Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Specter Debate

I have been following the debate among Republicans regarding the efficacy of allowing Arlen Specter, a "moderate" Republican, to ascend to the Chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee. Those against such a move point to his past hostility to pro-life judges and to other conservative favorites, especially Judge Robert Bork. The two biggest forces aligned against Specter, at least as far as the New Media is concerned, are probably National Review (with Katherine Jean Lopez in the vanguard) and conservative talker Laura Ingraham. Specter has his defenders, including the usual Senate suspects, but, to the surprise of some, Hugh Hewitt, a conservative blogger and talk show host, has offered the most strident defense on behalf of Specter.

Without getting to the merits on either side (and they both have them), the argument seems to be essentially between those who hold their conservative idealism closer against those who are engaged in party building (broadening the big tent and all) and are willing to make some compromises to strengthen the majority. As a conservative and a Republican, I must admit that I am torn on the issue (GET OFF THAT FENCE!). Specter is the worst kind of milquetoast Republican moderate, is wrong about so many things (as far as I'm concerned) and really doesn't deserve the Chair after backhanding the President who saved his bacon in the Republican primaries. On the other hand, there really are moderate Republicans, especially in the northeast, and keeping them happy bolsters the long term strength of the party. At the convention we saw "Ahnold" and Rudy, both "moderates" who have widespread appeal, whether we conservatives like to admit it or not. Therefore, I agree with Hewitt that we should not take a scorched earth policy by telling moderate Republicans to toe the line or get out.

My problem is this: I don't trust Arlen Specter. So, on a day where Lincoln Chafee finally decided to still be a Republican, at least for now (wink wink), I think that moderates are worth keeping because they make the Republican party more appealing, though I would hesitate to say that Chafee is a plus but would include Maine's two Senators (Snowe and Collins) as positives. The problem with Specter is that he strikes me as a Jim Jefford's type of moderate Republican...he is a political opportunist who would jump if it suited him. In short, Specter is not interested in party building. He is only interested in himself. As such, he doesn't deserve a 475th chance.

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