by Todd Beeton, Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 09:01:50 PM EDT
Josh makes a fair point. Arlen Specter has lied through his teeth consistently, why should now be any different. But Specter was mighty clear during his press conference today not to expect that he'll be a reliable vote for Democrats, particularly on card check.
"I note that some of the news stories since my statement was released this morning are taking a look at the 60th vote -- and I will not be an automatic 60th vote," said Specter. "And I would illustrate that by my position on employee's choice, also known as card check. I think it is a bad bill, and I'm opposed to it and would not vote to invoke cloture."
And what does he get for his defiance? A ridiculously warm welcome from Andy Stern, President of the SEIU, which has been out front in advocating for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
"It's clear to us that the right-wing conservatives in control of the leadership of the Republican party in Pennsylvania left Senator Specter long ago and we are pleased that he has decided to do the same. Just as he did with his leadership on the economic stimulus bill, Senator Specter has once again demonstrated the political courage it takes to put the interests of the working families of Pennsylvania ahead of partisanship. We have always had tremendous common ground with Senator Specter on issues important to working families including the need for reform to our nation's labor laws. We look forward to continuing our long history of working with Senator Specter to create positive change for the working families of Pennsylvania."
I actually think I threw up a little. "Political courage?" Really? This was a coward's move. "Interests of working families?" You know he said he's NOT voting for EFCA, right?
So why is Andy Stern kissing Specter's ass as though he's on his side as opposed to starting immediately to pressure him from the left to move him to his side? Does he know something we don't?
Here's more from Stern c/o Ben Smith:
"We are pleased that he's now free to speak his mind without needing to be aligned with the Republican leadership," he said in an interview. "We think we'll get a truer picture of what Arlen Specter believes in his heart."
Stern suggested that Specter's opposition to EFCA might not extend to voting for cloture, though Specter suggested otherwise in his statement.
"On many issues, including cloture, the Democrats have worked as a party to at least allow debate," Stern said. "Having a 60th member of the party should allow for a lot more debate, and not have one or two individuals hold up progress."
We hear a similar refrain from Bill Samuel, a top lobbyist for the AFL-CIO:
"In his mind, he wants fundamental labor law reform," said Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO's top lobbyist. He sees Specter's switch as a positive sign for card-check, which had seemed doomed for this Congress after Specter and Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) both said they would not support the bill.
"He is liberated, in some sense, to follow his heart. In his heart, he really wants to see the law improved for workers," Samuel told The Hill.
Sounds like labor is fairly confident that Specter can be moved to a Yes on cloture position merely by virtue of being in the Democratic caucus. Or maybe they see an acceptable compromise coming down the pike, as Harry Reid told The Hill:
"There may be another iteration of card-check coming along," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday, after pointedly stating that Specter has said he could not vote for the card-check bill in its current form.
What with Specter's penchant for telling lies of convenience with impunity and the fact that Specter supported EFCA in 2007, gaining a Yes from him on cloture for either the same bill or a watered down version, would seem on paper not to be too terribly difficult. So, fair enough, let's give Andy Stern the benefit of the doubt for now that he knows something I don't and I'll follow Josh's advice to "disbelieve all Specter's assertions equally" but I sure hope that if and when Specter holds firm on his promise to oppose EFCA -- in whatever version it comes up -- that SEIU will be first in line to support a primary challenge to Specter.