Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What To Do With Specter

There's a lot going around about what Senator Specter did and whether he should still get the chairmanship of the judicial committee. I've mainly stayed off the topic since it seemed to be everywhere else, but I've sparred somewhat with liberals in comments on their blogs and thought I should put forth my position before putting it to rest, at least for now.

Specter did a very stupid thing. I think he knows that now, though at the time I don't think he realized what he was doing. He spouted off, as most Senators do, and offended a large number of Bush supporters by asking Bush to only send centrist judges because the country was so split during the election. He made two mistakes in this.

Republicans are still fuming about the judge nominees in the last 4 years. Bush sent, not pro-life judges, but strict constructionist judges that were committed to interpret the constitution and not find new rights that weren't previously there. Democrats see that as pro-life since that is how Roe v. Wade came to be. Specter is a moderate Republican who is pro-choice. Democrats used a back-handed way denying these judges a vote (they had enough votes to approve them) with a Senate rule allowing filibustering.

His second mistake was coming out in open opposition to his party. He won as a Republican and got support for his campaign, not only from the party, but also from Bush himself when we actively campaigned for his re-election. Now I do not believe that the party can dictate how Specter can vote for these nominees, but I do believe that he has the obligation to help the party and the president give these nominees a vote.

He didn't realize the Pandora's Box he opened with these comments. Letters and phone calls flooded in calling for the party to not put him in as chairman of the judicial committee. Some assume that it's part of some sort of Christian Right conspiracy to make sure they have the power in the government. I just think it was from a group of conservative Republicans sick and tired of allowing people with a litmus test for judges run the show. He has since come out in support of the president and said that he would support getting the judicial nominees their vote.

Should Specter still get the chairmanship? I think he should. The flood of calls, letters, and e-mails have humbled Specter and reminded him that he still has to answer to the American people. Nevertheless, the Republican party needs to be inclusive. We need to accept those that share most of our ideals but may disagree with just a few policies. If all moderate, pro-choice Republicans are destined to be banned from leadership, how long are they going to stay Republicans? Does that mean that we have to cave to their issues? No, of course not. Each Senator can vote their conscience and answer to their constiuency. But they can still have a place in the party. Nobody wins elections unless they give people that don't agree with every plank in the platform a place within the party as well.


Anti-Everything has the opposing view and some of my comments in the comment section.
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