Holy specter of Specter!

| And then they were 40. Senator Arlen Specter dropped a bombshell on Washington by announcing that he would rather switch than fight; he renounced the Republican party and joined the Democratic party.

Two remaining moderates in the Republican party lamented the loss in New York Times op-ed articles (think about it: "lamented the loss in New York Times" — oh, the irony!), citing the narrowness and rigidity of Republican orthodoxy as the driving force behind recent Republican electoral losses. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Christine Whitman (former R governor of New Jersey) made similar arguments that the current trend in the GOP toward achieving ideological purity will result in nothing more than a regional, religious, minority party.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate minority leader, brought his phalanx of stalwart deniers to the microphone to proclaim that Specter's switch was "not a national story, it is a Pennsylvania story." Sure, and the Pope's not Catholic.

Whenever politicians have something to say, they gather a gang of their closest allies to accompany them to the microphones. It has always struck me that the Republicans especially, with Mitch McConnell in the lead, always look like a bunch of meerkats.

GOP senators
GOP senators
GOP senators
GOP senators

The Republican National Committee launched a robo-call campaign in Pennsylvania targeted at Democrats to convince them of Specter's perfidy. They hope to plant sufficient seeds of doubt that Specter will lose in the upcoming primary campaign. (As an aside, I will point out that the current primary system skews our selection of eventual candidates to the far left and the far right, for it is the more zealous extremists of both parties who comprise the primary electorate.)

What astonishes me about the Republican party is how much it is just not getting it. People have clearly decided they aren't buying what Republicans offered during the Bush years, yet the zealous gas bags who lead the party offer nothing more now than obstructionism ("No!") and more of the same failed prescriptions of the past: lower taxes, less regulation, America first, my way or the highway. Bush famously said after 9/11, "You're either with us or against us." That's been decided.

Map shows number of Senators from each party in each state

The Republican party is no longer a national party. It has become a regional party with pockets of strength in the south and the Mountain time zone. Maine has two Republican senators, but that is clearly an anomaly — they are the two remaining moderate Republican senators. In fact, "moderate Republican" has become an oxymoron.

That's fine by me, of course. I used to find merit in the fiscal conservative and libertarian blocs of the party, but those have been exorcised in favor of the religious right and what amounts to anarchists who would like nothing more than to see the federal government eviscerated.

Meanwhile, editorial cartoonists are having a field day

View slideshow

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



Recent Articles