Popcorn Another Day: Obama Pardons Presidential Turkey

Dan Friedman, With Jim O'Sullivan And Susan Davis Contributing
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Dan Friedman, with Jim O'Sullivan and Susan Davis contributing
Nov. 27, 2013, 9:35 a.m.

Out­go­ing Sen. Ar­len Specter, D-Pa., in what was likely one of his last lengthy floor speeches, on Tues­day de­cried the ex­odus of mod­er­ates from the Sen­ate and urged main­stream voters to re­ject ex­trem­ism, the tea party and the ideo­lo­gic­al pur­ity tests of Sen. Jim De­Mint, R-S.C.

“The par­tis­an­ship has reached such a high level and comity such a low level, that there is not even the pre­tense of ne­go­ti­ation or com­prom­ise in al­most all situ­ations,” Specter said.

Specter’s take on Sen­ate po­lar­iz­a­tion tracks with state­ments by oth­er out­go­ing sen­at­ors, in­clud­ing Byron Dor­gan, D-N.D., Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.

Specter, who while a Re­pub­lic­an was a top tar­get of con­ser­vat­ive pur­ists such as the Club for Growth and made his re­cip­roc­al enmity clear, has pre­vi­ously faul­ted ideo­logues for the de­cline of Sen­ate bi­par­tis­an­ship.

But the re­marks were Specter’s most ex­tens­ive on elect­or­al polit­ics and what he said is the per­ni­cious ef­fect of ex­treme par­tis­an­ship on the Sen­ate since his loss this year in a Demo­crat­ic primary to Rep. Joe Ses­tak, a de­feat that fol­lowed Specter’s de­cision to switch parties last year after con­clud­ing he could not sur­vive a GOP primary chal­lenge by former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

Though he has been a re­li­able Demo­crat­ic vote since switch­ing parties, Specter seemed to speak Tues­day from the per­spect­ive of a mod­er­ate Re­pub­lic­an.

He noted that the GOP mod­er­ate lunch­eon club he joined in 1980 had 18 mem­bers but by 2009 was down to him­self and Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Without men­tion­ing De­Mint by name, Specter faul­ted the South Car­olini­an’s state­ment that he would prefer “30 Marco Ru­bios” — a con­ser­vat­ive seek­ing the seat held by Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla. — “than 50 Ar­len Specters.”

Though De­Mint has of­ten irked GOP col­leagues and is not close to Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers, Specter called such views “the pre­vail­ing Re­pub­lic­an motto.”

Specter cited the 2006 primary loss of Sen. Joe Lieber­man, D-Conn., as ex­ample of ideo­lo­gic­al pur­ging on the left but oth­er­wise fo­cused on the con­ser­vat­ive dog­mat­ism he blamed for losses by Sens. Bob Ben­nett, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Mi­chael Castle, R-Del., in re­cent GOP sen­at­ori­al primar­ies.

He said tea party act­iv­ists do not rep­res­ent all of Amer­ica or even a ma­jor­ity of Re­pub­lic­ans.

“Mod­er­ates and some con­ser­vat­ives have fallen like flies at the hands of the ex­trem­ists in both parties,” said Specter.

He did not of­fer an ex­plan­a­tion for the trend. But he ar­gued Ben­nett had been un­fairly ous­ted by Utah Re­pub­lic­ans largely over his back­ing for the Troubled As­set Re­lief Pro­gram.

Point­ing to the $800 bil­lion stim­u­lus bill passed last year, Specter, who while still a Re­pub­lic­an, joined with Snowe and Collins back­ing the fi­nal ver­sion of the bill, said “pres­sure to toe the party line was tre­mend­ous — the strongest I’ve seen in my 29-year ten­ure. The risk of re­tri­bu­tion was enorm­ous.”

Asked about pres­sure from GOP lead­er­ship to op­pose the bill, Collins said it was sub­stan­tial but that they did not threaten re­tri­bu­tion.

Voinovich, who par­ti­cip­ated in talks over the bill be­fore drop­ping out, said it is “not true at all,” that Re­pub­lic­ans faced un­usu­al pres­sure to vote with lead­er­ship. Still, Voinovich has also made clear his dis­dain for the large amount of par­tis­an polit­ics in the every­day work of the Sen­ate.

Ben­nett, while dis­tan­cing him­self from Specter’s cri­ti­cism of oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans, said he gen­er­ally agreed on the danger pur­ity tests pose for le­gis­la­tion.

Sen. Ben Nel­son of Neb­raska, a con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crat, who him­self has ap­peared to hew right this year amid home-state at­tacks on his sup­port for the health­care over­haul bill, said he ex­pec­ted that Re­pub­lic­ans con­cerned about primary chal­lenges in 2012 would make le­gis­lat­ing hard next year re­gard­less of the Sen­ate break­down.

“I’m not sure what can get done if it’s 52-48, or 56-44, be­cause of the po­lar­iz­a­tion,” Nel­son said.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login