Kurtz: Specter stiffed his constituents

posted at 1:40 pm on April 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Party switching has become such an accepted political game that the ethical considerations of the Arlen Specter Switcheroo, as Rick Moran calls it, didn’t get much attention.  Howard Kurtz calls himself a “contrarian” today in wondering why the media didn’t discuss how Specter betrayed his Pennsylvania constituents, who may have wanted a Republican in the seat for a reason:

The Pennsylvania senator says he will continue to follow his conscience, but he has just stiffed the voters of his state, the way every opportunistic party-switcher does. A majority of them voted for a Republican to represent them in D.C. for six years, and suddenly they’ve got a Democrat who will work with Obama’s party.

Jeffords did it in 2001. Richard Shelby did it in 1994, one day after the Republicans seized control of the Senate, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell the following year, thus giving them the added clout of being in the majority.

Phil Gramm did it the right way in 1983. He quit the Democratic Party, resigned his House seat, ran for reelection as a Republican and won. The voters ratified his choice. …

Specter says the Republican Party has moved “far to the right,” and that may be true, but the obvious motive here is that he concluded he couldn’t beat Pat Toomey in next year’s GOP primary. (He admitted as much, calling his chances “bleak.”) So Pennsylvania voters will get a belated opportunity to accept or reject his move.

First, let’s deal with the canard that the GOP has moved “far to the right”.  When exactly did that happen?  When a Republican-controlled Congress, yoked to a Republican White House, grew federal spending by 50% in six years?  Would that be the GOP that created a new entitlement program for prescription medication?  The same Republicans that expanded spending above inflation on discretionary areas like education (58%), health research and regulation (55%), community and regional development (94%) and on entitlement programs like Medicare (51%)?

If that’s moving to the right, then I’m Chairman Mao.  It’s an absurd statement on its face.  The problem with the GOP hasn’t been that they moved to the right, it’s that they became Democrats and liked the media attention they got from it.  Specter just made it official yesterday.

That brings us back to the ethics question.  When a politician runs as a member of a particular party, shouldn’t they complete their term with that party?  Joe Lieberman didn’t switch affiliations until forced to do so for his independent re-election bid, for example, even though many in his own party turned against him.  Phil Gramm resigned and put the question to his constituents.  Howard has this right, and members of both caucuses should be scolded for switching mid-term, and especially for enticing members to switch.


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absolutely. and he doesnt care. its not even a “i had to do this, im so sorry, dont worry, ill have ur guys’ back later on” thing. he’s just an opportunist.

Drunk Report on April 29, 2009 at 1:43 PM

There’s a due process suit in here somewhere. Deprived of liberty maybe? As in voting for one cadidate and getting another (in terms of his policies and party).

Meric1837 on April 29, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Your KIDDING! The Specter Stiffy!

So thats what its called,screwing over those that voted
for Arlene!

canopfor on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Real key is that it looks like under Pennsylvania rules he COULD have switched to Independent, NOT had any Primary, and run in the General…

Law only seems to exclude you if you Lose a Primary.

So, his switch to the Dems was all about Power, and getting their support, not aboout principal.

Romeo13 on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

u have just been slapped with the glove, PA voters. watcha gonna do about it?

Buckaroo on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

How much money did the GOP raise for him in the last election cycle? They should demand repayment.

hawksruleva on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

In Specter’s case, what about the fact that everyone knew he was a D in R clothing. So now he takes his clothes off. Who cares?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM

It looks like PA got an obamanation incident.

seven on April 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM

In Specter’s case, what about the fact that everyone knew he was a D in R clothing. So now he takes his clothes off. Who cares?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM

Dam…. putting that menatl image in my head was just evil….

Romeo13 on April 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM

The Republican party moved left, and the voters decided to go with the party that likes big government and says they know how to run it, instead of the one that likes big government but says it doesn’t work.

