March 2, 2009

A Specter Is Haunting America

Hatched by Dafydd

Kudos to W. James Antle, III, online editor of the American Spectator, for the absolute best Sen. Arlen Specter (RINO-PA, 40%) title of the week-end: "the Specter That Haunts Conservatives."

Alas, Antle got it slightly wrong; I have corrected it in the title to this post. Antle blew the obvious because he was unable (or afraid) to draw the obvious conclusion: When a Republican ceases to vote with the party even on the most critical, bedrock, GOP issues -- such as the porkapalooza "stimulus" package and TARP II (pure, unadulterated socialism possibly leading to Venezuela-style nationalization of the banking system) and potentially even the "card check" legislation (forced unionization of workplaces, whether the workers want it or not) -- then it's time to dump that Republican in a primary, even if that means a more liberal Democrat is elected.

Why swap King Log for King Stork? Four reasons:

  1. Even if Specter votes with us on a small handful of less important issues, his presence so muddies the GOP message that it will sap the strength of the party for many election cycles, resulting in a much more catastrophic ultimate collapse than if we simply amputated the gangrenous limb right now.

You can't beat something with nothing. Socialism has a well-defined philosophy of governance -- "Everything inside the State, nothing outside the State," as Mussolini put it -- and their agenda flows directly from that. They have their economic theorists (from Keynes all the way to Marx), their military theorists (from Pelosi all the way to Murtha), and their political theorists (from Ayers and Alinsky to Hillary to Samantha Power to Rahm Emanuel).

If Republicans present muddled messages; if they talk about fiscal responsibility but vote for wildly irresponsible budgets; if they say they support freedom of choice but vote to eliminate the secret ballot in union elections; if they say the most urgent foreign-policy task is to defeat terrorists and Communist extremists, but then they vote to confirm cabinet officials who attack Israel, who apologize for America acting in America's interest, and who kow-tow to Iran, North Korea, and Russia... then how can we possibly ask voters to throw out the Democrats and vote for us? Voters don't even know what Republicans stand for, other than saying No to all the "free money" that Democrats want to give everyone (well, everyone who is a reliable Democratic voter-donor, anyway).

Republicans like today's Arlen Specter make it virtually impossible for the GOP to get its message out -- because nobody within the GOP can reconcile the dichotomous messages of the different Republican factions. Some "diversity" of opinion is fine -- but not on bedrock Republican issues, such as a strong national defense, individual freedom, limited government, traditional moral values, and Capitalism. One by one, we must send the thunderous herd of RINOs packing.

  1. If Specter moves hard left yet still retains support from the Republican establishment, then won't he do it again and again, with every vote? If he's Arlen Specter today, he'll be Lincoln Chafee next year -- and Jumpin' Jim Jeffords the year after that.

Like in Texas Hold 'Em: If you've got nothing, but you call a raise anyway -- hoping to improve with the next card -- then what are you going to do the next round of betting, when your opponent raises again? You have fewer chances to win, but you're much more deeply invested than the last round, and you may feel even more desperate to defend your rotten hand.

At this point, the entire Republican establishment is lining up behind Specter; they have an awful lot invested in that one senator, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee and number-two Republican on Appropriations. So if next month, he is the swing vote that takes away free and fair union elections or opens the door to a return of the inaptly dubbed Fairness Doctrine, the GOP establishment will probably remain behind him.

And if later in the year, Specter provides the critical vote that brings about socialized health care, overturns the ban on partial-birth abortion, overturns the Defense of Marriage Act, or enacts a full-blown amnesty for illegal immigrants (not merely the plea-bargain authored by McCain), well, the committee heads, the minority leader, and Party Chairman Michael Steele will probably be "pot committed" to back him even then. They'll tell Pat Toomey, Specter's likely rival in the GOP primary in Pennsylvania, to go boil his head... despite the fact (or because of it) that Toomey nearly bumped off Specter in the 2004 GOP primary.

And then what do they do when, immediately after winning reelection in 2010, Specter turns his coat and becomes a Democrat -- but doesn't change any of his positions? How can the Republican establishment justify dropping their support for old Arlen?

