April 28, 2009

Specter turns face


If you care at all about politics, you've heard the news. Longtime Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has flipped: No longer Republican, now a Democrat. One of the few remaining moderates in the GOP's Senate caucus, Specter was feeling alienated; perhaps more importantly, former Rep. Pat Toomey, a far-right conservative, was planning a primary challenge for the '10 election, and had been polling 21 points ahead among PA's likely Republican primary voters.

Now then…besides being reminded of the excitement when a professional wrestler flips from bad guy to good guy ("turns face"), I start to think about which other Republican senators might make the big move. You know, in the middle of an post-match interview, smack his tag-team partner over the head with a chair and declare that he's now buddies with Hulk Ho—er, Barack Obama.

Most likely, in my completely unqualified opinion:

1. Dick Lugar (IN) Obama's buddy, despite being the most senior Republican in the Senate (he took office in 1977). A foreign-affairs whiz, no fool, and no lunatic. I like this guy a lot, and I can't imagine he doesn't see which way the wind is blowing. If it keeps blowing as much as it has for the GOP, Lugar might be smart enough to abandon ship.

2. Olympia Snowe (ME). It's got to be hard to stay a Republican in New England, but Snowe is massively popular . She thinks for herself: pro gay and abortion rights, but pro drug war and Cuba embargo. A lot of right-wing groups label her a RINO; the GOP gets less hospitable by the day for people like her.

3. Susan Collins (ME). Much like Snowe, Collins is that rare moderate Republican, the freshwater manatee of politics. They also have similar stances on the issues, and both are lambasted by lockstep conservatives, though Collins trends a little more to the right; she can be a little overzealous about elimination government programs. In my fantasies, Snowe and Collins flip to the Dems simultaneously (yes, my "fantasies").

4. Lisa Murkowski (AK). Lots of ladies here, but hey—that's the GOP's problem, its inability to accept any viewpoints that don't belong to rich and/or paranoid white guys. Murkowski is another moderate; she's lousy on environmental issues, but since she's from Alaska, I give her somewhat of a pass (they have their own considerations). More importantly, she and Sarah Palin apparently despise each other. If the Hockey Puck retains her role as avenging angel of the whack-job Right, Murkowski might feel like she's being forced into the arms of the enemy.

5. Judd Gregg (NH). The only non-Maine New England Republican senator, Gregg was Obama's first pick for Commerce secretary, but backed out and basically stabbed the President in the back when he claimed he couldn't abide the Democratic agenda. I don't know; I saw Gregg's change of tune to be more a political maneuver than one of principle. As the GOP spirals further down the drain, perhaps he'll have a change of heart. Or maybe he's just another raving maniac, and I should've put George Voinovich here.