BadgerHawk on April 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Nah, I have been told that Specter is our mole inside the Democratic Party. shhh, don’t tell anyone.

faraway on April 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM

u have just been slapped with the glove, PA voters. watcha gonna do about it?

Buckaroo on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Murtha and President Obama slapped the state much harder and they both won.

BadgerHawk on April 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Specter was elected by Republicans to promote PA voters interests, not Arlen Specters interests. Somehow this responsibility has gotten lost in Washington.

ctmom on April 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Couldn’t the RNC demand the money they put towards his campaign back? Make the Dems pay for it.

Also, those who individually contributed.

stenwin77 on April 29, 2009 at 1:49 PM

“BadgerHawk on April 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM”

sigh — i hate it when yer right …

Buckaroo on April 29, 2009 at 1:50 PM

That moving too far to the right thing might be an absurd statement, but it something that the uninformed will believe, which is why it is said.

myrenovations on April 29, 2009 at 1:51 PM

How much money did the GOP raise for him in the last election cycle? They should demand repayment.

hawksruleva on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

I like that. Any good legal minds out there willing to tackle it?
Maybe if these turncoats have to repay the party they’re leaving they’ll think twice. After all it’s only for personal power and monetary gain that they’re in politics in the first place.

oldernwiser on April 29, 2009 at 1:51 PM

If that’s moving to the right, then I’m Chairman Mao

welcome COMRADE!! I see you have joined the winning side!!!

Viva La Revolution!!!

right4life on April 29, 2009 at 1:51 PM

The Republican party moved left, and the voters decided to go with the party that likes big government and says they know how to run it, instead of the one that likes big government but says it doesn’t work.

BadgerHawk on April 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM

+1000. Authenticity counts for a lot. When it comes to Big Govenment, accept no substitutes.

Mr. D on April 29, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Actually, it’s the first time Specter’s been stiff in years.

rbj on April 29, 2009 at 1:54 PM

I miss Phil Gramm.

Asher on April 29, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Dam…. putting that menatl image in my head was just evil….

Romeo13 on April 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Sorry. It’s been a rough day.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 29, 2009 at 1:54 PM

First, let’s deal with the canard that the GOP has moved “far to the right”.

When I read that sentence I thought, whoa, did AP just say that? Laughed out loud when I checked and sure enough it was Ed.

JiangxiDad on April 29, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Well done Ed!

TheBigOldDog on April 29, 2009 at 1:57 PM

How’s that lawsuit of Coleman’s in MN looking to you now, oh mighty geniuses who wanted me and other Minnesotans dead because of the voting of the left , transient and deadbeats who we voted hard against?

MNDavenotPC on April 29, 2009 at 1:58 PM

People in PA should start a new group called:

“People who voted for Specter and got screwed”

izoneguy on April 29, 2009 at 1:59 PM

First, let’s deal with the canard that the GOP has moved “far to the right”. When exactly did that happen? When a Republican-controlled Congress, yoked to a Republican White House, grew federal spending by 50% in six years? Would that be the GOP that created a new entitlement program for prescription medication? The same Republicans that expanded spending above inflation on discretionary areas like education (58%), health research and regulation (55%), community and regional development (94%) and on entitlement programs like Medicare (51%)?

The pathetic and ironic truth here is that the GOP by moving to the left on spending has actually aided in its own demise. The electorate, once being given an entitlement, is not going to willingly give it up! Thus, republicans unwittingly aided in the growth of the democratic party. Conservatives are the boogy men because they want to take away the handouts given to them the last 8 years, by republicans. The voters are not dummies. They are going to preserve what they’ve gained from the government.

KickandSwimMom on April 29, 2009 at 2:00 PM

How much money did the GOP raise for him in the last election cycle? They should demand repayment.

hawksruleva on April 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM

I agree. Any politician that does this switcheroo crap, needs to pay back, what they took. The people need to hold these swappers accountable.

capejasmine on April 29, 2009 at 2:02 PM

First, let’s deal with the canard that the GOP has moved “far to the right”. When exactly did that happen?

