Arlen Specter at the US Capitol, April 28, 2009 (Photo by Lauren Victoria Burke wdcpix.com)
Mr. "Axis of Evil" David Frum, former Bush speechwriter and critic of the GOP's RINO hunting strategy:
With Arlen Specter’s defection, all that stands between the Democrats and a 60-seat Senate majority are Norman Coleman’s lawyers. I wish them every success – but they have not exactly been on a winning streak to date.
Which means that Democrats won’t need to resort to unorthodox tactics to push, say, their healthcare bill through Congress. They’ll have the votes.
If the Democrats do succeed in pushing through national health insurance, they really should set aside a little extra money to erect a statue to Pat Toomey. They couldn’t have done it without him!
Frum has been cast out of the conservative movement's "cool kid" club since he bucked party orthodoxy on Sarah Palin. He was justifiably horrified (an "irresponsible choice"), which was of course a cardinal sin to the wingers. Now he's left watching his party's continued jihad against moderates continue to thin its ranks.
But don't tell those conservative activists that they're killing their party.
According to Chris Lilik, the editor of the conservative Pennsylvania site GrassrootsPA.com, who’d worked for the Toomey campaign in 2004, Specter hadn’t been gaining ground with that strategy. Lilik pointed to Specter’s statements on Tuesday, about not wanting to “face the jury” of the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate, as proof.
“There were so many issues he just wasn’t smart about,” said Lilik. “”It’s really unfair to blame conservatives for this. His problems with the base were all self-inflicted. He did this to himself.”
Right! He did things like vote with a popular president for a popular stimulus proposal. Totally self-inflicted wounds. It's not fair to blame conservative activists for trying to push Specter outside of the Pennsylvania and American mainstreams!
NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru:
The NRCC: "Good Riddance" to Specter [Ramesh Ponnuru]
That's what the GOP House campaign committee is saying in its press release. I guess it will be truly happy when Snowe and Collins leave too.
How about McCain? Rush Limbaugh, the GOP's head honcho wants to throw out his party's 2008 nominee in the name of ideological purity:
"A lot of people said, well Specter, take McCain with you, and his daughter. Take McCain and his daughter with you," talk show host Rush Limbaugh declared during the early hour of his Tuesday program.
I'm sure Bill Kristol would also be truly happy when Snowe and Collins leave too.
I think it's good for the Republicans.
Sane conservative Daniel Larison, of course, is horrified:
Specter’s switch pretty well clears the way for Toomey to win the GOP nomination without much difficulty, so Toomey will have the chance to test his proposition that Pennsylvanians don’t want Arlen Specter’s brand of politics on a grand scale in the general election. The result of that contest will confirm what some of us have been saying for a while: of all the places to try to vindicate support for Club for Growth economic policy and the Iraq war, Pennsylvania is one of the worst places imaginable. If one had wanted to hasten the day when Club for Growth-style economic conservatism appeared to be nothing but a liability for the GOP, one could not have put together a better scenario than this one.
Wingnut Senator Jim DeMint, who had endorsed Toomey in the Pennsylvania primary and potentially led directly to the Specter switch:
DeMint continued: “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.”
DeMint will get his wish, with his rump Southern party holding less than 40 seats after the 2010 elections. And for those saner voices in his party, arguing for a bigger tent and a more electable GOP? They are being drowned out by the Kristols, Limbaughs and a party base that is more interested in purity than electability.