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Arlen Specter Questions His Party Switch

by: DocJess

Mon May 03, 2010 at 05:06:57 AM EDT


Matt is excited about the new daily tracking polls on Sestak and Specter. Matt, like most of DCW, loves polls. I just look at the numbers indicating Joe Sestak pulling closer and shrug. I am not surprised.

Sestak's only problem has been a lack of name recognition beyond our little corner of Pennsylvania. Face it, most people, and most voters, don't know who the candidates are until they start advertising on television. They do, however, know all the sports and movie stars. If you're a long-time DCW community member, you know that my position is antithetical to that: I don't know people like sports stars and movie stars UNTIL they run for office, then I know them all. To an eye-glazing level.

Last Sunday, the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Arlen Specter. I'm not surprised since the current management team is all Republican. They are done, as last week the Inky and Daily News were sold to a group of creditors, who will be installing new leadership. Based on their choices so far, it looks like the old Democratic leadership is on its way back.

I bring up a Republican endorsement because even Arlen Specter is doubting his choice of party switch. Here's the quote

''Well, I probably shouldn't say this,'' he said over lunch last month. ''But I have thought from time to time that I might have helped the country more if I'd stayed a Republican.''

Specter mused that perhaps if he'd remained in the caucus he could have persuaded one or two of his GOP colleagues to support health care reform. Not one Senate Republican voted in favor of it, but he swears he would have regardless of party affiliation.

And yes, this is the year anniversary of Arlen's switch back to the Democratic Party, after having switched to the Republican Party in 1965. I don't really understand his hesitation: a career politician, his only aim is re-election, and that was never going to happen had he stayed a Republican.

I can appreciate Arlen's moderate positions: and I believe he would have voted for health reform no matter what, as he has been fighting cancer for several decades. As a long-time constituent of Arlen's, I know that while his positions on many issues (like DOMA, card check, etc) are somewhat fluid, even when he skews rightward, it's not all the way over to their racist insanity. But in a polarized government, there is little room for moderates, and I don't know how any Democrat could, in good conscience, vote for a Democrat who is rethinking his party affiliation. 

On Saturday night, there was the first of several debates between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak. You can get an overview of what went on here.  I was unable to watch the debate, but I received several calls and emails about it on Sunday. What most interested me was not the political activists who had watched it, but the number of people I know who are a step removed from my level of politics. They are interested in this race, and didn't know much (if anything) about Joe Sestak and wanted to see what he was all about. Their consensus? Arlen looked old. Further, while both candidates made some points, it mostly looked like the tired, old guard versus young, energetic and ready to serve Pennsylvania after a distinguished career in the Navy. Everyone accepted Sestak's rebuttal of Arlen's false attack that he had been demoted for poor leadership as the desire of the new regime to do things their way. The recent ad where Vets speak to Sestak's leadership, ending with "and when we see him...." and then they all salute, also resonates with voters. The more these non-activists voters hear about Joe, the more they like him.

DocJess :: Arlen Specter Questions His Party Switch

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