The Specter of politics past
Why all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over the “loss” of one particularly reprehensible RINO?
The Club for Shrinkage (Ramesh Ponnuru on National Review Online):
My initial reaction on hearing the news was that after generating a bunch of Democratic House seats, the Club for Growth has now produced its first Democratic senator. I assume that Specter’s votes will now move leftward.
Why do you assume that, Ramesh? How do you know Specter will be any more reliable a Democrat than he was a Republican? Besides (as I note below), he’s already to the left of his constituents. Maybe you mean he’ll move left in the primary. Perhaps so. But in the long run, the only thing leftists in his state can be sure of is that Arlen Specter will do what’s best for Arlen Specter. A very weak reed, indeed, on which to lean…
Specter (Andrew Stuttaford on National Review Online):
Ramesh, your initial reaction was quite right. You don’t have to be a particular fan of Specter (I’m not) to think that today’s news is bad, to say the least, and, yes, the position in which Specter now finds himself must mean that he shifts (further?) left, taking, in a very real sense, the country with him.
Sometimes (to borrow Lenin’s phrase), the worse can be better, but sometimes the worse is simply worse.
Pur et Dur (Andrew Stuttaford):
These remarks by Jim DeMint are not what I’d describe as grounds for good cheer:
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.
He’s missing the point.
If it comes to a choice, I’d rather have 60 Republicans in the Senate, however squishy some of the views of some in their ranks, than 60 Democrats who are all certain of theirs. Anyone who truly believes in limited government ought to understand that voting against can be as valid as voting for. If it takes a few Specters to see off a Democratic majority, so be it.
As for the idea that reducing the GOP to a rump of true believers (whatever that might actually mean: there are plenty on the right who interpret the terms “limited government” and “free people” in very different ways) is the essential first step in a Republican restoration, it is, I am afraid, a bad mistake. Wildernesses are, almost always, for losers.
No, sir, I believe it is you who are missing the point.
While keeping on a liberal hack like Specter when you’re trying to get from 49 to 50 or from 50 to 51 might be justifiable—that is not where we are right now. We are trying to rebuild a party that—like the late, lamentable Pontiac division—has not done enough to develop and defend and extend its brand.
There are several things that bother me about the tenor of yours and Ramesh’s contributions to this discussion.
One is that you blame…someone…for this. Someone, I mean, other than Mr. Specter himself. It’s as if conservatives are just supposed to shut up and stay out of public view. No conservatives allowed the temerity to challenge a liberal in the primary.
Can you imagine? What nerve you must have to determine that conservatives are simply not allowed to advocate or oppose because of —Party?
Where do you get off with that?
Apparently, winning is all you care about. Getting and holding power.
But what good is power if it is not used to achieve the things you cherish most? That you believe are most vital to your country and your cause?
Do you realize that is what you’re asking?
There are two more issues you’re missing so badly, I don’t even know how to begin. Even ranking them is beyond me.
Harvesters of votes
Well, here they are:
After Specter’s betrayal of his Party, his country, and the generations to follow, you still trot out the 60-vote canard.
Number one. He broke any hope of Republicans prevailing in a filibuster of the Porkulus bill, probably the most important vote of his life. And, as I understand it, he was still a member of the Republican caucus. Even if he were the 60th Republican vote, just how assured would you be, on any given vote, that he still wouldn’t break ranks? I thought so. May he be as faithful a Democrat as he has been a Republican!
Number two. Why do you people so lack in confidence in conservative ideas—and/or in your ability to sell these ideas—that you have become harvesters of votes rather than evangelists of the conservative vision? You have become net consumers rather than producers in the marketplace of ideas. You have become riders of waves and have forgotten how to make your own waves.
Off with you!
A new generation
We need a new generation of conservative intellectuals, politicians and evangelists who will move into places like Pennsylvania and not only stem the flow toward the blue side—the dark side, may I remind you, sir—but turn the momentum the other way. The tides in politics are not inexorable forces leading us inevitably toward death and destruction. They respond to hard work and careful, repeated explanation.
But you, sir, won’t even try.
We need a new generation of leaders who will focus on the exurbs with their influx of economic refugees from welfare states like Michigan and New York, who move to places where they can get a job, but who bring with them their welfare state mindset. These people can be taught. Or they can be left alone and will then transform their new red states into blue ones, just like the states that failed them.
Why can’t you show the courage of your conservative convictions and do something?
We need conservative thinkers and evangelists, not political whores.
Besides, he’s still more liberal than his constituents. That may not be true much longer, but it is true now. I think it is very counter-productive to support Republicans who are to the left of voters, while silencing those who are to the right. For one thing, it blocks more conservative leaders from access to a platform on which to sell conservative ideas.
Is there no one on the right with intellectual firepower and the courage to use it?
So how did it turn out?
Did these guys’ gloom and doom predictions turn out to be accurate?