Arlen Specter belongs to a type familiar to Congress: the time-serving hack devoid of any principle save arrogance. He has spent three decades in the Senate but is associated with no great cause, no prescient warning, no landmark legislation. Yet he imagines that the Senate needs his wisdom and judgment for a sixth term. He joined the Republican party out of expediency in the 1960s, and leaves it out of expediency this week. |The Fever Swamp|
Adding: While I think that the folks over at the fever swamp are completely right about Specter's defection, it's odd that conservatives are somehow able to see the truth about the shallowness of Specter's principles while remaining so blind to so much else. As insincere as Specter may be, he's not the only person who is reluctant to be identified as a Republican. That's the real problem, that Republicanism as it is currently practiced is desperately unpopular. That Specter is an opportunist using that situation to his own personal advantage is true, but that truth doesn't render the underlying problem non-existant.
So how do the geniuses at the fever swamp plan to deal with Republican unpopularity? Well, now that obstructionism is less viable, their idea is to be louder and more negative:
We can safely assume that the Republicans’ task, already difficult, just got harder. They will have less room to play an inside game of parliamentary maneuvers, and will therefore need even more to appeal to the public at large. They will, that is, have to work to make bad ideas unpopular ideas as well. Which is what their principal task was already. |The Fever Swamp|
Ok, then. Alternately they could look for common ground as a way of giving wayward Republicans suspicious of radical change a reason to come back to the party. But whatevs. It's their party, and they can die if they want to.
Krugman gets the last word:
...we have a party that seems to be in a death spiral: the smaller it gets, the more it’s dominated by the hard right, which makes it even smaller. In the long run, this is not good for American democracy– we really do need two major parties in competition. But I’ll settle for getting that back after we get universal health care and cap-and-trade. |Krugman|