Can Arlen Specter Save The Netroots?

Atrios writes (citing Josh Marshall):

The only way to get [Specter] to do the right thing is to have a credible primary challenger in the wings, whether that's Sestak or someone else.

Yesterday, I wrote Make Them All Work For It, arguing that the idea of holding Specter to account applies to all of our Dem pols - from Obama on down. I know everyone is ready to primary Jane Harman, and I am glad to hear it. But it should not just be Specter and Harman being held to account. What's most interesting about Specter is that the Netroots is prepared to defy President Obama for once (Obama has promised Specter his full support.) That is a good sign. See, e.g., Markos here - "[T]he party bigwigs who think they can deprive the Democratic primary electorate of democracy versus a new net- and grassroots army taking control of their own destiny." The head bigwig of course is named President Barack Obama.

Speaking for me only

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    I'd love it. (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Joelarama on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:04:06 PM EST
    It might remind me why I ever cared about the Netroots.

    Can't 'we' come up with a (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by oldpro on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:11:59 PM EST
    black female primary candidate to make it really fun?

    How about some serious payback (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Cream City on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:08:10 PM EST
    and getting him to agree that he will support Obama's SCOTUS nominee, no matter what -- including a black female law professor by the name of Anita Hill.

    Oh my (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by sj on Wed May 06, 2009 at 09:06:19 AM EST
    That thought briefly took my breath away.

    Hahaha. Oh, and Joe Biden also (none / 0) (#41)
    by Cream City on Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:36:59 AM EST
    has to support Prof. Hill wholeheartedly in a very public mea culpa. And then has to keep his mouth shut, because who knows what he would say next?

    heh (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:14:07 PM EST
    Can Specter save the Republic... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by kdog on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:14:09 PM EST
    by enabling us to finally see through the two-party con-job?  

    A D after your reps name might look prettier than an R, might make you feel better, but it is essentially a meaningless decoration if they don't legislate for the good of the nation...maybe Specter's switcheroo will help us all realize this fact...its the votes and policy that count, the party is a meaningless ruse.

    Do you even bother to vote? (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:19:00 PM EST
    The natural implication of what you're saying is that elections don't matter.

    I vote in most every election.... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:28:25 PM EST
    I just ignore the letter after the names of the candidates and vote for the best man/woman for the job based on what I know of their views and history...imo, so should everybody else.

    In my mind voting straight D or R without knowing the candidates plans or views is worse than not voting.


    I think (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:33:01 PM EST
    that if Specter is allowed to get away with his little switcheroo it will go a long way toward making your argument that party affiliation is meaningless.

    LIEberman wounded the idea that loyalty to a party and a platform meant anything to the power elites.  this will finish it off.



    Democratic Politicians (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:39:19 PM EST
    who supported the CFL candidate over the duly selected Democratic candidate proved that the Democratic Party only requires party loyalty from voters and not from Democratic politicians. A one way street.

    I think (and I could be wrong here) (none / 0) (#17)
    by coast on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:35:17 PM EST
    that he is saying quite the opposit.  I believe his comment is more of an indictment against those who simply vote a straight ticket rather than actually understanding what each candidates position is on the issues they care about.  Could be completely misreading him though.

    And rest assured that kdog is in that booth, perhaps multiple times, if there is something to do with legalization.


    I completely agree (none / 0) (#21)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:51:09 PM EST
    And Mr. Obama the waffling middleman is simply helping that concept along.

    And me, I don't vote in presidential elections anymore.  The presidential choice is controlled by the media, which is controlled by major corporations.  The masses follow along. It's not worth my ink.


    You've got Obama all wrong... (none / 0) (#28)
    by magster on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:45:53 PM EST
    Obama knew that by proclaiming public support for Specter would give Specter the illusion of being able to sabotage Obama like he did in his first week, thereby making a primary and an actual Democratic Senator in 2010 more likely.  It's all playing out perfectly.

    heh (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by andgarden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:59:48 PM EST
    Let's remember two things (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by scribe on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:33:03 PM EST
    about primary challenges to established incumbents:

    1.  The kind of incumbent behavior and conditions (fecklessly ignoring the popular will of voters, corruption, etc.) that engender or make an insurgent primary challenge thinkable (in the practical sense) also make for multiple primary challengers seeing their opportunity and taking it.  Those multiple challengers will, far more often than not, have the net effect of diverting the anti-incumbent support to one or the other among them, most often leading to the incumbent winning by a plurality while the combined total of the insurgent votes would have won, had they been around one candidate.

