April 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bathroom

The way back, actually. So tonight, like every Tuesday, the center city chapter of Drinking Liberally met at Triumph Brewery on 2nd and Chestnut. Around 8 I went to the bathroom, and on the way back up, walking past the first booth in the place, I thought to myself, "Self, that guy really looks like Pat Toomey!"

Now, poli-sci geek that I am, this would have been exciting any day, but today was even more special. After -all, Pat Toomey is the right-wing firebrand who was set to whoop Arlen Specter by 20-30 points in the GOP primary, which led Arlen to switch parties just this afternoon. On this day more than any other, Toomey was topical. And he had decided to have dinner in the same restaurant as the weekly Drinking Liberally. Life is full of irony.

When I went back upstairs I walked up to Duncan and Noz and said "I'm about 50% sure that Pat Toomey is downstairs right now." As Noz relays at his blog, he then googled what Toomey looked like, and went to scout it out, reporting back "That guy really looks like Pat Toomey."

Naturally, I found this quite satisfying, because I don't think that anybody trusted my identification of him. Then a number of people raced downstairs to confirm, and Brendan actually got in a longish discussion with him. Here's the evidence:

Sen. Specter Joins the Democratic Party

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania since 1980 (longer than any of us have been alive), took the final step in the growing alienation from his party. Obviously this is big news, and there is plenty of coverage and reaction over the internet. I personally have some things I like about this, and some things I dislike. Breaking them down as such looks somehting like this.

The Good

  • The Democrats, with Al Franken's eventual seating, have a 60 member caucus, nominally enough to break fillibusters (caveats apply).
  • This both highlights and reinforces the idea that the Republican party has grown radical and isolated, controlled by its crazy base.
  • This makes the Democratic party look reasonable and attractive to self-identified "moderates", if not actual ones.
  • It was likely that T.J. Rooney and Rendell were going to pick a challanger to Specter that would be in the mold of Casey (one of my least favorite senators), and this buys PA Democrats time to grow their field of challangers. Joes Sestak and Schwartz are only serving their 2nd and 3rd terms in the house, and in 4-6 years will be more credible candidates for statewide office. And who knows where Seth Williams will be in 2016...
  • Senator Specter probably won't be a senator for 25 more years, whereas a Casey-esque DINO would.
  • Specter came out during his press conference and said that PA Republicans are too crazy to be allowed to judge his record.

The Bad