Sunday, May 03, 2009


Frank Rich today:

The Republican Party has collapsed, and that is not a good thing for the country or for Obama. We need more than one functioning party, not just to ensure checks and balances and pitch in ideas at a time of crisis, but to temper this president's sporadic bursts of overconfidence and triumphalist stagecraft. No one is perfect.

Something similar was said in the comments to one my recent posts.

Well, don't worry, because if no one is around to stand in the way of Democrats, there'll always be a Democrat to do the job (and yes, I'm counting Arlen Specter as a Democrat, because if it weren't him, it would Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh or some other Conservadem, or several in combination, doing precisely the same thing, and boasting about it on a Sunday talk show):

When Sen. Arlen Specter announced that he's switching parties, there were press reports indicating that he told President Obama, "I'm a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda."

On "Meet the Press" this morning, David Gregory asked about health care, with this quote in mind. Specter's response was important....

SPECTER: ... I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that. And last week, after I said I was changing parties, I voted against the budget because the budget has a way to pass health care with 51 votes, which undermines a basic Senate institution to require 60 votes to impose closure on key issues.... I did not say I am a loyal Democrat.

It's quite a start for Specter's career in Democratic politics, isn't it? In the four whole days he's been a Democrat, Specter has voted against the Democratic budget, rejected a Democratic measure to help prevent mortgage foreclosures and preserve home values, announced his opposition to the president's OLC nominee, and this morning rejected a key centerpiece of the Democratic health care plan....

Most of you blame the Conservadems themselves, but the voters aren't helping: I keep pointing to the Quinnipiac poll showing Specter with a 71%-16% favorable-unfavorable rating among Pennsylvania Democrats. If rank-and-file Democrats like politicians who don't "vote like Democrats," then a lot of politicians who want Democratic votes, obviously, won't feel it's necessary to consistently "vote like Democrats." (This poll, by the way, was taken when Specter was still a Republican.)

We went through something similar to this in '06 in Connecticut: in that supposedly deep-blue state, Joe Lieberman was just too damn popular to lose to Ned Lamont. (We'll see in 2012 if Lieberman eventually went too far by endorsing John McCain. Five bucks says he didn't and, because he's shrewdly tacking back toward Obama and the Democrats, he'll win again.)

It would take at least 65 Democrats in the Senate, possibly 68 or 70, to give the party a real veto-proof majority. Failing that, we need more Democratic voters who truly believe in Democratic ideas. We're not there yet. And pols like Specter understand that, and act accordingly.

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