Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Since leaving the Republican Party to run for re-election to the Senate in Pennsylvania as a Democrat, my, how Arlen has changed:
"Between 2003 and 2009, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter obtained nearly $10 million in earmarks for abstinence education. Then he became a Democrat. Since switching parties last spring, Specter hasn’t sought a dime in earmarks for abstinence education — a dramatic reversal that critics describe as a case study in the cynical politics of pork-barrel spending. As an abortion-rights Republican facing primary challenges from the right, Specter could use the abstinence education earmarks to show social conservatives in his party that he was sensitive to their concerns. But as a relatively conservative Democrat, he doesn’t have to worry about a challenge from the right — and has to be careful not to offend liberals, who generally prefer a broader approach to sex education. “It really is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of the raw politics behind earmarks,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of the government watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Once he becomes a pro-choice Democrat, [the social conservative bloc] becomes a constituency that’s not as important to get earmarks” for."

But here's another thought. Is this all merely politics? Or, perhaps, was Senator Specter never really much of a moderate-Republican-with-sympathy-for-some-conservative-positions at all? Maybe he was always pretty liberal, and is finally showing his true colors. In any case, even more reason for all conservatives to help the fine conservative Pat Toomey finally sweep Specter out of office this year for good.

Make no mistake, when it comes to health care reform et al, the Obama folks, and especially the president, haven't changed their tune one iota. They remain convinced that Congress passes the Democrats' health care bill, public approval will automatically follow, as the president suggested again in his pep talk to Hill Democrats yesterday:
"The president acknowledged the difficulties, but implored Democrats to remember why they first ran for office. He urged lawmakers to ignore the political chatter on cable television and in the blogosphere and “get out of the echo chamber” in Washington. If Congress delivers results, he added, “I’m confident that politics in 2010 will take care of themselves.”

Hmmm. Well, he's certainly convinced of that. But right now the terrain for Democrats continues to look bumpy. Take Illinois, for example, which in recent years has been a state in which Republicans can't seem to win, in statewide races at least. But now, the Illinois senate is set--Republican Mark Kirk will square off against Democrat Alex Giannoulias. A poll is out--and it has the Republican Kirk starting out with a 6 point lead. This is a race for Barack Obama's old senate seat, remember.

The Dallas Mavericks broke their 3-game losing streak, beating Golden State,
110-101. And that's all good. But what worries Mavs' fans is that Dallas built an 18-point lead in the first half, then struggled the rest of the game to hold on to it. They also let the Warriors shoot 12 for 17 in the 3rd quarter. The Mavs have to find ways to improve if they want to be a force in this year's playoffs...