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  #1  
Old 04-28-2009, 12:50 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default 60! 60! 60!

I'm sure you've heard the news already. This is pretty exciting stuff. I like John Cole's take:

Quote:
And on a serious note, I think this is how party switching should be done. At the end of the term and then run on the ticket with your new party, not right after an election. Additionally, the weirdest thing about being a Democrat is I don’t feel any different than I did when I was a Republican, other than that I no longer have to make excuses for crazy and stupid people.
http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=20528
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  #2  
Old 04-28-2009, 01:25 PM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Looks like Specter will probably face off against Pat Toomey in the next general election. I can see why Specter wanted to change parties, he would not be able to win against Toomey in the Republican primaries, but will stomp him in a general election.

This is a good case for illustrating the weakness of having primaries. People that will do good in a primary are often to extreme to appeal to independents.

For a good look at Toomey's voting record that gives a little bit of context:
http://www.ontheissues.org/PA/Pat_Toomey.htm
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  #3  
Old 04-28-2009, 01:37 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Snowe and Collins might as well make the switch now too. They're not any more conservative than Specter is, and I'm sure they'd feel more productive and have an easier time of it being in the majority.
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  #4  
Old 04-28-2009, 03:38 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Olympia Snowe says:

Quote:
So far, she said, she’s staying put. "I believe in the traditional tenets of the Republican Party: strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual opportunity. I haven’t abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles.
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  #5  
Old 04-28-2009, 05:20 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Except for POSSIBLY the short term advantage of having an extra Democrat in the Senate*, I think this is bad news for the Democrats.

Now, instead of having an excellent chance of having a new Democratic Senator from PA in 2010 -- a real Democrat -- we are facing the probability of getting a lifelong conservative Republican.

How is that supposed to help the causes we believe in?


*How much of a short-term advantage it will be is unclear. Are we going to give Specter chairmanship of a committee or two? A conservative Republican? Again, I'm not clear how that helps the Democratic agenda.
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  #6  
Old 04-28-2009, 05:29 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Except for POSSIBLY the short term advantage of having an extra Democrat in the Senate*, I think this is bad news for the Democrats.

Now, instead of having an excellent chance of having a new Democratic Senator from PA in 2010 -- a real Democrat -- we are facing the probability of getting a lifelong conservative Republican.

How is that supposed to help the causes we believe in?


*How much of a short-term advantage it will be is unclear. Are we going to give Specter chairmanship of a committee or two? A conservative Republican? Again, I'm not clear how that helps the Democratic agenda.
Specter is actually a former Democratic Philadelphia DA who became a Republican for exactly the same reason he's now becoming a Democrat - expediency. He's also well north of seventy years old and is a cancer survivor. PA is trending blue - the followup to Specter will, assuming current trends, be a Democrat. What he's done is make Toomey irrelevant. I've never voted for the SOB before - I almost certainly will in the next election. (He'll sail through the Democratic primary.)
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  #7  
Old 04-28-2009, 05:36 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Except for POSSIBLY the short term advantage of having an extra Democrat in the Senate*, I think this is bad news for the Democrats.

Now, instead of having an excellent chance of having a new Democratic Senator from PA in 2010 -- a real Democrat -- we are facing the probability of getting a lifelong conservative Republican.

How is that supposed to help the causes we believe in?


*How much of a short-term advantage it will be is unclear. Are we going to give Specter chairmanship of a committee or two? A conservative Republican? Again, I'm not clear how that helps the Democratic agenda.
At least Specter will be on his best behavior until the primary comes.
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:01 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
Specter is actually a former Democratic Philadelphia DA
Ah, very interesting. Thanks for the correction.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
...who became a Republican for exactly the same reason he's now becoming a Democrat - expediency.
Exactly. His switch back to the Democratic Party is reflects his awareness of his twin dilemmas: His difficulty winning a primary in a party increasingly composed of wingnuts, and his difficulty winning the general election in a state increasingly composed of Democrats.

Basically, he's pulling a Lieberman-like move to avoid defeat.



Quote:
Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
I've never voted for the SOB before - I almost certainly will in the next election. (He'll sail through the Democratic primary.)
That's the weirdest thing about this: people who've always voted against him will now be voting for him, and vice versa. Same guy, same beliefs, but a brand new constituency. (Of course, I'm sure there are a lot of people who voted for him as a Republican and will vote for him against as a Democrat.)

This does illustrate another point, however: As the Republican Party shifts to the right, it is dragging the Democratic Party along with it. In some ways, this can be counted as a good thing. But personally, I would prefer a real Democrat to Specter.
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  #9  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:03 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
At least Specter will be on his best behavior until the primary comes.
Yeah, probably. The advantage is entirely short term, I believe. But even then I have my doubts, if it means giving him control over an important committee.