Specter must be sent packing now, in the 2010 primary... even if the Republican candidate loses. We won't be any worse off on the most critical issues than we are right now.

  1. The establishment likes Specter because they believe he will be more electable than any conservative replacement on the ticket; but it's actually an open question whether Specter is electable at all today.

For one thing, he has so alienated Pennsylvania Republicans that he will almost certainly get a much smaller percentage of the GOP vote this time than back in 2004. At the same time, the Democratic registration edge over Republicans in that state has doubled. Even if Specter goes heavily liberal, he won't be as acceptable to the Left as whoever is the Democratic nominee: In a race between a Democrat and a "Democrat," the Democrat usually wins.

I think it boils down to this. I believe 2010 will be an expectedly unexpectedly Republican year: Expectedly because it's an off-year election, and those usually result in election losses for the incumbent party; unexpectedly because everyone and his monkey's uncle seems to believe that Democrats are now and will remain invincible for the next thirty years.

I don't accept the latter meme. I believe that public reaction will be very strongly negative to the socialist agenda of President Barack H. Obama and the corrupt and incompetent congressional Democrats. I believe we will end up winning a number of races that are written off as hopeless now... but only if we have a candidate who is not compromised by his own complicity.

If, on the other hand, I'm wrong, and it's not a Republican year -- then Specter is toast as well. So what difference does it make? We need to give Specter the boot in the primary, and the Republican leadership should lead the way; thus we'll be ready if 2010 is a better year than expected -- and poised if the turnaround year is 2012 or 2014, instead.

  1. "Pour l'encouragement des autres," as I believe Voltaire said.

This one is really simple: If we can knock off an old warhorse like Arlen Specter for deviating too far from mainstream Republicanism -- even if his conservative replacement on the ticket loses the general election -- that will put the fear of God (or at least the fear of GOP) in other putative "moderate" Republicans. If Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 67%), or Dick Lugar (R-IN, 60%), or Susan Collins (R-ME, 30% !), or Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 28% !!!) is defeated in a primary election, it doesn't help the dumpee if the Democrat subsequently wins the general election; dumpee is still out pounding the pavement, perhaps holding a sign reading "will compromise ethics for praise in the Times."

To quote Bill Clinton (talking to some other jackanapes), It's time for Arlen Specter to go. It's time for the Republican conference to grow a spine and back strong challengers, whenever the incrumbent Republican does nothing but give ammunition to the Democrats. It's time for Republicans to pay as much attention to party loyalty as the Democrats do: We should not allow officeholders to call themselves Republicans when they disagree with American GOP voters on the most fundamental aspects of Republicanism.

It's time, in short, for Republicans to stop being the "party of orderly succession" and become "the party of consistency, clarity, and honesty."

It's only then, I believe, that we can become "the party of winning elections" once more.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 2, 2009, at the time of 5:52 PM

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The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Your specific advice is very sound. The GOP "establishment" needs to rally around the message and start enforcing some "party discipline" on these renegades. But the very real danger is that you cannot be somebody with nobody. If all we do is "throw the RINOs out of the Party" we will soon find ourselves with no one to talk to. Everybody is somebody's "RINO" unless we reserve that term for the very special circumstances of egregious and repeated offense to basic Party principles (assuming we know what those are).

In the case of Specter, the term obviously fits, and the GOP should go on record NOW as saying he will not be supported if the Penn State GOP puts forward a credible challenger. The national GOP should not be tinkering in state party choices, but must also make their own principled choices about where to spend national GOP time and money.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 3, 2009 6:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

As far as dumping Arlen now, (Pennsylvania needs to "Ex-Spectorate") the minority leaders still control
which (sub)committees a Senator is assigned to.
Either assign him to none, or put him on the bottom of the heap. Let him complain, the louder the
better. With a little luck, the Democrats will stick their noses into things and assign him to a good spot. Come Primary time, his opponent can point to his Democrat support all day long.

The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2009 11:41 PM

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