Yeah, that one’s a head scratcher. Libs are always saying that the GOP in the ’80s was the party of The Religious Right. In the ’90s it was the party of Balanced-Budget Newt.

The current GOP is to the right of them? I don’t think so.

29Victor on April 29, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Richard Shelby did it in 1994, one day after the Republicans seized control of the Senate

Is there more to this story than that? Switching parties the day after an election seems pretty brazen.

YYZ on April 29, 2009 at 2:04 PM

Switching parties after an election is like your spouse getting a sex change operation.

You might have had your suspicions, but you still feel betrayed and fooled.

kurtzz3 on April 29, 2009 at 2:04 PM

Actually, it’s the first time Specter’s been stiff in years.

rbj on April 29, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Probably rigor mortis setting in. The old kook looks like he’s just about dead anyway.

UltimateBob on April 29, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Why does Phil Graham always look like a turtle?

lorien1973 on April 29, 2009 at 2:07 PM

Its the Liberal Deception/Perception Game!

Well,ya know,the Liberal Party is smack dab dead centre,
but the Republican Party,

has goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooone
waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay
to the,
Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!

Nice try Liberals and MSM!!(Sarc).

canopfor on April 29, 2009 at 2:07 PM

specter is a fraud, cheat, liar and a whole lot more *adjectives* to call him.
I hope the good folks of PA will realize that our Government is (out of control), and will help us rid the very same politicians who have gotten us into this FUBAR!.

Boot his ass out of DC.
Let’s us clean out the RINO”S in 2010!!?

hawkman on April 29, 2009 at 2:09 PM

So now he takes his clothes off. Who cares?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM

Arrrgh, my eyes, my eyes!!!

MarkTheGreat on April 29, 2009 at 2:16 PM

When a politician runs as a member of a particular party, shouldn’t they complete their term with that party?

Maybe, maybe not. I would suggest that part of that question is answered by the reasons behind it. There are principled reasons for changing parties- not that this is one of those cases. Campbell changed to keep his leadership position. Jeffords jumped because he was in a snit with the White House. Specter did it because he’s a damned liberal traitor who is using the filthy liar’s administration as a convenient excuse to leave (plus the polls show he’d be toast in the next election were he to keep up the farce of being a Republican).

THE DEMOCRATS ARE WELCOME TO THE NASTY OLD BASTARD. SPECTER, HOWEVER, SHOULD REIMBURSE THE GOP FOR EVERY DIME THEY EVER SPENT ON THE TRAITOR’S ELECTIONS.

highhopes on April 29, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Specter makes it clear who he’s interested in “serving”… himself.

T J Green on April 29, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Specteer illustrates exactly what is wrong with politicians these days. Their goal is not about representing the folks who elected them, it’s totally about the politician and his inflated ego. TERM LIMITS

bloggless on April 29, 2009 at 2:25 PM

There is more blame to go around.

It’s a three way blame game
1) It’s on the elected official changing parties.
2) It’s on the majority party accepting this change.
3) It’s on the majority leadership placing the turncoat.

The Senate sullies its reputation every time it accepts this changing midterm. The only proper course of action is the Phil Gramm method. Resign and put the change to the voters. If they approve, you wash your hands, you’re clean.

gabriel sutherland on April 29, 2009 at 2:34 PM

How dumb is our electorate when we constantly elect self promoting jerks like just about all Illinois dems, Murthas, Specters, Obamas, and the rest over and over again?
I can’t fathom the utter lazines, stupidity and recklessness of our citizens.
I live in a city where its as blue as blue can be, and when the newsies here break a big story on corruption (just about weekly) people blame the politicians! I want to cry out “HEY IDIOTS, WE PUT THEM THERE!”

ChicagoBlues on April 29, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Let’s hope that the PA voters are smart enough to turn him out of office, regardless of party affiliation. When Cap and Trade hits the books, PA residents will be one of the hardest hit, especially the “rednecks” in Murtha’s district who depend on the coal industry for their livlihood. Let’s let Benedict Arlen and His Corpulence defend that to their constituency.

