Here’s what the venerable, if seldom venerated, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter said upon the occasion of changing his party affiliation.
“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”
Gotta hand it to ol’ Arlen – at least he’s honest about it. He minimized the high-minded, principled rhetoric that most party switchers use to ennoble their switcheroo “The party moved away from me”, “I agonized over the decision for months”, “I regret the pain my decision must cost to some of my dearest friends [here a tear appears]“, and, of course “I will never abandon the principles that have guided my political career!”
Specter understands the first principle of politics, which the colorful Leadville Republican Ken Chlouber once summarized after I’d finished telling him about all the great things I was going to do when I was elected to whatever i was running for at the time.
“That’s fine, John,” he said, “But if you don’t git elected, then you don’t git to govern.”
Alas, every pol has to leave office eventually. FDR died, Churchill got tossed out by the voters, and Reagan retired. Willie Sutton robbed banks “because that’s where the money is,” and Arlen Specter, in the same admirable spirit, has become a Democrat because that’s where the votes are.
And Ken Chlouber? A few years back, he thought about running for Governor. An ardent burro racer ( a sport wherein you and your beast run 10 or 15 miles through the mountains, seeking to beat other man/beast teams), Chlouber toured his home district with his faithful burro, dressed as if to race.
He quit the race after a few weeks, but not before a prominent Denver political consultant had offered him some unsolicited advice.
1) Lose the donkey.
2) Wear long pants.
Good advice for any aspiring pol – but if I were Specter, I’d call up Ken & borrow a burro.
Good for party identification-right, Senator?
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