Wednesday, April 29, 2009

There Goes Arlen

Someone please pinch me. Every day in every way it just keeps getting better and better. The GOP is about to go the way of the Whig and the Know Nothing parties. And it isn't even death by natural causes. We're talking full-blown, national suicide here. This can only be described as a hopeful development. In fact it's too good to be true. Am I dreaming this?

I heard an interesting point of fact on television yesterday morning. More Americans believe in ghosts and flying saucers than identify themselves as Republicans these days. Isn't that a scream?

The Grand Old Party is in the process of imploding. It is now almost exclusively identified with reactionary, white southern males. It would seem that Weeda Peeple are starting to wake up to some seriously nasty little realities. One of those realities is the fact that these hideously foolish people have done more damage to this once-great nation than Osama bin Laden could ever have hoped to do. Once upon a time it was cool (at least to some minds anyway) to be a Republican. Today it is down right embarrassing. They have become the political equivalent of the powder-blue, polyester leisure suit.

Arlen Specter's defection from that hideous party should not shock anyone (although it is a pleasant surprise). He always seemed to be an imperfect albeit perfectly reasonable man. It was more-than-apparent that he was uncomfortable at times associating with the ideological jackasses his party affiliation forced him to come into contact with on a daily basis. His occasional defense of the indefensible always appeared halfhearted at best. Who can blame the poor guy for getting the hell out of there while the getting is good?

Almost three years ago on June 2, 2006, the very first piece I wrote on this site was called George W, Bush: The Last Republican President:

"Please stop soiling the memory of one of the greatest presidents in history by calling it "the party of Lincoln". Don't ever call it that again. Abraham Lincoln's influence on the Republican party ended at exactly 7:22 in the morning on April 15, 1865 when he breathed his last breath."

The last Republican president? At the time I believed it to be mere wishful thinking on my part. Now I'm not so sure. No political party could possibly be expected to survive the fallout from the economic carnage wrought by the GOP during the last thirty years. The damage is now so complete that even the American electorate (not the brightest bunch on the planet, I'm sorry to say) are beginning to put two and two together. They have awaken from the right wing coma that they've been slumbering under since the day in 1980 when they naively sent Ronald Reagan to the White House. They have opened their eyes and have taken a long, hard look at the political landscape - and it's not a pleasant picture; in fact it's a very disturbing one.

There's no longer any rational way to deny it: although there are more than a few Democrats at whose doorstep the blame for this mess may be rightfully laid, it was the Republicans who did this to us. It is obvious that Arlen Specter - along with the great majority of the American people - has figured this out.


You would think that these silly elephants would want to undergo a bit of an image makeover, wouldn't you? You would think that given the current extremist image of their party nationwide, they would seek to nurture intelligent moderates like Specter, would you not? Yeah, I would, too. We both would be wrong, though.

In Pennsylvania, some idiotic group that went by the name of "Club For Change" decided that a mushy moderate like poor old Arlen was too much of a left winger for their tastes and they starting promoting the candidacy of some shrill drone named Pat Toomey to challenge the senator in the Republican primaries next year. Specter saw the writing on the wall and decided to come back home to the party of FDR (he used to be a Democrat). Although he is now dead to most Republicans, he has gone on to a much better place. Rest his soul.

When Michelle Malkin learned of Specter's defection, her response was classic right wing idiocy. Instead of going into an detailed analysis of the reasons why he would want to leave, she sounded more like a half-witted fourteen-year-old in the midst of a temper tantrum. It reminded me of an old Lesley Gore song:

"We have just ten words for you, Arlen Specter: Don't let the door hit you on the way out!!!".

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to! That statement in a nutshell is perfectly illustrative of the much larger problem. It is also is a textbook example of the arrogance of the overwhelming majority of Conservative spokespersons. They did need Specter. They needed him desperately. Arlen Specter's exit was merely another nail in the slowly-closing coffin of their political fortunes. They are no longer a national party but merely a regional one - their major sphere of influence being limited solely to the deep south. That may very well be someone's definition of "a party" - but it's a private party. You and I aren't invited.

The Progressive wing of the Republican party died in 1912 when Teddy Roosevelt had the nomination stolen out from under him after decisively defeating incumbent William Howard Taft in the primaries. The moderate wing, once personified by people like Everett Dirkson, Milicent Fenwick and Nelson Rockefeller, is on its death bed. I am convinced that were Richard Nixon to come back from the dead tonight to seek the nomination from these freaks, he would be dismissed as too liberal. As far as the north east is concerned, the last centrist holdouts are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. If they know what's good for them, they'll both jump that sinking ship really soon - much like Jim Jeffords of Vermont did in 2001, forever incurring the wrath of the Bush Mob. In an OpEd piece in this morning's New York Times, Senator Snowe wrote a piece that was sympathetic to the reason for Specter's departure:

"We can't continue to fold our philosophical tent into an umbrella under which only a select few are worthy to stand. Rather, we should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal. That is the political road map we must follow to victory."

