Senator Arlen Specter has been around a long time. When he changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat last week, he referenced his early public service on the Warren Commission. Mobbed by enthusiasts, he said, “I don’t think Lee Harvey Oswald had this big a crowd trailing him.”
That wasn’t a parting shot — Specter aims to stay in office. He only switched after polls showed that challenger Pat Toomey — about whose candidacy I reported the week before — would best him in the Republican primary.
Yup. Arlen Specter wants to stay in office so badly that he’s willing to carry on even after he has been effectively repudiated by his party of over 40 years.
Most of the commentary has been about how small a tent the GOP has become. Most pundits say this is bad for Republicans.
I’m not so sure. If the Democrats fail to usher in Nirvana in the next two years — if things, say, get even worse — a narrowed oppositional GOP could turn the electoral climate around pretty fast.
What most interests me, now, is that Specter’s affiliation-change shows how difficult it is to change currents in government. The old guard can flip, stay in power, and the power brokers switch chairs from friend to foe and vice versa.
If senators served under term limits, this whole issue — and the problem it reveals — would not even come up.
With term limits, a metaphorical Jack Ruby isn’t even necessary.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.