Specter’s Sell Out Gives Obama The Best 100 Day Gift Ever

Just yesterday, I wrote a post noting that Arlen Specter could not beat Pat Toomey and that the GOP leadership needs to start thinking of ways to ease him out.

Today, the big news is that Arlen Specter is switching to the Democratic Party.

Is that coincidence? Yeah, probably is, actually.

So, what now? Well first off, from my post yesterday,

Moreover, this isn’t a “Lieberman situation.” Specter cannot win a Democratic primary, nor does it seem likely he could win as an independent in a three-way race. Lieberman was only able to pull it off because the Republican in his race was, unlike Pat Toomey, a non-entity and so the Connecticut GOP voted for Joe almost en masse.

Long story short, it’s highly likely that it’s over for Specter although it might be a good idea for him to continue believing he has a shot for a while longer, to keep him from going off the rails to the left. Still, at some point, someone needs to break the news to him and gently dissuade him from a destructive primary he seems unlikely to win. Steele, McConnell, and Cornyn? I’m looking at you.

Expect Specter to move from the center-Left to the far-Left — which is really bad news for those of us who want to keep Obama from ruining this country. With Specter, the Dems are now up to 60 votes if Franken gets in, which is still the most likely case, despite the fact that the vote counting in Minnesota was only slightly less rigged than it used to be in Saddam’s Iraq.

So, what next?

First of all, is Specter going to get re-elected as a Democrat in 2010? That would seem to be far from certain.

Undoubtedly, Specter got some assurances from heavies in Pennsylvania and prominent liberal groups that he’ll get their support in a primary — and that may be enough to scare off any challengers.

However, if Specter gets any sort of serious challenge from the Left, which is entirely possible, since he’s not particularly popular with the Democrats in that state, he would have a lot of difficulty winning.

Even if Specter gets past the primary, next up would be Pat Toomey, who is going to be a strong, well funded challenger. Moreover, Republicans in Pennsylvania will be burning for revenge after this betrayal while Democrats will likely be lukewarm on Specter. That makes a general election somewhat more perilous for Specter than many people may now be assuming.

That’s not a particularly promising path to re-election, but a drowning man will clutch at a straw.

PS: There’s a lesson here for the Republican Party. The “establishment” went all out to get Arlen Specter re-elected in 2004. He repaid them by not only being an unreliable vote for the Republican Party, but by switching to the Democratic Party. Just like Lincoln Chafee. Almost like Jim Jeffords, except he called himself an Independent and voted Democratic.

Isn’t it time for the Republican Party to get out of the business of interfering in primaries? After all, if a Republican can’t win a primary without the help of the Party, he’s not a very strong candidate to begin with. Moreover, by refusing to help these guys in primaries, it would allow the base to police them in a way that the GOP leadership seems unwilling to do. Ironically, third rate mediocrities like Specter and Chafee would have never dared to vote against the GOP so much if they knew that the Party wouldn’t be helping them in a tough primary.

PS #2: From my perspective, this is just one more example of the “GOP elite” being proven wrong. These “geniuses” think that all wisdom comes from DC. Meanwhile, they tout a big government/pro-illegal immigration philosophy, they bank on mediocrities like Specter, and then seem puzzled as to how they keep losing election after election. Here’s a thought: maybe they should start paying more attention to the people outside of DC — who, for the last few years at least, have been calling it right every step of the way while the Republican establishment has been blowing almost every decision.

PS #3: That being said, the Republican Party has definitely improved its performance and its poll numbers since Bush got out of office, but the extent to which it has improved is almost entirely the extent to which it has finally started doing what those of us outside the Beltway have been suggesting for years.

Update #1: If you want to see the mentality I’m talking about in the post script, here’s John Cornyn, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, just a couple of weeks ago, in the WAPO,

“My job as head of the NRSC is to guide the GOP back to a majority in the Senate,” wrote Cornyn in a letter to Pennsylvania Republicans. “I can’t do that without Arlen Specter. With him as our nominee, I can target our campaign resources toward beating Democrats and growing the Senate Republican Conference.”

The implication of those lines is clear: if Toomey is the Republican nominee next November, “campaign resources” may not flow from Washington to Pennsylvania.

So, John Cornyn, how’s that “no need to listen to the peons in fly-over country” line of reasoning looking now that Specter has changed parties? Maybe one of you peons in fly-over country can ask him about it the next time the NRSC hits you up for funds.

Update #2: This may have had an impact on Specter switching parties as well, though it was probably small compared to the impact of a poll showing him down 20 points,

Last Thursday night on the Senate floor, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, then still a Republican, that DeMint would be supporting Specter’s rival, former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in next year’s Senate Republican primary. (DeMint) says Specter “pretty much cut me off and said, ‘I’ve heard enough.'”

…DeMint had not yet gone public with his support for Toomey by the time Specter switched.

DeMint said Specter’s switch “shows that there were not principles attaching Arlen to the Republican Party, but the Republican Party was the means to get elected.”

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