Tag Archives: US Senate

Gillibrand Takes on Stupak

11 Nov

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And Arlen Makes 60

28 Apr

The man conservatives hated and labeled a RINO will now enjoy being hated by liberals and his new “DINO” label. Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party today, and there are many reasons for it, and ramifications arising out of it.

Firstly, the moderate Republican is a critically endangered species. This is, in my estimation, a crying shame. I used to be one. The swift, dramatic radicalization of the Republican Party during the Bush years pushed me to become a moderate Democrat. Moderate Republican has become an oxymoron.

The reason it’s a shame is that most Americans aren’t radicals. They aren’t wingers of any sort. They’re pretty middle-of-the-road. Some tilt right, others tilt left, but most average people you meet are pretty centrist.

And so it was a pretty big coincidence that Republican pundit Ross Douthat – formerly of the Atlantic – wrote his first op-ed for the New York Times today explaining why it was actually a shame that Dick Cheney hadn’t run against Barack Obama. The trotting out of John McCain – a pretty centrist Republican – to run against Obama has only emboldened the pro-torture Cheneyist wing of the party. He begins with the current conservative conventional wisdom:

We tried running the maverick reformer, the argument goes, and look what it got us. What Americans want is real conservatism, not some crypto-liberal imitation.

“Real conservatism,” in this narrative, means a particular strain of right-wingery: a conservatism of supply-side economics and stress positions, uninterested in social policy and dismissive of libertarian qualms about the national-security state. And Dick Cheney happens to be its diamond-hard distillation. The former vice-president kept his distance from the Bush administration’s attempts at domestic reform, and he had little time for the idealistic, religiously infused side of his boss’s policy agenda. He was for tax cuts at home and pre-emptive warfare overseas; anything else he seemed to disdain as sentimentalism.

This is precisely the sort of conservatism that’s ascendant in today’s much-reduced Republican Party, from the talk radio dials to the party’s grassroots. And a Cheney-for-President campaign would have been an instructive test of its political viability.

The reaction from many on the right to Specter’s departure has been an echo of that Cheneyist sentiment. Let him go, they say. Screw Specter. Start raising money for the guy from the right-wing Club for Growth who’s running as a Republican for Specter’s seat. Specter was a rat RINO and he and Olympia Snowe and any other so-called moderate Republican can go join the Democrats, too.

That’s fantastic. Cull them. Purge the moderates. Push them out of the remnants of Reagan’s big tent, and further render the GOP an irrelevant anachronism of a shell of a party. Regional in nature, extreme in policy. It is against what most Americans are for, and is for what most Americans are against. Even torture.

The Specter switch is fraught with peril for Obama because on paper, he can roll through whatever he wants now. But Specter will most likely be as independent-minded as ever, so assume nothing will be easy. But it’s nice that the Democratic Party has become the only one that will welcome centrists. Sen. Olympia Snowe calls the move “devastating”. Sen. Lindsey Graham said,

“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth,” said Graham. “I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country — and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective.”

“As Republicans, we got a problem,” he said.

For comic relief, here’s the Buffalo Ruse’s take.

Quick Reads

19 Feb

First read this, then compare it with what happened here. I have to say the latter is a rank embarassment for NY City Councilman Charles Barron, as far as I’m concerned.