Was it worth it for Specter?

WAS IT WORTH IT FOR SPECTER?….. It’s pretty obvious that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) flipped on the Employee Free Choice Act because he wants to win his Republican primary next year. If continued to support EFCA, as he did in 2007, his party’s far-right base would have yet another reason to see Specter as overly concerned with the interests of working people.

So, to make himself appear more conservative, Specter flipped. And has he impressed his far-right detractors with his change of heart? Apparently not.

For instance, Specter’s announcement drew only mockery and scorn from former GOP Rep. Ernest Istook, the chair of the anti-EFCA group Save Our Secret Ballot.

“Specter enjoys being the center of attention,” Istook said. “There has probably been more money spent to influence his vote on this issue than on any other vote, from any other senator, at any other time. He wants to continue enjoying the attention and the fundraising opportunity.”

Doug Stafford of the anti-EFCA National Right to Work Committee added in a statement that Specter’s move should be “viewed with some skepticism,” adding that other labor-oriented proposals championed by Specter remain “totally unacceptable” and will enable “Big Labor to corral more workers into forced unionism.”

Specter’s potential primary challenger, Club for Growth president Pat Toomey, has kept up the attacks, blasting Specter’s vote for the “big government stimulus bill” and dismissing Specter’s opposition to EFCA as merely the result of “a threat in the Republican primary.”

This reminds me a bit of congressional Democrats who used to cave to Bush/Cheney on national security issues because, as they saw it, standing up to the GOP would mean attack ads accusing them of being soft on national security. The problem, of course, was that Republicans were going to make the accusations anyway.

It’s a similar problem here. Specter knows EFCA is a good idea, and knows it would benefit working people. He doesn’t want to be accused by his own party of “moderation,” so Specter is toeing the party line, hoping to avoid the attacks. But, like the Dems on national security, the attacks will come anyway.

This time, though, when the Republican base continues to blast Specter’s “centrism,” he’ll also get blasted from the other side for betraying labor.

It’s quite a calculation Specter made.