TEAM PLAYER…. For Democrats, it was annoying to see Arlen Specter, after leaving the Republican Party, vote against the Democratic budget. Matters worsened when he rejected a Democratic measure to help prevent mortgage foreclosures, announced his opposition to the president’s OLC nominee, rejected a key component of the Democratic health care plan, and publicly denied he would be “loyal” to his new party.
And given Specter’s comments to the New York Times‘ Deborah Solomon, it’s reasonable to wonder if the Pennsylvania senator even understands what it means to be a member of a political party. It generally involves rooting for members of your team to win elections over members of the other team, a point that seems lost on Specter.
NYT: With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?
Specter: I sure do. There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.
In case there’s any confusion, Solomon is certain that Specter wasn’t kidding.
By late yesterday, Specter had reversed course.
“In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates,” he said. “I’m ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I’ve made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke.”
Asked who he’s backing now in elections, Specter said, “I’m looking for more Democratic members. Nothing personal.”
In other words, a Democratic senator, speaking to the New York Times, simply forgot he was a Democrat and repeated the Republican talking points he’d grown accustomed to. (They weren’t even good talking points, since even most GOP leaders concede that Coleman is very likely to lose.)
I don’t mean to sound ungenerous; everyone misspeaks from time to time. But in the context of Specter’s recent votes, and his opposition to Democratic policies and nominees, arguing publicly that Norm Coleman deserves “justice” is the kind of development that will encourage more than a few Democrats to get contributions ready for Joe Sestak.