John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Running Away to Fight Another Day

Posted on April 28, 2009


  I think it was Bart Maverick who said he who runs away lives to run away another day.



  It looks like Arlen Specter has learned from that philosophy.  He is running away from Pat Toomey in the Republican primary so that he can survive long enough to beat him in the general election. 



  But Mr. Maverick’s philosophy doesn’t always work in politics.



  I was on MSNBC tonight, and Joe Sestack, the freshman Democratic Congressman, seemed to be itching to take the new Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania on in a primary fight.



  Specter is a pro-choice Republican, so that should help him in some quarters.  But through his long history, he has rubbed quite a few people the wrong way.  Remember Anita Hill?  Women’s groups were furious at Mr. Specter for his pointed questioning of Ms. Hill’s quite unlikely story.



  Changing parties is never an easy thing.  You alienate your old team and your new team just doesn’t seem to trust you. 



  I remember when Greg Laughlin, a Democrat from Texas decided that being a Republican was a better move for his career.  He lost the next election in a Republican primary.



  Specter’s reasons for leaving were pretty straightforward.  He thought he would lose the primary fight against Patrick Toomey, a right-wing conservative if there ever was one.  But his path to becoming a Senator is still not assured.



  The Senate Republican leadership did their best to keep him.  Senator Cornyn, the Senate campaign chair, even did a statement endorsing him against his younger opponent.  Six years ago, his ex-counterpart, Rick Santorum, and President Bush all campaign hard for him.  Without that conservative backing, he wouldn’t have won.



  But it’s a new day here in the nation’s Capitol.  And what happened six years ago is no longer relevant in the world of Arlen Specter.



  No matter how you slice it, this isn’t good for the GOP.  It seems intent on internal fratricide, which will only send a signal to moderates that they don’t need to apply.  And we lose whatever leverage we had in preventing the Democrats from getting to sixty.



  But the good news is that now the Democrats have no excuses.  They have 60 votes in the Senate, they have a big majority in the House, they have a very liberal President in the White House.  If they can’t get their agenda done, no matter how hard they try, they can’t blame the GOP.