Good for her! Only a fool would argue with that very eloquent statement. There's only one little problem. The Republicans ceded control of their party to a cabal of half-witted extremists and kooks a very long time ago - 1964 to be exact. That was the year that Barry Goldwater was forced to accept the nomination on a platform that even he found nauseating. Don't expect any of these knuckleheads to hand over the reigns of power to more thoughtful moderates like Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter any time soon. The longer they retain the power, the deeper the Republican party will become divorced from political reality, spiraling headlong into the abyss of irrelevancy.

Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are at this minute, you may be sure, doing somersaults in their graves. The grand old party is over - I'm almost certain of that. The fact is, the people who are running that train wreck of a party (people like Michael Steele for instance) aren't visionary enough (or smart enough) to send it in a new and fruitful direction. The next few years will only see their continued self destruction. Isn't life wonderful?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


To my beloved niece, Marieke Catherine Pennings who was born on April 29, 1989, twenty years ago today. Happy birthday, Riekie Roo! I've never been able to figure out how the heck I managed to survive the first thirty years of my life without you!

Uncle Tom


At 6:50 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Tom, I'm not sure I agree with your supposition that "Weeda Peeple are starting to wake up and face some nasty little realities". I'm more inclined to believe that people like to be associated with winners. For example, who among this nation's baseball fans counted themselves as dyed-in-the-wool Yankees fans in 1995? There weren't too many outside the New York metro area. But, with the advent of their 1996 world championship and their current at-the-top, or close to it, dynasty, you find loyal fans everywhere in the country. And most are people who have never even been to New York.

It's the same with Arlen Specter. He sees the handwriting on the wall. His attitude is, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." No, I don't think you should put so much confidence in the American people. It's more a case of jumping on the bandwagon.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Maybe you're on to something, Frank.

By the way, I never paid much attention to the Yankees in the past - BUT I SURE AS HELL WILL NOW. They tore down the historic landmark - YANKEE STADIUM - for no other reason than to cater to there super wealthy patrons (private boxes). Now I will be keeping score and I'll be praying - that they lose!My prayers are being answered, I think.



At 9:44 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom, Again you hit the nail on the head. Last week when you wrote about coddling dictators, I commented (and you agreed) that the Republicans are pathetic. I am beginning to think it is now beyond pathetic; they are fast becoming appalling as well as clueless and laughable. McConnell actually said that it was dangerous to have only one party in control. And this after the Republicans foisting their flawed agenda on the 'Merican Peeple.

It simply staggers the mind to see that they can do nothing but dig in their heels and do nothing constructive, but simply obstruct, and then sit back and whine that they are being left out of the process. Life must be nice when you never get your head out of your (or someone else's) behind.

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I believe Specter is jumping ship to save his own hide. He is concerned that he won't be electable as a Repug, so he is changing party affiliation. I saw him interviewed, and he was opposed to most of the legislation the Dems are working on now. WTF? I am not sure how I would feel if someone I helped elect suddently changed parties. Betrayed? Disenfranchised?

Yes, I know this is good news for the Dems as it increases their numbers, but I fear it is name only. I guess time and his voting record will tell. I am more excited to see Al Franken seated. He is a true Dem and I think will be a fresh voice on the hill.

Not to seem anti-oldfart, but seriously, at what age should representatives and justices have to retire? My Mom is a few yrs older than Specter, and I sure wouldn't want her in charge. Her mind closed like a trap door 20 yrs ago, and nothing new gets in. She is certain of how the world is and how it should be (aka the 1950's) and all this newfangled technology is somehow brainwashing us all. I think we need younger, open minds leading us in this rapidly changing world.

Thanks for the great rant!

Jo in AZ

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom. Where did you find that quote from Newt Gingrich ("Good riddance, we don't need him.)? I don't see it anywhere else but on your blog.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


Actually I heard it second hand - from Joe Scarborough this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe. I have done a fairly thorough search and have not been able to find it anywhere else. Perhaps Joe was mistaken or perhaps I misunderstood him.

I have changed it with a quotation from Michelle Malkin which makes the point just as well. Thank you for pointing that out to me. We like to keep things fair and accurate here at the editorial office of the Rant! Much appreciated.


