Arlen Specter and the Republican Party

I don’t know, I just can’t get all that worked up about Arlen Specter. So he’s gone from saying he won’t be an automatic 60th vote to telling Obama he’ll be a loyal Democrat to denying he ever told Obama he would be a loyal Democrat. I think he’s spooked himself and can’t decide what he wants to be or do. He’s bouncing all over the map. He’ll calm down. And if what we have is another Blue Dog Democrat, as Ron Beasley says — well, it could be worse. I still think it’s better to have him in the Democratic Party than the Republican.

For one thing, it seems to me that Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress will have more persuasive leverage over Specter as a Democrat. He needs the Party’s support to win re-election in Pennsylvania more than the Party needs him to pass legislation. And although the Democrats reportedly have assured Specter they will back him in the primary against any other contender (h/t Glenn Greenwald), that may not last if Specter continues to oppose Democrats on key votes — like Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation and the recent budget bill.

I’m also feeling hopeful about Joe Sestak. His chances may improve if Specter continues trying to ride the Democrats’ star without paying his fare.

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