I certainly wasn’t expecting Sen. Arlen “Magic Bullet Theory” Specter to switch parties today, but it was most certainly a welcome development for Democrats. Especially after the more obvious candidates for party switching over the years have resisted - from James Jeffords of Vermont who became an Independent rather than associating with us Dems, to Lincoln Chafee who ended up losing his Senate seat in Rhode Island because he stubbornly refused to switch parties.
But rather than following Chafee into the abyss, Specter decided to take the plunge in a bid to salvage his political career. And the odds are good now that it will work. And now Democrats are on the verge of a 60-vote filibuster-busting majority in the Senate as soon as Al Franken takes his rightful place as the next senator from Minnesota.
So Republicans are really hurting, especially in light of their loss in the New York District 20 race last week - A one-time Republican stronghold that stayed in Democratic hands despite their best efforts.
But believe me when I say that “I feel their pain.” Yes, I can actually feel just the slightest twinge of sympathy for my misguided Republican brothers and sisters on this one. That’s because I can still remember how I felt in 1994-95 as one conservative Democrat after another took turns jumping ship and stabbing the party in the back.
Remember Sen. Richard Shelby? Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell? Or how about all those turncoat Congressmen shortly after the start of the Gingrich Revolution — Billy Tauzin, Nathan Deal, Mike Parker, Jimmy Hayes, Greg Laughlin...
Yeah, it’s no fun when the shoe is on the other foot. Pretty soon there may be others like Olympia Snowe following Specter’s lead. But there shouldn’t be too many if for no other reason than the party has already shrunk down so small that there just aren’t that many people left who could conceivably make the switch. The moderate wing of the Republican Party can already hold its caucus meetings in a phone booth.