Tom Degan

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous John said...

Tom, even if the republican party completely disappeared, another party would immediately materialize to take up its place as the ideological 'opposites' of the democrats. The notion is that the entire political spectrum is somehow contained within a one dimensional line. The really crazy part is that so many people accept this illusion that is presented by the 'one party of corruption' for reality.

>>They tore down the historic landmark - YANKEE STADIUM - for no other reason than to cater to there super wealthy patrons

Check out the history of Bush's ownership of the Rangers. He bought in prior to the the huge asset of a new stadium (primarily taxpayer funded) being added to the inventory - then cashed out. I would expect that the majority of these stadium deals screw the taxpayers of their money.

Jo, "and all this newfangled technology is somehow brainwashing us all."Isn't that a little sci-fi...

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Jo (in Arizona), the tone of your remark seems to suggest that all senior citizens are close-minded and incapable of change. I hope you realize the fallacy of your inference. Just because your mother is older and close-minded, it does not follow that all older people are necessarily, by virtue of their age, that way also.

I can think of many young "leaders" (and I use this term loosely) who are close-minded and seemingly incapable of change. I don't believe age has a monopoly on this trait. I trust you'd agree.

Please remember, although many seniors may lack the energy and quickness of their younger counterparts, they more than make up for this perceived liability with their wisdom and keen perspective.

Peace and understanding...

Jefferson's Guardian

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

Great name for the Republicans - The New Know Nothing Party.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, thanks again for the sense of perspective and the history lesson. By the way, my dad owned a leisure suit--mint green. Ghastly thing...

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JG and John

The "newfangled technology" is a quote that my Mom makes whenever we talk about emails we have received from various family members. She rightly feels left out, but has not attempted to learn more about it. I know most Seniors are NOT like my mother, but I think she is good representative of the typical Faux News viewer. That is her favorite news source, and you can not argue with her about the validity of their reporting. That is a Taboo subject at her house.

I am just wondering how effective you are in your 80's and 90's as a Representative. I put my statement out there as a question to all if there SHOULD be age limits at both ends - to begin serving and to retire. Now that we are living longer, should someone serve until they are in their dotage? If they continue to get elected by their constituents, than more power to 'em. But the Justices serve for life. Good? Bad? I am not sure. I am half their age and can't keep up with the world! LOL

Thanks for the feedback!

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous John said...

Jo, age isn't the most important factor. Robert Byrd is one of the better senators and he is headed toward triple digits. I also suspect that your mom would kick Alberto Gonzales' ass in a memory competition...

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Good evening Jo. I'm certain I'd have to agree with John's comment, above mine, should the opportunity ever present itself. I'm sure former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will eventually get another chance to exhibit his memory capabilities once the current AG decides to investigate and prosecute those in the previous administration responsible for allowing the crime of torture to become the law-of-the-land. Personally, that day won't arrive soon enough for me.

I'd like to take this time to formally apologize for my previous remarks. Although I disagree with you regarding age limitations on the high end, I regret chastising you for your opinions on this subject. As you're aware, the Constitution sets three requirements for both representatives and senators, one being that members of the lower chamber have to be at least twenty-five years old and those of the upper chamber required to be at least thirty. Personally, I feel an age restriction at the other end is unnecessary and counterproductive. Let the voters of each district or state make the call. If each is incapable of serving the people who put them into office, they'll know soon enough. I'd rather the localities and the states have this call, instead of some arbitrary law that may force otherwise effective lawmakers into retirement. Instead of age restrictions, I'd look more favorably upon basic intelligence requirements and standards. I cite Senator Michele Bachmann of Minnesota as just one example.

Although I'm not a fan of Arlen Specter, he has displayed moments where he's looked after the best interests of his state, and the country as a whole, despite the unwillingness of others in his party to compromise.

Again, please let me extend my sincerest apologies for my rude and berating attitude. I'm truly sorry.


Jefferson's Guardian

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Pardon me, but I incorrectly and stupidly bestowed the title of "Senator" upon Michele Bachmann in my previous post. As we all know, the fine people of Minnesota certainly would never had done that. Apparently, only those in Minnesota's 6th District had the audacity to send someone like Representative Bachmann to Washington.

If there's anyone on Tom's blog who knows how this could have happened, please enlighten me. Every time I see her on TV, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

At 12:34 AM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

This week's historic move to the Deomcratic party by Senator Specter has given me yet another reason to be proud to be from Pennsylvania. Back when I didn't pay much attention to national and local politics, I always thought that based on his views and voting record that good old Arlen WAS a Democrat. I felt a little dumb when I learned otherwise but it's okay now, I suppose!

