Michael Totten

Don’t Get Cocky

Immoderate Republicans are having fits about Arlen Specter, a liberal Republican from Pennsylvania, who is slated to head the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary. Specter, you see, isn’t too jazzed about packing the Supreme Court with righties.
Hugh Hewitt issues a wise warning.

The opposition to Specter seems headquartered at The Corner. Many friends post at The Corner, so I paused, considered their arguments, and thought it through. On reflection, it seems to me a very bad idea to try and topple Senator Specter from what in the ordinary course of events would be his Chairmanship. I hope my colleagues on the center-right that embrace pro-life politics will reconsider.

I understand that Senator Specter voted against Robert Bork, and that Senator Specter is not a friend of the pro-life movement. But genuine progress in the fight to return American public opinion to an affirmation of life before birth cannot be made through strong-armed tactics and almost certainly will not be lasting if it is accomplished through a putsch.

Unlike Hugh and most of the folks at The Corner, I am not “pro-life.” Sorry. I’d like to be, just as I’d like to be anti-war. But I’m not. So, of course I’m biased in Arlen Specter’s favor. I’m counting on the likes of him to put the brakes on the Republican Party and get them to govern from the center. I may have voted for Bush this year, but sure as the stars come out at night I don’t support any right-wing social agenda. There’s no way my split-ticket vote can be construed as lending support to a mandate for either side. That’s the whole point of voting split-ticket. It is only half-hearted partial support. It is explicitly anti-mandate.
The swing-voting center put the Republican Party in power this year. 2006 isn’t very far away. The right had better look out. For we who giveth can also taketh away.
UPDATE: See also Andrew Sullivan.

Here’s a fascinating piece of data. The percentage of people who said in 2004 that their vote was determined by the issue of “moral values” was 22 percent. In 1992, if you add the issues of abortion and family values together, that percentage was 27 percent. In 1996, it was 49 percent. In 2000, it was 49 percent. So the domestic moral focus halved in 2004. Obviously, the war took precedence, especially if you combine the categories of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism more generally. Again: the Republicans should be wary of over-playing their hand. If they believe the entire country is the religious right, the backlash could begin very soon.

Yeah. Like, real soon. Watch it. Last week’s election wasn’t the last one.