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.
Bill Schneider noted the line of defeats on CNN, but put all the blame on the "far right" conservatives. In one sense, the media have stayed remarkably consistent: Ever since Barry Goldwater in 1964, they've consistently preached that conservatism always puts Republicans on the brink of disaster (even after the Reagan landslides and the short-lived "revolution" of 1994). They've consistently whined that the moderates are maligned and neglected -- and they've never considered that these "moderates" are often self-impressed careerists who preen over how much more reasonable they are than the "fringe" and who aren't exactly specialists in "party unity." But that's why the media love them -- they give them a pretty much permanent narrative of GOP "fratricide."
These reporters didn't seem to notice why Specter was losing and Toomey was winning: Specter cravenly rejected his party to vote with the Democrats on the most massive "stimulus" spending bill in American history, extravagantly laden with pork, wind beneath the bureaucracy's wings. And this supposed sage, this symbol of reasoned reflection and Washington probity, voted for this nightmare -- like everyone else -- without even taking the time to read the bill.
Specter took every dollar and every vote that Republicans have given him over almost 30 years in federal office and flushed it down the toilet. He was not a profile in courage. He was a profile in clout without a conscience.
Even reporters like Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post noticed that the national media, in print and on TV, avoided discussing whether Specter's defection to the Democrats displayed disloyalty to all the Republicans who supported him against Toomey five years ago. Over and over again, the party apparatus has supported liberal Republican incumbents from Specter to Chafee to Jeffords with far more loyalty than these men ever offered with their votes at the Capitol.
This story, like so many others, establish with an abundance of evidence that the "objective" national media is merely part of the liberal Democratic fold. Join them, and you are welcomed with bouquets of praise. Fight their machine, and they will bear down on you with all the tar and feathers they can muster.