Democrats should thank the Club for Growth

It’s amazing how much damage the Club for Growth has done to the Republican Party. Susan Demas looks at the fallout.

No group has done more for the party than Club for Growth, the Washington-based anti-tax group dedicated to weeding out RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

I mean, of course, the Democratic Party, which has been the chief beneficiary of this strategy blessed by the GOP to become even more conservative. Mission accomplished.

Recently, CFG President Pat Toomey stepped down from his job to rid Pennsylvania of the scourge known as Sen. Arlen Specter. In doing so, Toomey’s bludgeoned the Republican Party far more than a few conscience votes by the moderate Republican. Because Specter just switched parties and will almost certainly coast to re-election in 2010. But not before casting critical votes on budgets, health care and cap and trade.

Now the Dems have 60 seats in the Senate, just as soon as the courts finally rule for Al Franken in Minnesota. He’s had a consistent lead and it only looks to be a matter of the GOP running out the clock. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there’s a resolution introduced by a Democrat in the Senate for “Pat Toomey Day.”

The GOP may be “pure” but it has also become far smaller — with only 21 percent identifying as Republicans in the latest Washington Post poll.

Four years ago, when over-confident Republicans thought they would be in the majority forever, the idea of purging the party of moderate Republicans had significant support on the right. How do they feel now?

When you’re in the minority, you need to expand support. Driving away Republicans like Arlen Specter just doesn’t make sense. Listening to many Republicans, however, I don’t expect this to change any time soon. The prevailing sentiment on the right at the moment is seething anger, so don’t wait for cooler heads to prevail.

All this is great news for Barack Obama and anyone who supports his agenda.

  

Will Tom Ridge run for the Senate now that Arlen Specter is a Democrat?

I’m watching “Hardball” and of course Chris and his guests are discussing the Arlen Specter situation. One talking point involved the possibility that former governor Tom Ridge might run for the Senate and take on Spector in the general election. Lindsey Graham also floated this idea.

Specter was going to have a tough time beating Pat Toomey in the Republican primary, but he would crush Toomey in a general election should Spector run as a Democrat and get the Democratic nomination.

Ridge is still popular in Pennsylvania, but he’s a moderate as well so he might have a tough time beating Toomey in the Republican primary. If he got past Toomey, he would at least have a shot against Spector.

In any event, this is pretty good news for Democrats, though Specter will not always be a reliable vote. Just as the GOP.

  

Webb pushes prison reform commission

Jim Webb and Arlen Specter “introduced bipartisan legislation to create a blue-ribbon commission charged with conducting an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the nation’s entire criminal justice system and offering concrete recommendations for reform.”

“America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace,” said Senator Webb. “With five percent of the world’s population, our country houses twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population. Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980. And four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals. We should be devoting precious law enforcement capabilities toward making our communities safer. Our neighborhoods are at risk from gang violence, including transnational gang violence.

Webb continued: “There is great appreciation from most in this country that we are doing something drastically wrong. And, I am gratified that Senator Specter has joined me as the lead Republican cosponsor of this effort. We are committed to getting this legislation passed and enacted into law this year.”

“There have been many commissions in recent years, but the problems which we are now confronting warrant a fresh look,” Senator Specter said. “This commission has the potential to really make some very significant advances in public security and protection from the violent criminals. I look forward to working with Senator Webb and my colleagues in the Senate on this important legislation.”

The high-level commission created by the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 legislation will be comprised of experts in fields including criminal justice, law enforcement, public heath, national security, prison administration, social services, prisoner reentry, and victims’ rights. It will be led by a chairperson to be appointed by the President. The Majority and Minority Leaders in the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations will appoint the remaining members of the commission.

Commissioners will be tasked with proposing tangible, wide-ranging reforms designed to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug criminalization; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration; and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders.

One of the key terms above refers to the need to “restructure our approach to drug criminalization.” This is critical if we’re ever going to reform the Drug War, and perhaps a commission on prison reform is the best way to attack the billions wasted on prohibition. We should be focusing on violent criminals, not drug offenders.

  

Related Posts