The moronic media keeps reporting that this will give the Democrats the votes they need to break filibusters -- as if it works that way.
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  #10  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:16 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
I'm sure you've heard the news already. This is pretty exciting stuff. I like John Cole's take:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=20528
I hadn't, being AFK for a while, so thanks for posting this. A great thing to come back to.

I loved how John flipped Grover Norquist's line around.
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  #11  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:39 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Well, I think you can always look at it from the viewpoint of who is going to stand in the way of progressive legislation. Although the reality is more complicated, I think there is something to be said for the viewpoint that by joining the Democratic Party, he will be less likely to stand in the way of progressive stuff that he might not fully endorse.
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  #12  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:51 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
The moronic media keeps reporting that this will give the Democrats the votes they need to break filibusters -- as if it works that way.
And from earlier:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Basically, he's pulling a Lieberman-like move to avoid defeat.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
That's the weirdest thing about this: people who've always voted against him will now be voting for him, and vice versa. Same guy, same beliefs, ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
This does illustrate another point, however: As the Republican Party shifts to the right, it is dragging the Democratic Party along with it.
I'm surprised at your cynicism and lack of enthusiasm, Twin. While I don't think your reaction is without merit, let me offer the positive (spin) take, based only on reading that John Cole post and my memory of Specter.

It is possible he's going Holy Joe to deal with Toomey's challenge. It's also possible to see this as a smart political calculation rather than a move of desperation (the way Lieberman's was); i.e., why have a bruising and expensive battle if you don't have to? On a related note, while it would be nice to think that a liberal Democrat could beat him in the general, I am with Jeff in thinking Specter wins there no matter what capital letter comes after his name.

As to the filibuster issue: I agree that it's not a slam dunk. However, it's very likely that it means, at least on some pieces of legislation, a vote that the Dems don't have to work to get anymore, which means another measurable amount of watering down that they don't have to do.

As to the "same guy, same beliefs" idea, my sense of Specter is that he has on any number of occasions given a clear sign that he has voted the party line against his conscience. Specific examples don't come to mind right now, and I'll do some Googling if you insist, but I'm sure about this instinct. I expect that Specter will make us happy with his voting from here on out, more often than note.

And on a related note, and to address your Dems-moving-to-the-right concern, I'll say this: It is my sense that, since 2006, the core of the Democratic Party has been developing more confidence in pushing on issues that lefties care about and that they are more willing to stick to their guns in battles over these. Not perfectly, by any stretch, but better. In particular, they seem to be happy to rally around Obama when he makes a "this much and no further" statement on something like health-care legislation. (I am speaking here of his insistence that the reconciliation process be included in the road map to getting a bill passed.)

I also believe that rather than the core of the Democratic Party moving to the right, what we're seeing here is the GOP on a crazy plunge off a far-right cliff, with some more moderate Republicans and conservatives looking for shelter under the edge of the Democratic big tent. This is a good way to implement the theme of unifying the country that Obama ran on -- rather than trying to get every last person to go along (and have to compromise too much), you write off, say, the unyielding 20%, and concentrate on working with the rest.

To invoke another cliché, this could be seen as another case not of a man leaving a party, but a party leaving him. Presumably, you did not view Zell Miller's stunt in 2004 as an indication that the GOP was moving leftward.

So, yeah. This isn't an unalloyed come-to-Jesus move on Specter's part, and in an ideal world, we'd think about a more solidly liberal Democrat replacing him in 2010. But in the spirit of politics as the art of the possible, I find a lot to be happy about in today's news.

Final thought: in saying "come-to-Jesus," I just had a dark thought flit through my mind. I saw Specter come close to making this switch when he was first diagnosed with cancer. I wonder if he has the sense that he is in the home stretch of his life, and is less concerned about reelection than he is about setting some things right in the (short) time he has remaining. I hasten to say that I am not basing this on any news that I've heard along these lines, but I thought I'd throw it out there, maybe just to have someone else shoot it down.
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  #13  
Old 04-28-2009, 07:11 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
But even then I have my doubts, if it means giving him control over an important committee.
FWIW, from the WaPo (page 2):

Quote:
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, probably the one overseeing the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Specter also acknowledged that becoming full appropriations committee chairman -- something that could take another six to 10 years -- "is something I'd like to attain."
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  #14  
Old 04-28-2009, 07:15 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by graz View Post
More from Snowe and Collins, from page 2 of a WaPo article:

Quote:
Other moderate Republicans acknowledged they, too, have been approached about changing parties. Sen. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the Maine Republicans who along with Specter provided the three pivotal votes for Obama's $787 billion stimulus legislation, both said today they have been approached. Neither would comment about how recent the overtures were, although Collins said she has been asked roughly four times during her 12 years in the Senate to consider becoming a Democrat.

"It's something I would never do," she said.

