The Washington Times - April 29, 2009, 09:50AM


Hitting his stride just as President Obama (more like the media) marks his first 100 days, Michael Steele’s response to the Arlen Specter defection was nothing short of stellar. Upon first reading his written statement I was taken aback, thinking it’s not what I am used to hearing from an RNC chairman as it wasn’t the most articulate response:

“Some in the Republican party are happy about this. I am not. Let’s be honest - Senator Specter did not leave the GOP based on principles. He left to further his political interests.”

Wow. Pretty scathing. Even FOX News anchor Jon Scott noted, on air, that it was the first time he’d ever heard such fierce language from a GOP party chairman. Then again Steele is not your run-of-the-mill Republican Party chairman and today some conservative bloggers are singing his praises. What did impress me was the interview Steele conducted with CNN. While admitting the potential problems this poses for Republicans as the country inches toward a filibuster-proof majority, the chairman repeated his refrain about the Specter spectacle being “about political survival” and then landed the knock-out punch:

“If spending the hard earned dollars of the American people and redistributing their wealth and moving towards a collectivist, socialist approach to government, if that helps you realize that you’re a Democrat then good riddance.”

That, for any clear-thinking Pennsylvania voter should come as a wake-up call. And despite a few “devastated” party leaders, Republicans should count themselves better off.

Practically giddy with excitement were the Democrats, including White House press secretary Robert Gibbs who smiled as he said:

“The president is thrilled to have him.”

And the speed with which the “bipartisan” President Obama phoned Specter straight away Tuesday followed by a White House welcoming ceremony for the senator today, proved nothing short of calculated.

-Tara Wall is an editor at The Washington Times and editor of