Yesterday I got all hot and bothered about Arlen Specter, because he seems to be doing everything possible to give himself a primary fight, but today I can’t really muster the energy to write it all out in any coherent fashion. Must be the case study I’m doing on the State Department’s press strategy during its 2006 evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon…it’s taking a lot out of me.
Specter does seem to have been going out of his way, not just on the optics, which I can sort of understand (since he doesn’t want to appear utterly craven), but also to oppose the consensus Democratic position on almost every issue. And in any case, Specter isn’t just a Democrat in 2009 and 2010. He’s running in the Democratic primary as a first time nominee for senate. And there’s a decent argument to be made that the state could elect a substantially more progressive Democrat this year, though Pennsylvania Democrats, even ones that are pretty progressive on some issues, tend to be fairly conservative on others.
For someone who switched parties in order to avoid losing a primary contest, Arlen Specter is surprisingly oblivious to the very real risk he faces in next year’s Democratic primary.
[Snip.]I completely agree, and I’m frankly surprised. Not because I think Specter agrees with the general Democratic consensus, but just because I expected he’d be a little more attuned to the political realities of his new world. If Specter thinks that he can simply obstruct every appointment and piece of legislation that Democratic primary voters care about and then waltz to the Democratic nomination next year, he’s in for a rude awakening. Not only will some genuine Democrat run against him next year, but that person will crush him. Does he not remember what happened to Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary a couple years ago? And Lieberman had been a Democrat his whole career, even serving as the party’s Vice Presidential nominee. Specter has no history at all with his state’s Democratic primary voters. They’ll have no reason at all to be loyal to him.
What really doesn’t make sense to me is why he’s doing this right now. Sure, the Dems didn’t need his vote for the budget — but public health care is going to be a big deal. And EFCA? Come on. Why is he using up all of the goodwill he just earned from Democrats to fight with them on two very important issues?
Obviously I wasn’t the only one watching Sestak on CNN yesterday suggesting we contribute to his campaign, a quick turn around from where we all were a few days ago. Anyway, more later, I’m sure.