College Prof on April 29, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Now that it’s obvious that he isn’t what his constituents thought he was, the name Alien Sphincter really does seem to fit him well.

Patrick S on April 29, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Its not like this came as a surprise. Specter has been a known quantity self server. Political power run amuck. There are very few in congress who are truly for the people.

kerncon on April 29, 2009 at 2:52 PM

The last honorable man?

Gramm?

You have got to be kidding me.

MB4 on April 29, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Losing Specter is not a good thing in the Short Term and I do feel betrayed. With all of the support Republicans have given him in the past, especially in 2004, he tucks tail and runs when a poll on a distant primary looks bad for him. He is 79 years old and has spent decades in the Senate, yet he still pulls something like this.

The Republicans need to stick to their principles but at the same time we do need a bigger tent, no question about it. We just need some real leadership to rally these spineless RINOs around the cause or else they will drift.

I don’t know what his polls showed him but I find it hard to believe that he will just walk through a Demcoratic primary. Why shuld they vote for him? Why should they trust them and who the hell wants him? I truly do think that Toomey has a better chance than ever to win Pennsylvania for the GOP. I saw hin on TV, he’s impressive and he doesn’t have to run a hard right primary campaign to take down Specter. He can focus solely on economic issues and try to peel away votes in the philly suburbs.

So inthe long term, this might not be such a bad thing.

Daemonocracy on April 29, 2009 at 3:00 PM

MB4: On the subject of changing parties, yes Phil Gramm is an honorable man.

gabriel sutherland on April 29, 2009 at 3:10 PM

The majority of party switchers appear to be going from Democrat to Republican. The only exceptions are Bernie Sanders (Socialist) and Joe Lieberman (Independent).

I am fond of saying professional politicians represent themselves first, second and third. Constituents come dead last.

No professional politician has an ounce of honor, regardless of the party.

SeniorD on April 29, 2009 at 3:15 PM

You have all been “ex-spector-ated.

TimothyJ on April 29, 2009 at 3:32 PM

I’m sorry to disagree with Ed this time. We don’t have a parliamentary government; we vote for individuals, not parties. I don’t like that Specter switched, but I don’t think the practice is inherently evil. Hopefully the people in Pennsylvania will dislike it enough to not re-elect him in 2010.

The really ridiculous thing is that the RNC and then President Bush supported Specter in the primary in 2004. Had they not, we’d be supporting Toomey for reelection instead of this ridiculous situation.

Jens on April 29, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Why does Phil Graham always look like a turtle?

lorien1973 on April 29, 2009 at 2:07 PM

I’ve never thought of Gramm as a turtle, but he reminds me of a law-school prof of mine, whom I often described as turtle-like in appearance.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 29, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Ed: “That brings us back to the ethics question”

Ed, ed.

these are democrats we are talking about.

quit pretending ethics are even a consideration

notagool on April 29, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Can we impeach Specter using Scottish law?

ricer1 on April 29, 2009 at 4:58 PM

When they say Republicans have moved to the right, they are not talking about spending. It is more general than that.

And as for spending, not even Reagan was a fiscal conservative. In fact in terms of deficits as a percentage of GDP he rivals Bush or outpaces him.

But the truth is times have changed and people are just not as excited about social issues as they were and so people seem to think Republicans have moved to the right on that, and really in a lot of ways the country has moved left on social issues.

But what Specter did was underhanded and dishonest and it was a disservice to his constituents. I wonder if he will win, or if maybe people will think less of him for this and give someone the seat?

Terrye on April 29, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Let’s us clean out the RINO”S in 2010!!?

hawkman on April 29, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Why stop at the RINOs?

Why not get them ALL cleaned out and keep doing it for a few election cycles?

belad on April 30, 2009 at 11:39 AM