What Will Become of Arlen Specter?
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo voices some questions
that I've been thinking about ever since the whole Arlen Specter debacle started:
James Dobson, one of the most powerful leaders of the religious right, now says he doesn't want Specter as Chairman no matter what. "He is a problem," said Dobson, "and he must be derailed."
I have a hard time believing that Specter will actually be turned aside while he is so loudly protesting his willingness to toe the party line. But it puts even more pressure on Specter to be a down-the-line supporter of every judicial nominee the president sends up to the Hill.
This raises two issues. First, how much room will remain for the moderate GOP senators and how much freedom will they have to deviate from the White House line which, predictably, is now moving even more decisively to the right. Second, how much de facto control will the White House and the president have over the internal governance of the senate under Bill Frist? Who chairs what committees? What rules get or don't get changed, etc.?
I think it will be very telling to see what happens after the dust clears here. Will Specter head the Senate Judiciary Committee? I know that the whole "values" issue has been hashed ad nauseum (and I concede, it wasn't the most
influential issue), but I think this whole incident supports my contentions. The Republican party is very close to becoming the conservative party.
Look at what happened with Arlen Specter. He merely suggested
that Bush should be careful in his choice of Supreme Court Justices - and look at the mountain of opposition that has sprung up. Can you imagine what would have happened if Specter had declared that he would reject any nominee who favored making first trimester abortions illegal? Specter would have been crucified. Maybe Specter will get the position (especially since he has recanted and given his sanction to the theocrats). But this is a disturbing precedent for the Republican party.
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:26 AM