Snowe called Specter's decision "devastating news" for Republicans, particularly Northeastern Republicans who have almost vanished in the Senate during the past decade. "Many Republicans feel alienated and disaffected from the party," Snowe said. "It just helps nourish a culture of exclusion and alienation."
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  #15  
Old 04-28-2009, 08:35 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer View Post
I think there is something to be said for the viewpoint that by joining the Democratic Party, he will be less likely to stand in the way of progressive stuff that he might not fully endorse.
This is possible, and it's the short-term benefit to the Democrats I was saying is the only upside to Specter's party switch. But Specter has already indicated he's going to vote with the reactionary extremist party on card check, and "Obama's pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen."

Specter is going to be one more of exactly the kind of Democrat we don't need. I'll grant that he'll be nominally better as a Democrat than as a Republican, but that benefit expires in January, 2011, which is when we otherwise would have replaced him with a genuine Democrat.
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  #16  
Old 04-28-2009, 09:00 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
This is possible, and it's the short-term benefit to the Democrats I was saying is the only upside to Specter's party switch. But Specter has already indicated he's going to vote with the reactionary extremist party on card check, and "Obama's pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen."

Specter is going to be one more of exactly the kind of Democrat we don't need. I'll grant that he'll be nominally better as a Democrat than as a Republican, but that benefit expires in January, 2011, which is when we otherwise would have replaced him with a genuine Democrat.
He's the 60th vote. He can vote against everything as long has he doesn't vote for a filibuster. Expect a lot of bullshit kabuki, but not any obstruction. He's gonna have a primary in a year.
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  #17  
Old 04-28-2009, 10:37 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
I'm surprised at your cynicism
You don't think Specter's motives were mainly selfish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
It is possible he's going Holy Joe to deal with Toomey's challenge.
Indeed — at least if you believe his own explanation for his switch.

Josh Marshall:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMM
Whatever else you can say about Specter today, this press conference is pretty entertaining and refreshingly candid. He just said he saw his internal poll numbers on Friday, jumped on Tuesday.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
It's also possible to see this as a smart political calculation rather than a move of desperation (the way Lieberman's was)
Those aren't mutually exclusive. An act taken out of desperation can also be a smart political calculation. Lieberman's move was more desperate, as you suggest, but the motivation was the same: political survival. And both men found the same solution: dispose of their traditional constituencies in search of a plurality of votes differently composed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
it would be nice to think that a liberal Democrat could beat him in the general, I am with Jeff in thinking Specter wins there no matter what capital letter comes after his name.
This is exactly why Specter jumped to the Democratic Party: He can win in the general, but would never make it to the general running as a Republican.

Eric Kleefeld:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TPMDC
Remember that Specter only won his 2004 primary against conservative challenger Toomey by a 51%-49% margin -- and that was with the full backing of the Bush White House. So if we just made that demographic adjustment, Pat Toomey would have probably won the 2004 primary with all other issues being the same. And the stimulus is the final nail. The stimulus vote, and the lack of a powerful Republican establishment these days, made a defeat in the primary seemingly inevitable.

A Rasmussen poll from just a few days ago put Toomey ahead by a 51%-30% margin. Specter was viewed unfavorably by 55% of the GOP electorate, compared to only 42% favorable. The pollster's analysis also pointed out that 79% of them had a favorable view of the Tea Parties -- not exactly a receptive audience for a pro-stimulus Senator. This was the first poll since Toomey officially got in, but other polls before that also showed Specter way below 50%, with a high undecided number, and the only question was whether Toomey could pick enough support to pull ahead.

And finally, it's important to remember another aspect of Pennsylvania politics: If he had run in the Republican primary and lost, he would not have been able to pull a Joe Lieberman and run as an independent. They have a "Sore-Loser Law" that forbids that very maneuver. So his choices other than retirement were to run as a Republican and probably lose the primary, run as an independent and face some serious structural disadvantages, or to take a chance on going over to the Democrats. And given those sets of probabilities, switching to the Dems became the obvious choice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
As to the filibuster issue: I agree that it's not a slam dunk.
Yes, it's absolutely not. Check out this irresponsible reporting by Chris Cillizza:

Quote:
Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in
Cillizza must truly be a stupid man to claim the Democrats will have a "filibuster proof majority." How can a political illiterate like him get a job writing for the Washington Post?

Reality:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrios
Crap

I hope this works out better than I expect, but 60 nominal Ds doesn't equal 60 votes. Specter's still free to be a dick in the Senate...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
However, it's very likely that it means, at least on some pieces of legislation, a vote that the Dems don't have to work to get anymore, which means another measurable amount of watering down that they don't have to do.
I suspect this is probably going to be true on at least a few votes. This is the short-term benefit for the Democrats. And it comes at an important time: the first two years of the Obama administration, when we need as many Democratic votes as we can get.

