Arlen Specter

Panic to Win
May 19, 2010

Pittsburgh—Almost all the shibboleths of Washington conventional wisdom took a hit in Tuesday's voting. Yet advocates of a single national political narrative clung to the difficulties of two incumbent Democratic senators to keep spinning the same old tale. It's true that the idea of incumbents and party establishments being in trouble won some support from the defeat of Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's failure to avoid a runoff in Arkansas. But the races tell different stories. Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat who was defeated by Rep.

The Center Wins. Again.
May 19, 2010

True partisans don’t like to hear this—Texas Democrat Jim Hightower used to say, “There is nothing in the middle of the road, but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”—but American elections are most often battles for the political center. Whoever can marginalize their opponent by identifying them with the far left or right is likely to win. By that measure, the Democrats can be pleased with the results of the May 18 elections.

Tea Minus Zero
May 19, 2010

Liberals have responded to the Tea Party movement by reaching a comforting conclusion: that there is no way these guys can possibly be for real. The movement has variously been described as a “front group for the Republican party” and a “media creation”; Paul Krugman has called Tea Party rallies “AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects.” I can understand why liberals would want to dismiss the Tea Party movement as an inauthentic phenomenon; it would certainly be welcome news if it were.

A Very Good Night For Democrats
May 18, 2010

Here are the important developments of the night, in ascending order of importance: 1. Joe Sestak beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. I think this makes the Democrats marginally more likely to hold the Senate seat. Toomey is a radical candidate, and Sestak's win strips him of the anti-incumbent sentiment that's his best shot. That's worth more to the democrats than Specter's superior political polish. 2. Democrats will run Jack Conway against Rand Paul. This puts the Kentucky Senate seat in play -- Rand is the favorite but Conway has a shot.

May 18, 2010

Whether you like the old codger or not, Arlen Specter knows how to win elections. At least that’s what he and his surrogates have been telling Pennsylvania voters—over and over again—in his dead-heat senatorial primary race with Joe Sestak. “People recognize that I am the only guy who can beat” GOP challenger Pat Toomey, Specter told CNN on Sunday. Sestak “can’t do it.” Meanwhile the state Democratic chairman, T.J.

Outside Right
May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON—This year's elections may exacerbate the difference between our two political parties, but not in the way most people are talking about. With incumbent Democratic Senators under threat in two more primaries on Tuesday, the conventional view is that Republicans and Democrats will emerge from this election more ideologically polarized than ever. Primaries will push Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left. That's only half true. Republicans will, indeed, end the year a more philosophically coherent right-wing party.

The Ten Biggest Issues Elena Kagan Will Face
May 09, 2010

Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog, where this piece was originally posted. Here is how I think the nomination process is likely to play out. I divide it into process and substance. First, the process: Note the relationship between Monday’s announcement and the Senate calendar. There are seven weeks between Monday and June 28.

Sarcasm Explanation
May 06, 2010

Last fall I wrote an item mocking Frank Rich for comparing a conservative Republican primary challenger to a "purge": So wait. Some GOP hacks appointed a relative moderate to represent a district that could probably sustain a much more conservative representative, and conservatives are trying to elect a more right-wing alternative.

Specter of Defeat
May 05, 2010

Just over a year ago, Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak was seriously weighing a Senate bid in Pennsylvania against then-Republican Arlen Specter, but he wanted one last word of sage advice. So he called up his former boss, Bill Clinton, for whom he’d served as director for defense policy on the National Security Council, and, according to Sestak, “he invited me over to sit down with him over at his home in Georgetown.” But the meeting didn’t go exactly as planned. “Just as I walked in,” Sestak says, “an aide came up and said, ‘Did you hear?

A "Purge"? Oh, Heavens, No.
May 04, 2010

Former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has an unintentionally funny item entitled, "A Conservative Insurgency, Not A Purge." He writes: In the Washington Post today, I explain that far from a “purge movement” aimed at accumulating “RINO pelts,” DeMint is leading a carefully targeted effort to elect a handful of real conservatives who will help him fight for fiscal discipline and conservative values in the Senate. What, you may ask, is the difference between a purge and an insurgency designed to elect real believers in your side's ideology?