- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

UH-OH

Liberal bloggers are already starting to complain about Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who last week left the Republican Party to join the Democrats.

“In his zeal to convince the world that his party switch was somehow premised upon principle rather than political opportunism, Arlen Specter on ‘Meet The Press’ [Sunday] went out of his way to assure us all just what a bad Democrat he intends to be,” Todd Beeton writes at www.mydd.com.

“During one exchange, he boasted once again of his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, essentially saying, ‘I bucked the Republican Party when I was a Republican and I’ll buck the Democratic Party as a Democrat.’ Ahh, sweet, oh so virtuous independence. Lieberman and Bloomberg would be proud. At another point in the interview, Specter went even further, denying reports that he’d told President Obama that he would be a ‘loyal Democrat.’

The blogger noted that in “the same interview Mr. Specter pointed out that he had voted against the Democrats’ budget, because it allows for a health care plan to pass with just 51 votes, thus ruling out a filibuster.

“Wow, so opposition to EFCA, opposition to a public health care option, opposition to President Obama’s budget — nope, no signs of being a loyal Democrat here,” Mr. Beeton said. “In fact, I think it’s pretty clear that he will be a consistent stumbling block to President Obama’s agenda, at least that’s what he’s promising to be. Which begs the question, how exactly did that conversation with the president go? If Specter didn’t tell Obama he’ll be a loyal Democrat, did President Obama really tell Specter that he’d campaign for him in the primary?”

BAD MOVIE

“I feel like I have seen this bad gangster movie before,” Kevin Hassett writes at www.bloomberg.com.

“In the opening scene, a naive investor buys some bonds, explaining to his staff that they are a sound investment secured by hard assets. Even if the company goes under, the investor explains, bond investors stand to get about 80 percent of their money back.

“The next day, a government official calls and offers to buy up the bonds at 33 cents on the dollar, while giving controlling interest in the company to the labor unions. The investor refuses. That night, a man shows up at his home.

‘We’re not saying anything bad is going to happen to you,’ the tough says, ‘but the big boss is going to be very disappointed in you if you don’t take the deal. By the way, how’s your little girl? Is she still going to school down on Federal Street?’ The investor caves.

“The evolution of the Chrysler LLC bankruptcy seemed almost as bad. The Obama administration brokered a deal that gave labor unions a 55 percent equity stake in Chrysler, putting their interests ahead of the secured interests of bondholders.

“The bondholder response to the deal was positively creepy,” said Mr. Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

“Politicians were probably offering them a worse deal than they could expect to get in bankruptcy court. Bondholders [who] have been participating in the government bailout program for banks — and thus are especially susceptible to political pressure — agreed to accept the deal. But many of the independent investors balked.”

“Stories circulated that the Treasury Department exerted extreme pressure behind the scenes when investors refused to take the deal. Public pressure was exerted as well.”

STORY LINE

“The Ransom of Red Chief’ is a short story written by O. Henry in the early 1900s about a child kidnapped for ransom in a small town by two criminals,” William A. Jacobson writes at legal insurrection.blogspot.com.

“But the criminals did not know what they were getting into, as the exuberantly mischievous child (nicknamed ‘Red Chief’) drove the criminals so crazy that they keep lowering the ransom price. But Red Chief’s parents would have nothing of it; they demanded money from the kidnappers to take their child back.”

“Apparently not many Democrats read the ‘Ransom of Red Chief,’ or they would not have hooted and hollered so loudly when Arlen Specter announced that he was joining the Democratic caucus,” Mr. Jacobson said.

“Those of us on the right side of the aisle were familiar with the mercurial Specter, and while we didn’t like the fact that the Democrats might (I repeat, might) have obtained a filibuster-proof majority, we can’t say we were sorry to see him go. He drove us crazy.”

“Now the Democrats are sounding like the kidnappers of Red Chief. Senior Democratic senators were upset to learn that Harry Reid had cut a deal allowing Specter (who has been in the Senate since the Ice Age) to keep his seniority.”

“Now the nutroots are beside themselves after hearing Specter’s statement [Sunday] morning on ‘Meet the Press’ that Specter never pledged to be a ‘loyal Democrat’ or to support Obama’s agenda

“If the stakes weren’t so high, watching Specter torment his fellow Democrats would be fun. Now, there remains just one more question: How much will the Democrats pay us to take Specter back?”

A DINO

“Perpetually denigrated as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) during much of his career,” Arlen Specter “has instantly become Pennsylvanian’s most famous DINO: Democrat In Name Only,” Christopher P. Borick writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“A smart fifth-grader with access to Google could put together decades’ worth of votes putting Specter at odds with Democratic positions. From Anita Hill to union card check, there is no shortage of material,” Mr. Borick said.

“And, as recent elections have shown, nothing ramps up Democrats like tying a candidate to [former President George W. Bush]. Even with Bush out of the spotlight, a series of ads reminding Democratic primary voters of the many times Specter went along with the former president could be a potent weapon. Specter’s good friend [Connecticut independent Sen.] Joe Lieberman can attest to the perils of getting too close to Bush.

“A Democratic primary challenger might also be able to undermine one of Specter’s greatest assets: his electability in November. Back in 2004, that helped Specter squeak out the victory over Pat Toomey. But with well over a million more Democrats than Republicans in the commonwealth, any Democrat who is even remotely mainstream can claim to be favored to defeat the GOP nominee. This is especially true if a staunch conservative such as Toomey, the current front-runner, wins the Republican nomination. So Specter’s general election strengths would not be special.

“Finally, will Pennsylvania’s Democratic voters, flush with recent electoral successes, want to settle for Arlen Specter? Party leaders may welcome one more senator, but will rank-and-file Democrats give Specter a pass?”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washington.]times.com.

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