But we have given up the chance to put a real Democrat in that seat:

Atrios:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrios
Promises

Shuster just said that Dems promised not to field primary candidate against Specter.[...]

Craptacular.
Specter's going to have to cast a lot of votes for our side for this to be a good trade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
As to the "same guy, same beliefs" idea, my sense of Specter is that he has on any number of occasions given a clear sign that he has voted the party line against his conscience.
No, you're right. He's not a wingnut. He voted against impeachment (both counts), which is a key metric. He's said to have a good record on labor issues. He's not a global warming denier. It's not like if John Cornyn joined the party.

But your point is fair, and it raises a 2nd benefit to Specter's switch: it helps reinforce the growing understanding that the Republican Party as currently incarnated is too extreme. His switch may help other Republicans (voters and politicians) come to the same decision. And he might help some conservative extremists come to terms with the reality that their party is dead until they expand their appeal to moderates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
to address your Dems-moving-to-the-right concern, I'll say this: [...] the Democratic Party has been developing more confidence in pushing on issues that lefties care about and that they are more willing to stick to their guns in battles over these. [...] In particular, they seem to be happy to rally around Obama when he makes a "this much and no further" statement on something like health-care legislation.
I think this is true. At any given time, there are multiple currents in American politics -- some contradictory. Take PA, since we're already talking about it: One current has the state as a whole moving left. Another current has the Republican portion of PA's electorate moving to the right. Those are competing but simultaneously occurring political currents.

You're right that Obama's election has, in important ways, improved the chances for implementing a progressive agenda. But Specter's addition to the Democratic Party inherently makes it more conservative than it would be without him. Competing yet simultaneous political currents.

A political party is the sum of its parts, and if you build a Democratic Party out of Arlen Specters and Ben Nelsons, you're going to have a fundamentally different kind of Democratic Party than one built out of Tom Harkins and Russ Feingolds. A party led by Barack Obama is going to be more liberal. A party constituted to include Specter is going to be more conservative. Obama was a win for the liberal cause. Specter is a net setback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
what we're seeing here is the GOP on a crazy plunge off a far-right cliff, with some more moderate Republicans and conservatives looking for shelter under the edge of the Democratic big tent. This is a good way to implement the theme of unifying the country that Obama ran on -- rather than trying to get every last person to go along (and have to compromise too much), you write off, say, the unyielding 20%, and concentrate on working with the rest.
Sure. You're right. This is why I was in favor of keeping Lieberman in the Democratic caucus when many were calling for him to be booted out.

If a Lieberman or a Ben Nelson are the best we can do in their states, we should take them. But as soon as we can do better, we should do better. We should ditch both men at the earliest opportunity. If no opportunity arises, we should keep them.

We don't want to make the mistake of Republicans, insisting on ideological purity as an alternative to actual political power. But where it's possible to elect real Democrats, we should do it. We didn't have to settle for a conservative Republican from PA. We should have held out for something better. We basically blew a chance when we didn't need to. The Democrats already have a major problem with a moderate caucus. Specter will just make it worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
Presumably, you did not view Zell Miller's stunt in 2004 as an indication that the GOP was moving leftward.
No, of course not. As far as I can tell, Zell Miller doesn't have a leftward bone in his body. But if Lieberman had become a Republican, he would have made their party more liberal. For all of our problems with Lieberman, he's a solid liberal on most issues. (Which is why the Republican Party would have shattered into a million pieces if McCain had selected him for VP. Thus Palin, ROFL.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
and in an ideal world, we'd think about a more solidly liberal Democrat replacing him in 2010. But in the spirit of politics as the art of the possible, I find a lot to be happy about in today's news.
Okay, here's what we can be happy about:

(1) Some chance he'll vote with the Democrats more often.

(2) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, i.e., there's a small chance that a Pennsylvania would have elected Toomey in 2010.

(3) Specter's switch reinforces the growing public consensus that the Republican Party is too extreme, and the Democratic Party is the place for rational, sane, reality-based moderates and Independents, which could further increase Democratic ranks.
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  #18  
Old 04-28-2009, 10:44 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
He's the 60th vote. He can vote against everything as long has he doesn't vote for a filibuster. Expect a lot of bullshit kabuki, but not any obstruction.
Sure: there's a short-term advantage to having Specter in the caucus now, in that he might not obstruct the Democrats on some issues, though as far as I know, we have no guarantees. Still, Specter may make a concession here or there that could mean a hell of a lot to the country. For example, if he doesn't obstruct a national health care program. There's a pretty big difference between an America with national health care and an American without it, a difference that can be measured in lives (or corpses, if the Republicans prevail).


Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
He's gonna have a primary in a year.
I hope so, but it has been reported that the Democrats agreed to guarantee him the unchallenged nomination in 2010. So their Republican is now our Republican.
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Old 04-28-2009, 11:25 PM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
I hope so, but it has been reported that the Democrats agreed to guarantee him the unchallenged nomination in 2010. So their Republican is now our Republican.
Sure, they can guarantee an unchallenged nomination, but they can't stop anyone from running against him. Unless Specter's an idiot he's got to know that. And he because he knows that he's going to be on his best behavior. The only thing that keeps him from getting re-elected is a challenge from the left. Don't forget that Obama won PA in a landslide, and he's a black guy with a funny name.

This is all win for the good guys. Hell, even keeping Lieberman, as awful as that seemed just a few months ago, is looking really really good. If you wanna get all superstructural about this, the driving factor is that Pennsylvania and the country are changing for the better.

The bad news is we've got to get rid of the filibuster while we can. The Democrats are lucky to have seats in AK, ND, MT, AK, SD, NE. That's not going to last for too long.

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Old 04-28-2009, 11:27 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
(3) Specter's switch reinforces the growing public consensus that the Republican Party is too extreme, and the Democratic Party is the place for rational, sane, reality-based moderates and Independents, which could further increase Democratic ranks.
David Gergen compellingly makes the same point, tonight on CNN.
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  #21  
Old 04-29-2009, 12:06 AM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
[...]

The bad news is we've got to get rid of the filibuster while we can. The Democrats are lucky to have seats in AK, ND, MT, AK, SD, NE. That's not going to last for too long.
This reminds me of when Liberals were pushing to have some respected scientist to be able to define what should and should not be considered science (It would preempt local school boards). Sure, it sounds good in that situation, but I shudder to think what people like Palin would do with that new found power when they are in office.

I think it is prudent to take the long view on this, and not get rid of the filibuster. I am a firm believer that both parties create disasters when they are not forced to work and compromise with the other.

Last edited by Starwatcher162536; 04-29-2009 at 12:13 AM..
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  #22  
Old 04-29-2009, 12:14 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
Sure, they can guarantee an unchallenged nomination, but they can't stop anyone from running against him.
They cannot guarantee Specter will face no challenges, but the leadership of the Democratic Party in the state can exercise enormous if not determinative influence. The PA Democratic leadership was instrumental in Specter's switch, and will have near veto power over any primary challenge in 2010.


Quote:
Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
Unless Specter's an idiot he's got to know that. And he because he knows that he's going to be on his best behavior. The only thing that keeps him from getting re-elected is a challenge from the left.
Well put. And true. Per my initial post, Specter's switch provides the Democrats with a possible short-term benefit. You've described that possible short term benefit very well.


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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
This is all win for the good guys.
This is some win, but it's not all win. You don't get to all win by trading a Democrat (who we could have gotten in 2010) for a Republican. If Specter was our only choice, like Lieberman or Nelson, it would be a no-brainer: we'd want to take him. But we had better choices.

I don't know what your political orientation is. Maybe you're a kind of moderate person. If that's the case, I understand where you're coming from. Many of us, however, are unapologetically liberal, and would like to see liberal legislation enacted, and feel that currently the leading obstacle to that is blue dog Democrats. I share the desire for "more and better Democrats." With Specter's switch, we get one more Democrat than we would have otherwise, for 1.5 years. By the beginning of 2011, that benefit will expire, as we would have had one more Democrat by then anyway. That leaves the question of "better." And there can be little doubt that the "Democrat to be named later" we could have gotten would have been better than Specter suddenly dressed in blue.


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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
Hell, even keeping Lieberman, as awful as that seemed just a few months ago, is looking really really good.
I'm glad if people are coming around on this, but I have always been of the opinion that we need to live with the fact that we need Lieberman in our caucus.

I think the bad judgement many showed regarding Lieberman (wanting him kicked out of the caucus) and are showing now regarding Specter (celebrating his sudden inclusion) stems from the same problematic priorities: trading schadenfreude for actual political power. It would have been soooo satisfying for so many on the left to boot Lieberman they were willing to do it despite the cost to themselves. And likewise, many (like John Cole) are so overjoyed with the suffering Specter's switch is causing Republicans that they are insensitive to the possibility that we will actually be worse off (in the long run) as a consequence.


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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
If you wanna get all superstructural about this, the driving factor is that Pennsylvania and the country are changing for the better.
True, but I don't see how this makes Specter's switch good for us. If anything, it reinforces the point that we no longer need to have as many Specters in the Senate. When the country changes for the better, that means we dump Republicans and trade them in for Democrats.


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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
The bad news is we've got to get rid of the filibuster while we can.
It would be great, if we could manage it. A couple of months ago I assumed that media-augmented hissy fits from Republicans would preclude it as a possibility. But I have to admit: Republican hissy fits seem less potent than ever before. If ever there was a time to bring about real change, on this and other issues, this is it. And that's the best argument for accepting Specter into the party: it's one more ally at a critical time. By 2011, the political climate may have changed completely and our best chance to pass meaningful legislation passed.

