucracy, and has delegated authority to some very dubious characters (again, Timothy Geithner and Rahm Emmanuel). He reads a TelePrompTer well, though.

We just do not need this, and the best we can do is hope that some lucky breaks come his way.

(16) Mike made the following comment | May 1, 2009 9:04:56 AM | Permalink

I think what the self-described "political junkie" means by the moniker is - he watches a lot of MSNBC and reads a lot of the Huffington Post.

(17) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | May 1, 2009 10:04:05 AM | Permalink

The Devil he blew upon his nails, and the little devils ran,
And he said: "Go husk this whimpering thief that comes in the guise of a man:
"Winnow him out 'twixt star and star, and sieve his proper worth:
"There's sore decline in Adam's line if this be spawn of Earth."

Empusa's crew, so naked-new they may not face the fire,
But weep that they bin too small to sin to the height of their desire,
Over the coal they chased the Soul, and racked it all abroad,
As children rifle a caddis-case or the raven's foolish hoard.
And back they came with the tattered Thing, as children after play,
And they said: "The soul that he got from God he has bartered clean away.

"We have threshed a stook of print and book, and winnowed a chattering wind,
"And many a soul wherefrom he stole, but his we cannot find.
"We have handled him, we have dandled him, we have seared him to the bone,
"And, Sire, if tooth and nail show truth he has no soul of his own."

Tomlinson - Rudyard Kipling


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