Setting aside for a moment all the wonderful, logistical things that are supposedly going to accrue to the Democrats because Arlen Specter wants to be a Democrat, such as the increase for the Democrats on the committee chairs he holds, and the increase of one more Democrat in the Senate, let's take a look at the standard Republican tactics of expediency and opportunism.
On November 11, 2008, just nine days after Barack Obama, the first black man in United States history to be elected President, Jeff Burton, a Republican and chief of staff to Congressman Conaway, a Republican, started a movement to draft Michael Steele as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, which would make Steele the head of the Republican Party. Michael Steele is a black man, the first in the history of the Republican Party to hold that post.
Not to belabor the point, but it bears repeating that the Republicans, just nine days after a black man was elected president, decided that it would be a good idea for them to have a black man leading their party. First time in history the Republicans had given any thought to a black man as their leader. And, it took just 89 days from Obama's election to get Steele elected to represent the Republicans. Just 89 days is all it took.
Of course, the Republicans will tell you with a straight face that having the first black president has nothing at all to do with their selection of the first black man as head of the Republican Party. Nothing at all.
This move by the Republicans has all the inherent satire backed by the soft cynicism of a Monty Python sketch.
Now comes Arlen Specter, marinated in Republicanism for 30 years or more, and on his road to Damascus, he's seen the light that is the approaching 2010 election and he's had a revelation. Looking around he's noticed that in the last two elections, more people voted Democratic than they did Republican. So, the thing to do to win in the 2010 election is to be a Democrat. Problem solved. Re-election assured.
While the Democrats in congress look with favor on Specter's miraculous conversion, it might be well to look at the record of the Republicans, from which Specter comes. I don't have to go into the disastrous Republican administration of the last eight years, you already know all that. The people welcoming Specter to the fold seem to have forgotten that George Bush, Dick Cheney and all of their Republican sycophants were all, well, Republicans. During all that time, so was Arlen Specter.
Have the Democrats forgotten that? Appears so.
You would think that there would be some kind of de-Republification program, much like the de-Nazification program after World War II, required to cleanse the Republicanism from those who show signs of returning to sanity by wanting to be a Democrat. But, the thing that is most important for the Democrats to consider and never forget is that this guy was voluntarily a Republican and didn't, for all those years, have sense enough to not be a Republican. That's a record of a lack of ethics and morals, much less common sense, that will be hard, if not impossible, to overcome and be forgiven for. At least, it will be for those who know how truly perverse the Republicans are.
Consider. Here comes good old Arlen, doing the expected Republican thing, which is to do whatever is necessary to win his next election, in this case by becoming a Democrat. Then, after he's won his next election, what are the chances that he'll again do the expected Republican thing and change his mind again and decide he wants to be a Republican, again?
I'd say the chances are better than good that he'll swap parties again, when the opportunity comes up and when it's expedient. That's what he's doing right now. But, that's to be expected. After all, he's a Republican, doing what Republicans do.
And so we have the Specter, the haunting or disturbing image or prospect, of this guy bailing out on the Democrats when, again, it best serves his purposes.