Last edited by TwinSwords; 04-29-2009 at 12:19 AM..
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:15 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful response. I am glad that toward the end of your post, you listed a number of places where we more or less agree. I will just address some of the points you raised in dispute.

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Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
You don't think Specter's motives were mainly selfish?

[...]

Indeed — at least if you believe his own explanation for his switch.
I do think so, especially now that I have found out that he expressly stated that he did not think he could win a primary challenge. You have mostly changed my mind on this point. Still, I would at least like to think that Specter had ideological motivations as well -- distaste with the current drift of the core of the GOP, in particular -- and that his change of party is not wholly a ploy to get reelected. I think that now that he has made this move, he will vote more often how I would like him to vote. In other words, I'll take the benefits and not look too closely at the motives, in the same way that, say, I would welcome an evangelical Christian into the environmental fold if his or her primary concern was preserving God's green Earth.

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Those aren't mutually exclusive. An act taken out of desperation can also be a smart political calculation. Lieberman's move was more desperate, as you suggest, but the motivation was the same: political survival. And both men found the same solution: dispose of their traditional constituencies in search of a plurality of votes differently composed.
Among the differences between the two men, I'd point out this: Specter had the decency and honor to lay his cards on the table and make the switch ahead of time. Lieberman tried to win in one way; when that failed, he privileged himself to a second turn at bat.

Also, Lieberman spent much of the time after winning reelection doing and saying things that were in direct opposition to the Democratic Party, up to and including a full-time effort to get John McCain elected. We can only wait and see what Specter does from here on out, but I'd say Holy Joe has an established collection of black marks that puts him way ahead (or behind) on that score, at this point.

Quote:
Yes, it's absolutely not. Check out this irresponsible reporting by Chris Cillizza:

[...]

Cillizza must truly be a stupid man to claim the Democrats will have a "filibuster proof majority." How can a political illiterate like him get a job writing for the Washington Post?
Cillizza often writes at an irritatingly superficial level, no doubt about it. On the other hand, I don't think he's stupid. I think he sees his audience as the sort of person who wants to feel informed about politics without really being deeply interested in all the subtleties, so I can't completely fault him, looked at in that light. It's a job, and a man's gotta eat.

To a first approximation, he's right about the number 60. Of course it is more complicated than that, but not everyone wants to know that. What some people just want to know are the answers to the questions, "Why is everyone making so much noise? Why should I care about Arlen Specter switching sides?"

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But we have given up the chance to put a real Democrat in that seat:
I don't know enough about PA to say. You might be right. In the other hand, look at the guy who unseated Santorum, Bob Casey, Jr. Not what I would call a model "real Democrat." Maybe it's true that since 2006, PA has moved appreciably further to the left. Or maybe it's true that this really isn't so, and that Obama's appeal over McCain exaggerated the appearance.

In the end, there's nothing to be done about Specter's own personal interests as regards 2010, although who knows? We might see another Ned Lamont-style insurgency. Meantime, we might get a lot more accomplished in the eighteen months between now and then.

Quote:
You're right that Obama's election has, in important ways, improved the chances for implementing a progressive agenda. But Specter's addition to the Democratic Party inherently makes it more conservative than it would be without him. Competing yet simultaneous political currents.
Again, for the short term, I'm happier that Specter switched than I would be had he not. Especially since not switching might have meant he'd take every opportunity to appeal to the GOP extremists to try to improve his chances of winning in their primary.

As for the long term, well, yeah -- I agree that it makes the Democratic caucus in the Senate marginally more conservative, especially if Specter gets reelected. But on the other hand, this is a price we're going to have to pay for awhile as the GOP sheds its few remaining moderates. It'd be nice to tell everyone not already in the party, "Too bad, you're too late," but I'd rather look at this as part of the process of building more national unity on major problems like health care and global warming. Not to mention further strengthening the bulwark against the real GOP wingnuts.

So ...

Quote:
[...] Specter is a net setback.
I don't agree with this. Certainly not for the next 18 months, and maybe not after that.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:21 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 View Post
This reminds me of when Liberals were pushing to have some respected scientist to be able to define what should and should not be considered science (It would preempt local school boards). Sure, it sounds good in that situation, but I shudder to think what people like Palin would do with that new found power when they are in office.

