After much fan-fare (and bridge burning), Arlen Specter received a rude awakening after being feted by the media for his change of party. Roll Call reports:
“Despite promises from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) would retain his seniority after switching parties, Specter will be put at the end of the seniority line on all his committees but one under a resolution approved on the floor late Tuesday.
Under the modified organizing resolution, Specter will not keep his committee seniority on any of the five committees that he serves on and will be the junior Democrat on all but one — the chamber’s Special Committee on Aging. On that committee, he will be next to last in seniority.
As a result, Specter — who as a Republican was ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, as well as ranking member of the panel’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education — will now rank behind all the other Democrats, at least until the end of this Congress.”
You’d think a lawyer like Specter would have thought to get Reid’s promises in writing…
This shabby treatment reminds me of fate of any number of individuals whose front-running habits brought them to an unfortunate end. Likewise, those who cross the political aisle are rarely rewarded for their “bravery,” especially when their epiphany occurs while down 15% in the primary polls.
On the other side of the coin, Specter looks primed to cause at least some of the same aggravation to his new friends as he did the Republicans, offering his support to Norm Coleman in the currently disputed election in Minnesota.
The WAPO’s The Fix has a good time-line of events. As Democratic party insiders put it:
“His actions over this past week have done nothing to curry favors with either party,” said Penny Lee, a former senior adviser to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and now a Democratic consultant. “He needs to show some willingness to be a Democrat.”
Another Democratic strategist who follows Senate races closely was more blunt about the damage Specter has done to himself over the last week. “Do you think that any right-minded local Democratic elected official is going to stick his neck out for Arlen?” the source asked rhetorically. “Or any member of the Democratic Senate caucus?”
An excellent question… I wonder if it crossed Arlen’s mind?