Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Speaking of Senators...

In 1966, Arlen Specter joined the Republican Party. This afternoon, the five-term U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania announced that he's now a Democrat.

Naturally, GOP hard-liners are going ballistic. They never much liked Specter anyway, discounting him as a RINO -- Republican-in-name-only -- and today is bitter vindication.

These days, it absolutely sucks to be a Republican.

Even when I disagree with Arlen Specter on issues, I like the way he plays the game of politics. More than that, I respect him as a man -- his personal courage in the face of multiple battles with cancer deserves admiration that crosses artificial partisan boundaries.

Specter had been facing yet another battle, at least until today -- a challenge from within the Republican Party for his Senate seat. That threat that made his jump to the Democratic Party a smart political play, and I have no problem whatsoever with his motive.

Truth is, I wish that Specter would've declared himself independent of both parties and been done with it, but I'll be satisfied with the independence of his actions if not his affiliation. I sense that he'll confound his new party's leadership as often as he did the GOP's.

When "RINO!" is hurled at the Specters, Snowes, Collinses, McCains and Hatches of the political world, it's intended as an insult, meant to disparage anything resembling independent thought. And while bucking one's party isn't as commendable as true independence, I consider RINO (or, if there is such a thing, DINO) a compliment of the highest order.

I mean, a political party is nothing but a name. It's merely a label. Anyone who reflects that fact should be admired, not admonished.

In the end, it takes a real chucklehead to be categorically faithful to a political party -- just look at the simple-minded hounds attacking Specter's defection. Lightning may strike me for saying so, but I find their howling entertaining as hell.