I think it is prudent to take the long view on this, and not get rid of the filibuster. I am a firm believer that both parties create disasters when they are not forced to work and compromise with the other.
I don't know. We seemed to do pretty well during the intial 220 years of American history before the fillibuster was turned into an instrument of abuse and obstruction during the last 15 years. It has never in American history been a norm to demand 60 votes on every bill, and the Democrats are foolish if they put up with this new standard.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:26 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinSwords
(3) Specter's switch reinforces the growing public consensus that the Republican Party is too extreme, and the Democratic Party is the place for rational, sane, reality-based moderates and Independents, which could further increase Democratic ranks.
David Gergen compellingly makes the same point, tonight on CNN.
Ah, I love when the CW starts embracing our DFH views. Getting the Villagers to say things like this is a big win.

On a meta-note, how the hell did you find a video on YouTube that even as I visit it, only has 43 views? ARE YOU PART OF JOURNOLIST?
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:28 AM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by TwinSwords View Post
I don't know. We seemed to do pretty well during the intial 220 years of American history before the fillibuster was turned into an instrument of abuse and obstruction during the last 15 years. It has never in American history been a norm to demand 60 votes on every bill, and the Democrats are foolish if they put up with this new standard.
New standard or not, I am not crazy about the idea of a Republican controlled government in the future that is not held back by the filibuster.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:35 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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New standard or not, I am not crazy about the idea of a Republican controlled government in the future that is not held back by the filibuster.
That's not unreasonable, but I am going to side with the "do away with the filibuster" camp. Or, at least, call for some sort of change in how it's deployed. Maybe requiring it to be done the way it used to be -- someone actually has to get up there and speak non-stop -- would be a start. If nothing else, it lets the casual voter know more easily who is obstructing the majority from moving forward.

Another possibility is to change the magic number, say, to 55.

Exact solutions aside, where we are right now, where 41% have de facto veto power, can't be allowed to persist. There are too many problems that need real legislation passed to deal with them.

I also think that the GOP as they are currently acting cannot come close to winning a majority of the Senate. In order for them to win, they will need to make significant changes in their platform, priorities, and attitude. They will have to once and for all make clear that they are not in thrall to the religious extremist viewpoint and that they are not most concerned with how the know-nothings think of them. Therefore, I think your dark vision of Republicans (as they currently present) in charge isn't a realistic concern.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:37 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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New standard or not, I am not crazy about the idea of a Republican controlled government in the future that is not held back by the filibuster.
The Democrats were never able to bring the fillibuster to bear against the Republicans in any meaningful way, anyway, simply because of the way the party is constituted (i.e., a large Blue Dog faction). It has been the Republicans who have been so effective at using it to block Democratic action.

We just won the presidency by an historically large margin. We control both houses of Congress by very large margins. It would be political malpractice for Democrats to let a radical fringe of conservative extremists trump the will of the Ameircan people.
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:02 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Ah, I love when the CW starts embracing our DFH views. Getting the Villagers to say things like this is a big win.

On a meta-note, how the hell did you find a video on YouTube that even as I visit it, only has 43 views? ARE YOU PART OF JOURNOLIST?
LOL.

I happen to have a subscription to that channel that posted that particular video.
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:11 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Lincoln Chafee: GOP Not to Remain Viable National Party

Lincoln Chafee Feels the GOP is Not Going to Remain a Viable National Party
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:32 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Lincoln Chafee: GOP Not to Remain Viable National Party

Thanks for that.

Nice to see my old homeboy getting some face time, but cheese and rice ... have you ever seen someone less able to smile and look natural?

It's as though he just got out of his very his first media training class and overreacted to "Lesson 1: Try not to frown on camera."
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:12 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

Elections have consequences! I demand accountability! The filibuster and conference committees and whatnot let our representatives off the hook. Let the Democrats run wild (within the bounds of the Constitution, of course) and if the public doesn't like it, they can vote them out.
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:34 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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I don't know what your political orientation is. Maybe you're a kind of moderate person. If that's the case, I understand where you're coming from. Many of us, however, are unapologetically liberal, and would like to see liberal legislation enacted, and feel that currently the leading obstacle to that is blue dog Democrats. I share the desire for "more and better Democrats." With Specter's switch, we get one more Democrat than we would have otherwise, for 1.5 years. By the beginning of 2011, that benefit will expire, as we would have had one more Democrat by then anyway. That leaves the question of "better." And there can be little doubt that the "Democrat to be named later" we could have gotten would have been better than Specter suddenly dressed in blue.
Nope. Flaming liberal! I supported about eleven different (I just checked) "more and better Democrats," all through ActBlue, mostly through Kos's page. I have automatic monthly contributions set up for ActBlue too, because I'm a programmer, and I know that you gotta keep your programmers actively maintaining your software or it withers away.

The way I look at it is, you get a good chance to pass health care and energy/climate, you take it. Soon enough it'll become the new status quo, and when the Republicans come back they won't be in a position to roll it back because the country will have moved to a better equilibrium. Also, judges. Getting to 60 will sure speed up confirmations. I realize that a Democratic Senator could join with all 40 Republicans and filibuster, but you gotta imagine that'd be beyond the pale.

