Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Frightening Specter Of A Looming Snowe Drift

Soon, all the snorting about Arlen Specter will be over. Those seeking the holey grail of a Reagan-Goldwater renaissance (despite the likelihood that pining for a 21st century facsimile of the former will almost certainly bring about a candidacy with the general election prospects of the latter) will eventually tire of saying good riddance and questioning Specter's motives.

Those who think that Specter's defection is good news because having all this power means the Democrats inevitably will fail -- this cohort will have had its say and will go back to sitting around and waiting for something to go so horrifically wrong in the country or world that the Republicans (all 21% of them) can rise from the ashes.

And then there are the Democrats who don't seem especially happy about the new kid, either, perhaps because they fear that his influence and that of other moderates and independents will make it easier for the Democrats to dominate the center but at the expense, undoubtedly, of elements of the left-liberal agenda. They too will eventually move on to other distractions.

And then Republicans will be left with this calm statement of an unavoidable and irreducible truth, as stated this morning by Specter's friend and fellow moderate, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine):

Senator Specter indicated that his decision was based on the political situation in Pennsylvania, where he faced a tough primary battle. In my view, the political environment that has made it inhospitable for a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania is a microcosm of a deeper, more pervasive problem that places our party in jeopardy nationwide.

I have said that, without question, we cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates.

In that same vein, I am reminded of a briefing by a prominent Republican pollster after the 2004 election. He was asked what voter groups Republicans might be able to win over. He responded: women in general, married women with children, Hispanics, the middle class in general, and independents.

How well have we done as a party with these groups? Unfortunately, the answer is obvious from the results of the last two elections. We should be reaching out to these segments of our population — not de facto ceding them to the opposing party.

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