Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter shook the Senate up today with his announcement that he's joining the Democrats.
The explanation he gave was plausible enough: the GOP has moved too far to the right. "As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party," Specter said.
Fair enough. In this respect, Specter is correct in that there are those who beat their chests and proclaim that the Republican party belongs only to conservatives and in so doing they reject and trivialize the history and honor of the GOP. Shame on them.
Predictably, Republican party big-wigs turned on Specter like rabid pit bulls. National chair Michael Steele said in a written statement:"Let's be honest -- Sen. Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record."
Steele went on to inappropriately bash Specter as a Republican in name only and the perjorative "left-wing" labeling is sophomoric pandering.
But beyond that Steele's core comment is absolutely on target. Catch this quote: "In the course of the last several months ... I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak." Michael Steele didn't say that, Arlen Specter did.
So just last month Specter says he's sticking with the GOP because the party needs men and women of diverse beliefs and, when the political waters seem to get bouncy, he jumps ship. Michael Steele is right on that score -- Specter didn't just leave the GOP on principle.
If Arlen Specter wants to reform the GOP, there's a lot of work to be done. The harvest may be great and the laborers few but he'd be a man of greater integrity if he stood up for the principles of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan instead of running from them.
I don't care if Specter is left-wing, right-wing or center-wing. Today he's chicken-wing.