    Everyone realizes it and knows it will happen, but the insurgents usually have too much ego investment in their candidacy (and pollsters and staff sucking up payroll, whispering in the candidate's ear what the candidate wants to hear) to see that the best interests of the voters - getting rid of the incumbent - requires the weaker insurgents to step aside and throw their support behind the strongest among them.

    Thus, if there is going to be a primary, there should be one good primary challenger around whom all the insurgent energy can be focused.  The objective is removing the incumbent and not fratricide.

    2.  It is not too early to go on the offensive against the incumbent, particularly when he is as fat a target as Specter.  There's a near-fifty-year history in Specter.  

    He was the DA in Philly when Police Commissioner (and later mayor) Frank Rizzo said that his police force would "make Attila the Hun look like a f#ggot".  Did nothing.

    He's lost primaries before.

    Anita Hill.

    Shepherding both Bushes' judicial appointments.

    And the issues just keep coming.  

    In reality, all that needs happen is to start some cheap radio ads - run a tape of Specter saying he won't be a loyal Democrat and ask "why should any Democrats vote for you, then?"  Or, even just thank him for his clarity without even mentioning voting.  (that will likely help avoid and electioneering issues)  You don't need a candidate for that.  

    Some cheap ads and start some grassroots organizing.  Obama won his campaign by organizing grassroots - the netroots are excellent at that sort of organizing.

    And, we need to thank Specter for giving up his seat as an exercise in building the netroots.

    Why do you hate Obama? (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by lambert on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:40:56 PM EST
    [rimshot. laughter]

    Ha! (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by ruffian on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:23:24 PM EST
    I will be watching for the first netroot denizen who calls for Sestak to drop out of the race after the first debate.

    In other words (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by ruffian on Tue May 05, 2009 at 04:49:21 PM EST

    Why won't that stupid Admiral quit?


    About which netroots are you speaking? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Farmboy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:54:36 PM EST
    The one whose purpose is to help Markos sell books?  The one that aggrandizes Arianna by surrounding her with celebrity bloggers?  Or the one that keeps Josh Marshall's doppleganger supplied with interns?  That group can join geocities before they get any of my support.

    You know what? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:14:35 PM EST
    All of them can work towards a common purpose that I can support.

    I do not mind Markos and Arianna making money off of this SO LONG AS there is a Common Good result.


    it's a matter of definition, I guess (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Farmboy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:54:30 PM EST
    You posed the question of the netroots being "saved" by Specter thinking that he gets a pass because he changed parties, and the support for a progressive primary challenger that could create.  Great idea, and couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

    But then you quoted Markos as one of the netroots.  And that's where I raise my hand in objection, because that term used to mean something else. Something special for all of us, not just those with A-list blogs, book deals, and appearances on TV to schedule. And it didn't have a TM notice attached to it.


    In truth Specter has brought nothing (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by ChiTownMike on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:07:01 PM EST
    to the table. To even say a primary challenge is a good thing is sort of short sighted because had he stayed a Republican we would have challenged him in the general election anyway. And it could be said we would have presented a stronger challenge there with two Democrats primaring  each other and hopefully the stronger of the two meeting Specter for the win. To have to primary Specter actually dilutes our choices.

    Markos' and Arianna's Common Good! (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ChiTownMike on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:01:12 PM EST
    That's a laugh. Their common good is based on their common good! Neither of them has done a thing for the common good of the netroots. Purely income base are their sites. Both ex-republicans to boot who just pay lip service to progressives because that is where they can make money.

    Frankly, I'm happy they are making (none / 0) (#27)
    by scribe on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:29:51 PM EST
    some money off this, because it means it's not a fool's errand.

    If no one were willing to pay for what the blogosphere puts out, we'd all be in even deeper than we already are.


    Advertisers are not (none / 0) (#36)
    by ChiTownMike on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:41:27 PM EST
    paying specifically for what the blogosphere puts out. They are paying strictly for eyeballs and could care less about what people are writing about. I see very few ads targeted to the Left other than political ads that are seasonal. Other than that think of blog advertising as a roadside billboards where targeted demographics, except in rare cases, is not a major consideration.

    I was reading yesterday (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:56:24 PM EST
    that if Specter votes against Card Check labor is going to get behind Sestak.  I guess Sestak had big meetings with labor leaders in the last couple of days.  so the nutroots wont be alone.

    This is a little (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:08:41 PM EST
    no, a lot off-topic and we don't have an open thread. But I loved it, so I'm posting it:

    Econ haiku of the day (unattributed, but taken from the Seattle Times)

    The stress tests are done
    Surprise -- many banks are fine
    Now, go buy that bridge

    Good point. (none / 0) (#2)
    by lilburro on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:08:48 PM EST
    That would be a welcome shift in tone.  I look forward to the day Specter starts his Dkos account.  Sestak has a lot of support in his district and could make a real run for it.  Especially in a primary.  BUT if Obama actually campaigns with Specter, who knows what will happen (but it would be kind of odd for the President to campaign for someone in a primary race, wouldn't it?)  All h*ll might break loose.

