The unstoppable Keyes juggernaut!

Pennsylvania's moderate incumbent Senator, Republican Arlen Specter, is facing a new threat, not from his own lackluster opponent, but from Barack Obama!

Much as I prefer Barack Obama to Alan Keyes, I wish Obama would stay the hell out of the Pennsylvania senatorial campaign:

Barack Obama is running to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, but yesterday he worked Philadelphia like a hometown candidate, helping to raise $100,000 and headlining a rally that drew more than 500 people.

Sure, the senior citizens, office workers and college students were happy to catch a glimpse of U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel, Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate nominee, at the voter registration rally in JFK Plaza. He joined Obama on the stage to warm applause after calling his own news conference earlier in the day to criticize the latest ad from his Republican opponent.

But for many the reason they came was to see Obama, a state senator who rose to national prominence after giving the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. People mobbed him before the rally, and they circled the stage afterward, thrusting Hoeffel signs his way for an autograph. Five Philadelphia police officers and at least one private security officer were called in to manage the crowd.

"I am quite confident he could be the first African American president of this country," said Jessica M. Marttila, 23, a student who came to shake Obama's hand.

Obama downplayed the attention when he could, saying he was just fortunate to be so far ahead in his Illinois race against Republican Alan Keyes that he could travel the country to campaign for Democrats such as Hoeffel.

While moderate incumbents are usually considered "safe," Arlen Specter has been getting it from the right, from the left, from an alliance between the right and the left, and now, from a senatorial candidate in another state.

The losing candidacy of Alan Keyes is bad enough for the Republican Party. (Keyes is 40 points behind in the race against Obama, and is plagued by a social issue he could have left alone, yet went out of his way to raise). But when his opponent -- in his first race for Senate -- doesn't even need to bother campaigning, and instead runs around campaigning in other states, that adds insult to injury.

It wasn't idle talk when I spoke of a loser mentality plaguing the Republican base. It is one thing for Keyes to damage the Republican Party in Illinois. But why should he be allowed to damage Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania?

Surely there ought to be a loss limiting rule -- prohibiting losers from causing damage outside their own areas. I don't mean to be facetious (and I know that what goes around comes around) but seeing a tantrum by moral conservatives in Illinois affecting the candidacy of a moderate in Pennsylvania just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I thought all politics was supposed to be local!

Of course, since when losers have losers minded dragging others down to defeat?

(On the other hand, not wanting to be a downer can lead to self-censorship. Which is why I have hundreds of unpublished screeds......)

posted by Eric on 09.28.04 at 08:50 AM










Comments

Specter is a good guy.

I bet his life is Hell right now, though. The new Republican Party nomenklatura is making sure that he doesn't side too strongly with Snowe and Chafee and the other "Yankee" Republicans. The left is just loving how he squirms.

The problem is that Specter is a good Senator and that he has been an effective representative for the people of his state.

His choices now are either to 1) swing right and embrace values and policies that are essentially foreign to Pennsyvlanians or 2) try to keep a hold on the center. The Republican power masters are making sure he doesn't do 1) and the Democrats are trying their hardest to make sure he doesn't do 2).

Too bad. I like the guy.

bink   ·  September 28, 2004 9:11 AM

You're right, Eric--still and all, does Hoeffel really look viable? The party operatives on both sides are after Specter, but do the voters see any reason to go for Hoeffel? I'm obviously not there to see and hear the ads, but to judge by his web presence and what I hear from relatives, he hasn't made much of an impression outside his (admittedly important) Congressional constituency.

Sean Kinsell   ·  September 28, 2004 10:06 AM

No. I don't think that there is a compelling reason for most Pennsylvanians who regularly vote to vote for Hoeffel over Specter this time.

From my peripheral attention to this issue, it seems unlikely that Hoeffel will be able to distinguish himself from Specter on any basis except for partisan ones. Here is one way that I see advantage Hoeffel: Democratic groups are attempting to register huge numbers of African-American voters in urban areas of swing states. Pennsylvania and Ohio are two areas that I have seen mentioned in this context. If the Dems are successful, they might be able to give Hoeffel a substantial ride on party coattails.

But for voters who are already registered and have been voting for Specter for years, why switch? That doesn't seem likely.

bink   ·  September 28, 2004 10:44 AM

I agree with you. I oppose all these attacks on Senator Arlen Specter, both from the Democrats and from Republicans like Keyes. I hope Senator Specter wins. He is the kind of man we need.

But Keyes -- "lackluster"? I must say that he is anything but lackluster. He is extremely interesting. He is my enemy, I totally oppose him, I oppose his _moral premise_. I am selfish and proud of it. I admire and defend homosexuality and homosexuals, the sanctity of homosexual marriage. But I must still say that Keyes, like Bork, Santorum, etc., is at least _interesting_ as an adversary. They do at least deal with the most fundamental issues, even though they are on the wrong side.

Thanks everybody. (And I do like Specter.)

A couple of points. Steven, I didn't mean to say Keyes was lackluster; only that Hoeffel was! I'll grant Keyes this: he searches for the truth. I do too, only my search brings me to a very different place than Keyes's.

Searching for truth is no way to win, though. Accomplishing the latter requires tempering the truth through the severest tests of cynical realism, as well as taking a broad general view of things....

Eric Scheie   ·  September 29, 2004 11:34 AM

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