When Sen. Arlen Specter ran in a contentious primary against conservative congressman Pat Toomey in 2004, his slogan was "Courage, Clout, Conviction." The other day, when Specter's pollster apparently told him he was going to lose to Toomey in a rematch, he promptly chucked that blather about his courage and conviction and narrowed his thinking to clout. In desperation, he switched to the Democratic Party.
Specter will say (and now do) anything to remain in power. So he tried to spin his way out of this shameless act of political self-preservation by attacking conservatives.
And the left-wing "news" media were there to help.
Specter claimed conservatives prefer purity to victory, and asked for other Republicans to revolt against the right: "They don't make any bones about their willingness to lose the general election if they can purify the party. There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising." The networks loved it. On CBS, Chip Reid said "Specter blames the party's increasingly conservative tilt." On NBC, Kelly O'Donnell cited Specter's long odds against a "much more conservative challenger," and helpfully passed along that Specter "said he couldn't risk that, and said that voters who tend to turn out in the primaries tend to be on the fringe of the party, not a moderate Republican like he is."
On CNN, political analyst Bill Schneider exclaimed, "There's a big message here, which is that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that it is making itself uncompetitive in significant parts of the country, like the Northeast."
Predictably, other Republican "moderates" took up the theme. (How you can be a "moderate" and support any of Obama's economic radicalism is beyond me.) The New York Times handed over precious editorial-page real estate for Sen. Olympia Snowe to lament that conservatives forced her friend Specter out of the party and are "inhospitable" to moderates.
Can't all these people stare the election returns in the face? The rudest, most "inhospitable" forces for moderate Republicans in the Northeast have been the Democrats. The Democrats retired Sen. Lincoln Chafee, despite fervent support from Team Bush -- after Chafee wasn't even hospitable enough to vote for President Bush in 2004. The Democrats retired "pro-choice" Republicans Jeb Bradley and Charles Bass in New Hampshire. The Democrats retired Rep. Christopher Shays in Connecticut.
I'd like to claim it was conservatives who bested these liberal Republicans. It was liberal Democrats who defeated them.