When you look at the Democrats in the Senate there's a lot to dislike, it's true, and another centrist like Specter isn't going to be writing a lot of great legislation. I've been trying to figure out who the median Senator is but I haven't been able to find a good source for current rankings.

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Old 04-29-2009, 02:35 AM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

For some reason this really does not bother me. Crazy ideas still have a buffer with centrist democrats, though not as much of one. It may be a bigger problem from Obama as the excuse not to yield to base pressures has been lessened because some magical 60 has been hit... in "theory"
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:56 AM
claymisher claymisher is offline
 
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Default Re: Lincoln Chafee: GOP Not to Remain Viable National Party

Just for kicks let's game this out. How do the Republicans fade away? I imagine a new party would start up in the northeast, led by successful local politicians running against Democrats in safe seats. They could go old school and call it the Federalist Party (although Whig Party would be more fun!). Maybe they get a little success, and Republicans on the west coast jump ship. I think the south stays Republican to the end. It'd be like Britain, where the Liberal Democrats only win in the southwest.

It's hard to imagine the first person to make that move. I can't think of any northeastern politicians that bold. Specter, Snowe, Collins, and Lieberman could have got together and done it.
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Old 04-29-2009, 05:41 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Lincoln Chafee: GOP Not to Remain Viable National Party

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Nice to see my old homeboy getting some face time, but cheese and rice ... have you ever seen someone less able to smile and look natural?
Lincoln Chafee: better in print:

Quote:
In 1964, at the Republican National Convention, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, I was an 11-year-old watching the full-throated booing of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller by the Goldwater delegates. It was memorable in its fervency. No matter that Goldwater would carry only six states later that year in a historic Democratic landslide; the message was one of ideological purity. Now, 45 years later, we are watching the same celebration of ideological purity at the cost of winning elections.

After the '06 Senate losses -- of myself in Rhode Island, Mike DeWine in Ohio, Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, Conrad Burns in Montana, George Allen in Virginia and Jim Talent in Missouri -- put the Republicans in the minority, there was no introspection or strategy change to stop the hemorrhaging. Indeed, in '08, it was another debacle: Sununu in New Hampshire, Smith in Oregon, Dole in North Carolina, Stevens in Alaska, Coleman in Minnesota.

After the election, it was reported that some Republicans were happy to be free of the "wobbly-kneed Republicans." Happy in their 41-seat minority! I assume that Sen. Specter told the right-wing fundraising juggernaut, "If you fund my primary opponent, I'll switch parties." The likely response? "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

That attitude signals the demise of the Republican Party as a viable national party. The ramifications of the collapse are especially acute in states such as Rhode Island, where presently there is no alternative to the Democratic Party. Everybody here agrees that that is not good for a healthy democracy.
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Old 04-29-2009, 05:45 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Lincoln Chafee: GOP Not to Remain Viable National Party

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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
Just for kicks let's game this out. How do the Republicans fade away? I imagine a new party would start up in the northeast, led by successful local politicians running against Democrats in safe seats. They could go old school and call it the Federalist Party (although Whig Party would be more fun!). Maybe they get a little success, and Republicans on the west coast jump ship. I think the south stays Republican to the end. It'd be like Britain, where the Liberal Democrats only win in the southwest.

It's hard to imagine the first person to make that move. I can't think of any northeastern politicians that bold. Specter, Snowe, Collins, and Lieberman could have got together and done it.
I don't see that happening as long as Obama is popular. The only way I could see a plausible new party forming would be if things just went horrendous all over the place, say, in 2011, and some really charismatic new figure popped up. I don't think any of the moderate Republicans we are familiar with can do it. More to the point, I don't think they will. It'll take something sudden to provide the impetus, and it will only catch fire with someone the media will go crazy over.
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Old 04-29-2009, 05:50 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Lincoln Chafee: GOP Not to Remain Viable National Party

Also interesting, on the same page as the Chafee words:

Quote:
ED ROGERS

White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; chairman of BGR Group

Notice to Republicans: Arlen Specter changing parties is good for the Democrats and President Obama and bad for us. If you think otherwise, put down the Ann Coulter book and go get some fresh air. There's always a delusional element within the GOP that thinks if we lose badly enough the Democrats will gain so much power they will implement all their crazy plans, the people will revolt and purest Republicans will then be swept back into power.
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:15 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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I'm surprised at your cynicism and lack of enthusiasm, Twin.
But Thers is way ahead of you.
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:29 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: 60! 60! 60!

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Originally Posted by claymisher View Post
I'm sure you've heard the news already. This is pretty exciting stuff.
Roger Ailes (the honest one) says:

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If I told the Democratic Party once, I told them a thousand times, "You let people like Mickey Kaus pretend to be a Democrat and this kind of stuff will happen."
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