I've always admired the politician who votes based on his or her conscience not along party lines. I may not agree with everything he's done (i.e. "THE SINGLE BULLET THEORY"!!!) but I'm glad he's once again going with his conscience and is boldly helping to change the face of this country.

Another bonus - conservative radio has never been funnier! These poor guys don't know what to do right now...

As to comparing him with the New York Yankees - please...let's not "go there." Gee, let me think...who won the World Series last year?? Oh, yeah, The Philadelphia Phllies! Hmm...maybe it's a Pennsylvania thing - doing an honest day's work to get the job done while doing it fairly, honestly and remembering the value of teamwork! (I stress the honesty part considering the fact that Ryan Howard and the Phillies' other great hitters deserve a lot more attention then A-Rod considering they've NEVER failed a drug test...but I digress)

I'm glad Arlen's on our side now...maybe more people will be on his...and not because he jumped ship. Have you seen this guy who may run against him? Man - if that's what they call a member of "Lincoln's party"! SORRY, Tom, so sorry - won't refer to it as that again - after all, he was called "Honest Abe" for a reason. My mom said it best the other day, "Ew, he looks about as honest as Nixon did in 1960 - who is this guy, and do they really expect me to trust him and vote for him??" Of course, she was referring to the shifty-eyed, sweaty Nixon of the great debates of 1960..way to go, Mom. She nailed it!

Great blog and a good history lesson.

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous toobigtowail said...

Arlen Specter a democrat, whoopee! Joe Lieberman is also a democrat, so what does that say about the democratic party. We as liberals have been subjected to the conservative ideology for so long that we have lost sight of what a truly progressive liberal stands for. The political landscape has been pushed so far to the right that we are giddy over the fact that a Pa. senator has "defected" to the democratic party. The way I see it is the democratic party has moved far enough to the right that he feels comfortable joining them. Look at Specter's voting record on issues like Iraq and Patriot Act to name a few. I agree with J G about American's liking to be associated with winners. It' much easier to drink the kool-aid than to disect an issue and engage in an intelligent dialouge. Let's be honest with ourselves, the majority of Americans don't like to think. They would rather be spoon fed their sound bites of "news" through the corporate controlled media then flip over to American Idol or Dancing with the Stars so as not to look stupid at the next days water cooler conversation. Tom I am the same age as you are and I am truly amazed at your undying loyalty to a party that is as lost as the republicans. You grew up in the 60's, a time when the American electorate was truly engaged in the political process. That spirit does not exist today and never will until the citizenry turns off their mind numbing "talking walls' (read Farenheit 451) and start to think for themselves. Kill your TV and set free the tortured spirit of Edward R. Murrow.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous John said...

"...your TV...", do you suppose this is some of the newfangled brainwashing technology Jo's mom spoke of?

Didn't Bradbury refer to it as CodeName lcd1080p?

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Timba said...

Jefferson's Guardian said...
Pardon me, but I incorrectly and stupidly bestowed the title of "Senator" upon Michele Bachmann in my previous post.

In at least partial answer to your question as to how Michele Bachmann could be elected in Minnesota try doing a search on Stearns county syndrome, combine that with religious fundamentalism througout her district and stir briskly.....instant elected nut job. The rest of us in Minnesota can only watch in dismay every time she finds a forum to vomit her nonsense on.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

Anyone started the pool on when Michael Steele (and the rest of the nation) is relieved of his "position?"

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Yeah, waif, I imagine that in a matter of weeks poor old Michael will be resigning "in order to spend more time with my family"

That's a pretty safe bet.

Tom Degan

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

Pelicans also eat their young.Party Switch Costs Specter His Seniority on Senate Committees
Paul Kane, The Washington Post:
"The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats. In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter's tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats. Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress."

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Other than Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold, I sometimes wonder if the Democrats in the senate have half a brain between them. By stripping Specter of his seniority, they have virtually guaranteed that other more moderate Republicans (Snowe and Collins of Main for example) won't cross over to the their side. Could these people possibly get any stupider?


Tom Degan

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

It's not only that; they lose the continuity of 29 years of knowledge and insider intelligence on the "game day" plans of the GOP for Election Day 2012.

They really kicked it. This gives the guy in PA who is in Congress, at present, the primary (What's one Junior Senator vs another? Same type of Committee Appointments).

So, they dropped the sword of Damocles on Arlen and put up the lines for Snow and Collins.

To quote Forrest Gump:
"Stupid is as stupid does."


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