Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Thursday, April 22, 2004
Message to Pennsylvanians, and those who know Pennsylvanians

...especially those who care about the politics of judicial confirmations, as you should.

Please get out there next Tuesday, April 27, and vote for Rep. Pat Toomey for Senator, against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter.

Toomey's website gives you most of the reasons. I'll just add a few:

If reelected, Specter will become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Yes, I know Grassley is senior to him, but Grassley is in line to chair the Finance Committee, which he much prefers to Judiciary.) As Specter is fervently committed to Roe v. Wade, and liberal on other issues as well, a Specter-chaired Judiciary Committee would be indistinguishable from a Democrat-majority Judiciary Committee when it comes to confirming judges.

Yes, Specter did a great job defending Clarence Thomas and getting him confirmed in 1991, and he undoubtedly earned a book of free passes for that. But -- most of those passes were used up in advance, since Specter was instrumental in torpedoing the Bork nomination in 1987. Because of Thomas, conservatives supported Specter's reelection in 1992, and gave him only weak opposition in 1998. Now it's different: the book of free passes is used up, and Toomey can win.

Refuting specific arguments:

Toomey can't win the primary: Au contraire, the race is now a statistical dead heat. In 1998, State Rep. Steve Freind challenged Specter from the right. Freind was a problematic candidate -- and even so, he got 30% of the vote. Toomey, a very strong candidate, is taking that anti-Specter base and building on it.

A conservative Republican can't win state-wide in Pennsylvania: Can you say S-a-n-t-o-r-u-m?

Santorum supports Specter: Look, you have to understand how Washington back-scratching works. Same-state same-party Senators always support each other. Santorum even supported Specter's no-hope bid for the Presidency in '00. I don't like it either, but it's part of the political ecology of the Senate. Don't imagine, however, that Santorum will be in sackcloth and ashes if Toomey beats Specter on Tuesday.

Bush supports Specter: Again, the party establishment always supports its incumbents. It's that, plus an investment (a risky one, imo) in Specter's future loyalty. The very fact that the Specter campaign had to beg for a presidential visit shows how cleary they understand that Toomey can win.

In conclusion: Pat Toomey can beat Specter in the primary, and (as Santorum shows) he can win state-wide in November. And, with Specter out, and Grassley chairing Finance, the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be reliable conservative Sen. Jon Kyl! And then, let the games begin!