RIP to a GOP
A Commentary by Susan Estrich
The Republicans don't want him. The Democrats do. They would have booted him out. We'll do everything we can to support his re-election. It's a tough day when you leave your party, but being a hero certainly beats being reviled. The truth is that by the time he left the Republican Party, Arlen Specter was a man without a Party. As my friend Brian Goldsmith points out, "forty-nine states do not have a moderate Republican senator." Forty-nine down, one to go, I guess.
My first campaign was for a man who went on to be a moderate Republican senator. Ed Brooke was running for attorney general when I worked for him. It was a long time ago. I was truly a girl. My father had gone to law school with Ed Brooke, and they played hooky together sometimes and went to the track. Brooke was not the machine candidate, which is to say he was a Republican, and my father was not a machine kind of guy, which made him a Republican. Republicans in Massachusetts stood for things like integrity and reform, civic responsibility; they were socially moderate, more conservative when it came to government power or foreign policy. Not many of them were black, like Brooke, but then not many leading Democrats in the state were either.
The Republican Party that my father believed in, that supported Ed Brooke and ultimately helped elect him to the Senate, just does not exist anymore. Where it does, it is being killed off.
The way to recover after a defeat is not to begin by shooting some of those on your own ship. That strategy leaves you both more outnumbered than before and less appealing to the people who don't already agree with you on everything -- which is to say, the majority.
If conservative Republicans were trying to reinforce the message that there is no place for anyone other than conservative Republicans in the Republican Party, they couldn't have done better than they did Tuesday in responding to Specter's announcement. No big tent for this crowd.
The Republicans have lost what little leverage they had in the Senate. They have put out the sign for "true believers only." Facing a mid-term election in which unemployment is likely to be firmly in double digits in much of the country, they have neither a message nor a messenger, except on the subject of who isn't welcome. If you were scripting this on the Democratic side, you couldn't ask for more.
But it really is a sad day for anyone who has fond memories of a Grand Old Party that had room for a Rockefeller and a Scranton and a Henry Cabot Lodge, for Ed Brooke and for my dad, and even for a kid marching as a "Brooke girl" at the Topsfield Fair in my first campaign.
I got lost, but he won. That party is history.
COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
See Other Political Commentaries
See Other Commentaries by Susan Estrich
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.