Oh, sure. I put up a politics-related post, and some misfit senator has to go and make a party switch. Way to go, Arlen Specter. Thanks for ensuring that you’re the only political thing anyone wants to read about on a day when I posted about something entirely else.
Aw, who am I kidding? It’s pretty sweet. The Senate has another Democrat. Admittedly, it’s a guy who was the Dems’ easiest target when they needed to win a vote from across the aisle, but it serves to send the message that the Republican Party is increasingly becoming a minority party simply due to their incessant attempts to play to the hysterical far-right base.
This switch doesn’t mean that much in terms of the actual votes. Sure, the Republicans don’t really have the option to threaten a filibuster any more (especially if/when Coleman runs out of options and Franken finally gets seated), but Specter and the other more moderate Senators on both sides will still be voting their consciences rather than sticking to the party line. Otherwise, nobody would actually give a flying fuck about Senator Nelson other than his Nebraska constituents.
What this means, perhaps crucially, is that in 2010, when Specter is up for re-election, he will probably get the Democratic party nomination and beat Pat Toomey handily. Had he stayed Republican, Toomey would probably have beaten him out in the primary and the Senate would have lost a longtime voice of reason. (NB: by ‘reason’, I mean an intelligent, level-headed moderate. I don’t always agree with Specter, but I don’t hold with extreme ideologues on either side.)
Despite the general inclination to vote his conscience, though… in order to consolidate his position as a Democrat, Specter may throw his backing behind some of the more crucial reforms of the Obama agenda which he otherwise might not have; this would make it all the more likely that he gets the nod in ’10.
So welcome to the party of Yes, Arlen Specter. Good to have you.
Now if we could just get Norm Coleman to FREAKING QUIT ALREADY. YOU LOST. GET OVER IT.