Politics & Media
Feb 14, 2009, 08:33AM

Speaking of toeing the party line

The Republican Party has cornered itself with its own partisanship.

The stimulus made it through both Senate chambers, but with the help of only three Republican senators and no Republican representatives. And yet "the party of ideas" is actually more at ease with Obama's bill than they let on via FOX. Per The Huffington Post, Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had this to say on the situation:

"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," he said.

Specter was asked, How many of your colleagues?

"I think a sizable number," he said. "I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted, but I wouldn't want to begin to speculate on numbers."

Honestly, I'm less politically angry than I am saddened. While Specter wouldn't say how many colleagues he was referring to, he reminds us of how ideology puts politicians—liberal, conservative, mineral and vegetable—into prescribed boxes. (Matthew Yglesias pointed out this perfect example.) Specter's quote is as damning an observation on American politics as the candidacy of Sarah Palin, the Minnesota Senate race and the seeming reality that Democratic cabinet appoointees don't pay taxes.

For all the Republican posturing over this bill, Obama still has some of the highest approval ratings of a one-month-old president. The public wants the bill, and is more than a little dissatisfied with the media's coverage. Senator John McCain can mumble all he wants about bipartisanship, but he would do well to read this little blog post over at MSNBC:

With zero House Republicans voting for the stimulus -- and with just three Senate Republicans expected to vote for it later this afternoon -- it's worth noting that 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats voted for the final passage of Bush's big tax cut in 2001. (And remember, too, that Bush had barely won the presidential election the year before.) The size of that 2001 tax-cut package? $1.35 trillion.

And he could even take a hint from Joe Lieberman, of all people (Think Obama is going to get any props from hard liberals for his decision to not excommunicate the Democrat-cum-Republican-cum-Democrat? Probably not.):

Campaigning for the other party's candidates can be quite a help when the election is over. "I think he has campaigned for a couple of the others, as well, so they obviously have a relationship and that's been helpful," said Nelson.

"Joe's longtime good relationship with Arlen Specter helped considerably," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who was in on the centrist meetings.

"He was important," said Sen. Specter, who, along with Collins and her fellow Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, broke ranks to join the Democrats. "But the critical talks occurred between Senator Reid, Senator Collins and, for awhile, Senator Voinovich. Those were the principal discussions."

Majority Leader Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley said that Lieberman "played a crucial role in keeping this all together."

Lieberman is a liberal when it comes to fiscal policy and his vote was never in doubt. He attended the meetings as an observer at first, he said, but then saw the talks begin to fall apart and took a more assertive role.

When all is said and done, politicians are being politicians, Lieberman is not the Democratic Party's Antichrist and the term bipartisan has many partisan definitions.

  • Please. Using Arlen Specter, one of the most despised GOP senators within his own ranks, as the kick-off mouthpiece for this piece is somewhat disingenuous. Maybe the GOP has "cornered itself with its own partisanship," but since they're in the minority, they don't compare to revenge-seeking Democrats (still pissed after 8 years of Bush) who rammed through this boondoggle of a spending bill. I wish Obama hadn't ceded the writing of the bill to Nancy Pelosi and her staff. More input from Obama and I'm betting the bill wouldn't have been such a disaster.

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  • Fair enough. Specter is not the most Republican of Republicans out there. But just take the comment at face value. His colleagues are saying they'd vote for this if they didn't have elections to run and whatnot. I should have made clear this scenario is not particular to Republicans. But there it is.

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  • Yes, but as you certainly know, politicians, especially House members, are ALWAYS running for reelection. And in the case of the Senate, only 1/3 of the body--actually 35, because of special elections--are up in 2010. Specter's a weasel and the great regret among conservatives is that Pat Toomey didn't defeat him in the '04 GOP primary.

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  • http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/62181.html this is pretty ridiculous

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  • Nice find, Andrew. It's incredible that Don Young wasn't booted by Alaskans last November, a true embarrassment to the GOP. Maybe he'll get bounced on ethics charge around the same time as Murtha and Dodd. It'd suit me fine if the entire Congress was replaced by new men and women, in the same majorities that Dems now have, just to be rid of the lot.

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