Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Switches

There are a lot of reasons to like and support Barack Obama. This is not one of them.

Jonathan Martin of Politico reports the response of presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs to today's switch by Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter from the Republican to the Democratic Party:

President Barack Obama will throw his "full support" behind Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

Obama will campaign and raise money for Specter's reelection in Pennsylvania next year, Gibbs said at the daily briefing.

Asked if that applied to a Democratic primary, Gibbs said: "Full support means full support."

The president's move sends a powerful signal to Democrats in Washington and Pennsylvania that not only is it OK to get behind the longtime Republican, but that they ought to follow suit.

As if to confirm Obama's fealty to Specter, the senior Pennsylvania Senator stated "He said he would support me, come to Pennsylvania to campaign for me."

This is the same Arlen Specter whom, according to the Associated Press, recently maintained

If we lose my seat they have 60 Democrats, they will pass card check, you will have the Obama tax increases, they will carry out his big spending plans. So the 41st Republican, whose name is Arlen Specter, is vital to stopping tax increases, passage of card check and the Obama big spending plans.

Even today- today- Arlen Specter couldn't bring himself to say that he changed parties because his perspective or (as is much more commonly claimed) the perspective of his old party changed (the popular "I have not left the party, the party has left me" line). He declared

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

Apparently, Specter will not be given the chairmanship of any committee. Nevertheless, The Washington Post reports

Specter will receive his seniority among Democrats as if he had been elected as a Democrat in 1980, when he rode into office on the coattails of Ronald Reagan's conservative revolution. That effectively means Specter will become chairman of a key subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee, likely the one overseeing the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

A Democratic opponent of the Employee Fair Choice Act- and he may become a key figure overseeing the Department of Labor. Rising unemployment, declining job benefits, a diminishing middle class; and Barack Obama reportedly has pledged his support- against any possible Democratic challenge- to a Senator who has generally supported legislation to make all that possible. Disgraceful.

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