O' My Arlen

My quick take is that this sucks, because the more choke points in the policymaking process the better. That said, it probably doesn’t change all that much unless Senate Dems can muster reliable intraparty unanimity. A few things that wouldn’t have passed will, and those could be an important few things, but most final votes won’t be different. The one way this hurts the Dems is that it makes a narrative of GOP obstruction less plausible, and if various things go south by the mid-terms, the Republicans can more plausibly say that all of it’s the other guy’s fault.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

12 thoughts

  1. If you examine the specific policies Specter supports and doesn't and then consider the constituency he represents, his politics make sense, particularly his craven hostility to market and trade measures that are typically portrayed by men like Pat Buchanan and Barack Obama as robbing manufacturing jobs from blue collar Americans and shipping them overseas. However men like Andrew Sullivan will continue to lionize the Arlen Specters as pragmatic moderates, and those 200 Cato economists as extremist ideologue cranks.

  2. Specter did this because he thinks he is more likely to win the Democratic primary than the Republican one. Assuming he wins the primary, he'll easily beat Toomey. I think this changes very little. Specter has never been a really reliable party-line voter. He was already inclined to vote with the Democrats on some really important measures — judges, recession legislation, &c. If he faces a strong challenge from a labor Democrat, he might change his position on something like card check, but I have a hard time believing he won't insist on concessions that take some of the bite out of the legislation. But as a practical matter, that's the only sort of issue where the Specter switch will make a difference — issues that can neutralize a strong Democratic challenge.

  3. Drip, drip, drop Little April showerBeating a tune as you fall all around Drip, drip, drop Little April shower What can compare with your beautiful sound? Beautiful sound, beautiful sound…

  4. Steve nailed it. Specter would have lost the republican primary. He will be guaranteed to get the Democrat nod. In an increasingly liberal state he will win reelection. He will vote as he usually does, liberal. The worst part of this was Gasbag Biden talking at the “announcement” this morning. I almost hurt myself jumping for the remote.

  5. So Arlen Specter is the modern face of “liberalism.” That's just dandy. Why not just get it over with and form one big party. You could call it the 'Fuck You – We're Rich” party.

  6. So I'm wondering how many politicians would join the “Party of Me” if voters weren't so turned off by the name?

  7. You have to love the bi-partisan system. One side is always blaming the other for legislative shortcomings!

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