President Obama set out a very ambitious agenda Tuesday night about the direction he would like to take this nation. Its great to have such a wonderful speech but now its time for Congress to roll up their sleeves and actually get the leg work done. Unfortunately the Republicans have shown that they believe that obstruction is the way back from the wilderness for them. After their conduct during the debate over the stimulus bill one can surmise that their resistance to change will only get worse. So what can be done to help avoid the problems we had with getting the stimulus bill done whereby we ended up having to water it down just to get it passed? Well in my mind I think we should consider trying to get Arlen Specter to leave the GOP and cross the aisle. I know that might not be a popular sentiment but follow me over the fold to read my argument for doing so.
crossposted at SmoothLikeRemy
If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn't gone to Republican Senator Arlen Specter and asked him to cross the aisle and caucus with the Democrats he should have his head examined. Right now you have RNC Chairman Michael Steele threatening to back a to be named later primary challenger to Specter next year because of his vote on the stimulus bill and you have Republicans in Pennsylvania jeering himduring an appearance. Now don't get me wrong, I don't believe for one second that it would be an easy sell but if we could get Specter to come over and bring the Democrats a supermajority (assuming Franken gets seated at some point) it would be well worth the effort.
Arlen Specter does not fit in with the majority of the members of his party in the Congress. He hasn't been real big on spouting off the false talking points of the rest of his party and generally when he opposes something its for real, principled reasons. He is pro life and he also supports civil unions which is more than you can say for some of the Democrats in the Senate right now. He also doesn't go with the flow when his conscious tells him not to. I won't resort to saying he is all mavericky and stuff but by in large Specter calls it like he sees it. This is now heresy in the Republican Party and he is being shunned by many in his own caucus because of it. The truth is if he holds true to form this will only get worse as time goes on. Now I firmly believe that Senator Spector wants at least one more term as Senator, and thats going to be a hard row to hoe if he has to defeat a strong opponent in the Republican primary. And even if he somehow survives that challenge he would still have to beat out a Democrat in a state that President Obama won by quite a good margin. So if I were Harry Reid my proposal would be two fold.
First I would promise Spector that as an incumbent Democrat he would be fully supported by the DCCC as well as the Democratic Leadership in Congress. This would help to assure him that he would have no problem in a Democratic primary. Hell if he is going to be the 60th vote for cloture I would imagine that President Obama would even commit to campaigning for him. So with a wink and a nod Reid could effectively guarantee Spector another term in office.
The second thing I would do is promise him that he will keep his seniority and he will be in line for a plum chairmanship post during the next session of Congress if not sooner. If you can do it for Joe Lieberman surely you can do it for Spector as well.
Now honestly I don't think this would be all that controversial and the upside far out weighs any potential negatives. Before anyone says it, yes I know that Spector isn't a dyed in the wool progressive and yes I know that his voting record is a mixed bag. But I will tell you this much, if we can have that asshole Ben Nelson in the Democratic caucus I would think we could allow room for Arlen Specter. Especially if it moves progressive legislation through the Senate without getting it watered down like the stimulus bill. What does Harry Reid have to lose? If he isn't at least considering this option I think Senator Reid deserves to be fired from his post as Majority Leader.
Of course I think he should be fired regardless.
What say you?
Update: Bill/Ben Nelson corrected