05-07-2009, 09:28 AM
“Hypocrisy: prejudice with a halo”
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Savannah, Georgia
A series of odd incidents that have proceeded from Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's party switch last week have raised questions about whether the newest Democrat has permanently damaged himself in the eyes of the state's voters.
The White House is concerned enough about the developments that deputy chief of staff Jim Messina and Ron Klain, a senior adviser to Vice President Biden, traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday and huddled with Specter to try to iron out the problems, according to informed Democratic officials.
Those problems -- in brief:
• Specter pronounced that he would be keeping his seniority when he announced his party switch last week -- maintaining that his ability to deliver for the state would not be diminished in any way shape or form by his move across the aisle. Except, that wasn't exactly right. The Senate's approval of Specter's junior status on a series of committees led to a "he said, he said" between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and the newest member of his caucus. Asked about the back and forth by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Reid stood his ground saying simply: "He is a person who's been in the Senate since 1980. I think he should be able to handle himself."
• In a sitdown with the New York Times' Deborah Solomon, Specter said he was hoping that the Minnesota courts would do "justice" and declare former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman the winner in the contested 2008 election. Whoops! Specter tried to walk the comment back told Reid that he briefly "forgot what team I was on."
• Specter has done little to back off his initial assertion that his decision to switch parties was based almost entirely on political calculations and had little to do with ideology. While most party switchers are almost certainly guided by personal political concerns (what politician isn't?), most don't come right out and say it because it is a turnoff for voters who want to believe that their politicians believe in, well, something.
For Pennsylvania voters -- especially Democratic primary voters -- this triptych of recent events is likely to be deeply troubling.
"His actions over this past week have done nothing to curry favors with either party," said Penny Lee, a former senior adviser to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and now a Democratic consultant. "He needs to show some willingness to be a Democrat."
Another Democratic strategist who follows Senate races closely was more blunt about the damage Specter has done to himself over the last week. "Do you think that any right-minded local Democratic elected official is going to stick his neck out for Arlen?" the source asked rhetorically. "Or any member of the Democratic Senate caucus?"
Even those Democrats who believe that Specter has done himself no real long-term electoral harm with his actions over the past week don't exactly give him rave reviews. "The pride swallowing can't be easy but he had no choice if he wants to get reelected, and he was honest about that," said one senior Democratic strategist.
Despite all of that criticism, Specter still has a number of things going for him heading into next year -- most importantly the support of an exceedingly popular president who commands massive loyalty particularly among the Democratic base and a campaign war chest bulging with nearly $7 million.
And, average voters are not likely to be following every jot and tittle of the Specter saga -- especially so far from an election. Still, insiders are paying very close attention and, if Specter's stumbles over the past week encourage Rep. Joe Sestak to run in the primary, then the damage will have been done.
What once looked like a huge coup for the White House -- and from a governing standpoint remains one assuming Al Franken eventually wins in Minnesota -- has quickly morphed into a gigantic political headache that almost no one saw coming.
Politics is great, ain't it?
Anyone but the this most fuked up President in History in 2012!