Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The disappearing middle

Senator Arlen Specter's celebrated switch to the Democratic party is a bad bad thing A bad bad thing and a harbinger of bad bad things to come. The immediate result is the loss of a senate seat. Had a real Democrat won two years from now in Pennsylvania, the Democrats would have another seat. But if Specter is permitted to keep the seat as a nominal Democrat, it effectively stays Republican. As he says, changing parties won't change the way he votes. He's just betting it will change the way people vote for him. He's betting Pennsylvania Democrats are a bunch of chumps.

And given the numbers in play and the sudden change from the Constitution's simple majority to the need to have sixty votes to pass any meaningful legislation, Specter's tactical move will make it significantly more difficult for Obama to get anything progressive done--even if he is so inclined--which is not altogether certain. Specter is still a right winger. He's on record as saying he's not going to vote differently. The only change is that now he will join right wing Democrats in obstructing progress within the party. He couldn't achieve that any longer as a nominal Republican. The right wing, or in official parlance "moderate", Democrats are actually right wing Republicans. The nominal Republicans have gone so far off the deep end to have rendered themselves meaningless with their hatred and hysteria. They are no longer Republicans in any historical sense of the term. They're just a flaming bunch fucking nutzis. The right wing of the Democratic party's where the money will be made.

Let's hope netroots or somebody kicks Specter's ass in the primary and then beats him again in the general election. The general election? You know he'll pull a Lieberman if it comes to that. And if it does come to that, he'll have the support of both the Democratic and Republican organizations -- and probably the White House as well. Progressive talk is all well and good for fund raising and winning elections, but you wouldn't want to actually have the votes to implement any of it.