The White House bails out on Arlen Specter
Apparently, a promise from the White House to back Arlen Specter’s candidacy in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial primary in exchange for Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat party came with conditions.
The marker was only good if Specter was sure to win.
Despite polls showing that the primary race between Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak is a dead heat, CBS’s Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer is reporting that the White House has decided that Specter is going to lose – and is doing everything it can to put distance between the president and Sen. Specter.
I have been told on background that the White House is preparing for a Specter loss here, and that the president doesn’t want to be associated with that.
Via The Daily Beast
The evidence supports Shieffer’s report.
Despite the fact that the president is scheduled to fly right over Pennsylvania today on his way to Youngstown, Ohio, Obama had decided not to touch down in the Keystone state to make an effort to pull Specter across the finish line. Same goes for Vice President Joe Biden who will actually be in Pennsylvania today but will not put in an appearance on behalf of his candidate – despite the fact that it was Biden who is reputed to have personally persuaded Specter to make the jump to the Democratic party.
This strikes me as yet another lame political decision on the part of the White House, not to mention a real blow to anyone who believes that the president is a ‘stand up guy’ with the courage of his convictions.
While the polls have the candidates at a draw, there remains a double-digit undecided column. These are Democrats who could well be convinced by an appearance by Obama and/or Biden. Even if it was going to be a clear, lopsided loss for Sen. Specter, would we not want Barack Obama to show a little courage of his political convictions?
It’s hardly a secret that Obama has supported the candidacy of Senator Specter. And there is absolutely no chance that the GOP will allow voters to forget the Administration’s support should Specter go down to defeat. The fact that an investigation has been launched to determine whether or not the White House broke the law by offering Sestak a top administration post in order to get him out of the race is proof positive that the White House’s inability to provide coat tails this election season will remain a topic of broad discussion.
With this in mind, there appears to be, at this point, little in the way of a downside to Obama following through on his commitments to Senator Specter. Should Specter pull it out, the White House looks like big winners. If Sestak is the winner, it will not be a secret that the White House is the loser – not only in supporting the wrong candidate but in having absolutely no influence over Sestak going forward given the manner in which the Administration has treated his candidacy to date.
While I have no horse in this race, sometimes doing the right thing is the best course of action.
Obama needs to man up and stand up for those whom he promises to support. Turning tail in the face of defeat is not an attribute we admire in presidents.