    On a related note, Gillibrand is back on DKos.  I appreciate that.  

    Specter on Dkos. . . (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:10:11 PM EST
    That'll be the day!

    Absolutely (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:09:45 PM EST
    I welcome Sestak into the primary--though I'd rather it were Pat Murphy.

    In any case, Specter doesn't have a choice at this point: he's going to have to improve his Democratic credentials.

    I can hear it now (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lilburro on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:23:23 PM EST
    "Don't beat up Specter in the primary!!  You'll ruin him for the general election!!"

    That is what Markos (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by ChiTownMike on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:50:02 PM EST
    said during the Democratic gubernatorial primary a few years back. He advocated to not have the primary contestants beat up on each other. And then what did he do during the presidential primaries? Beat up on one of the contestants! That is why I don't even listen to, much less pay attention to what most so called progressive bloggers even say. They preach one thing and then do another. Phonies. In Markos' case he is as far from a progressive as you can get to his own admission.

    I am curious (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:29:52 PM EST
    what makes you think that Specter will not do whatever he needs to do until Nov of 2010 and then toss us all under the bus?

    he has all but said he will do that if it suites him.


    the upside to that is (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by CST on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:33:46 PM EST
    the next two years.  What we can accomplish between now and 2010.  That's why it would be nice if Franken was seated YESTERDAY.

    I dont disagree (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:41:32 PM EST
    but then there is 6 more.
    I say keep him in line with a primary threat and then defeat him in the primary.

    I guess (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:09:59 PM EST
    We should not focus on the fact that these people are extremely late in coming to the party, but instead embrace the fact that they showed up at all.

    Who isnt focused on that fact? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Thanin on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:14:34 PM EST
    The op itself is based on it...

    We assume a lot (none / 0) (#34)
    by Saul on Tue May 05, 2009 at 02:42:27 PM EST
    How do we know how the Philadelphia electorate really like Specter.  Do most democrats there see him as an opportunist?   Maybe they say yeah you call yourself a democrat now but not because you really believed in our causes you just shifted because you knew you were going to lose in the Rep primary.

    So even if Obama backs Specter and you were a voter in Philadelphia  knowing what you know about Specter  and you had the option to vote for Specter or some other democrat running against Specter would you vote for Specter or the other democrat.

    I think more  will vote for the other democrat and not Specter even with Obama's backing of Specter.

    Which ever democrats runs against Specter will use his switching from Rep to Dem for political expediency in their campaign ads.  I can see the ads now.  

    When does Dkos and Huffington as well as DU (none / 0) (#35)
    by AX10 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 03:04:40 PM EST
    get on board and demand Sestak drop out (even before jumping in)?  Most likely they have lined up behind Specter as they will do as Obama orders them to do.

    I understand if Specter goes against the EFCA, the unions will pull out all of the stops to get Sestak the nomination.  The unions vs. Rendell is going to be interesting.  Though I like Rendell, this political stunt may cost the Democrats the mansion in Harrisburg.  The unions may also field another candidate against Rendell's hand chosen successor to the nomination.

    Check your facts before posting (none / 0) (#39)
    by Repack Rider on Wed May 06, 2009 at 12:11:43 AM EST
    Most likely they have lined up behind Specter as they will do as Obama orders them to do.

    How do you have an opinion on a site that you clearly do not read?  Obama gets zero slack there.  Specter is despised on DKos and Sestak is being encouraged to primary him.  That makes you exactly 180-degrees wrong.  You should check the place out; it's hardly monolithic.

    Sestak is conservative on some issues, but he'll beat Specter head to head in a (D) primary.


    Obama gets a lot of slack there (none / 0) (#42)
    by Cream City on Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM EST
    last I looked, quite recently from a link here -- but I'm glad the slack is not across the board, so that there is some sense on this issue of Specter.

    I'm also glad that you went there for us.  Thanks.


    Would that it were not so but (none / 0) (#43)
    by lentinel on Wed May 06, 2009 at 08:20:46 PM EST
    I think that If Kos thinks there is a "net- and grassroots army", he is delusional.

    oh come off it (none / 0) (#44)
    by Bornagaindem on Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:53:12 PM EST
    if his oliness says Arlen is his guy then he is it. If you think the democratic leadership doesn't know it can dictate to you poor proletariats whatever the hell it wants to you were not watching and did not understand what happened in the presidential primary.