The Opportunistic Choice

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 28, 2009 12:07 PM
Arlen Specter has announced he will become a Democrat, and run for re-election in 2010 on that ticket.

Of course, that is huge news, because if Al Franken is seated as Minnesota's senator, Democrats would have 60 seats, i.e., a filibuster-proof majority.

What's evident is that Specter's switch has nothing really to do with ideology.  He ran in 1980 as part of the Reagan Revolution -- and nothing the Republicans are doing today is any more conservative (or in MSM-speak, "extreme") than the Reagan platform in 1980. 

To put it politely, Specter is switching parties so he can go where the line is shortest.  There is no real competition for the Democratic nomination back to the Senate; on the Republican side, he was running 21 points behind Pat Toomey.

So if one isn't over-burdened with any sense of ideological commitment (and honor, given all the years the GOP has taken flack for supporting a "moderate" like Specter over more conservative candidates), Specter's move makes perfect sense.  If it's all  about holding office -- and not much else -- he's done the rational thing.

In these days, it's become fashionable to bash Wall Streeters.  One might note that there's plenty of self-interest, opportunity and greed among elected officials, as well.  It's just greed directed at holding power, rather than making money.

For my part, I'd take a greedy Wall Streeter any day over a power-at-all-costs politician.  Sure, the former can take your money -- but the latter can take your freedom.