RachelWatch: Specter Switches Teams

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Today: Nate Silver, former Senator Lincoln Chafee, and another great moment of TRMS Amateur Theatre.

Unexspectered

Arlen Specter, née (R – Pennsylvania) is now (D – Pennsylvania). Since there’s only one Senator from Minnesota and there are several Conservadems, Specter doesn’t make a tidy filibuster-proof 60th vote, but politicians took the opportunity to flip out anyway.

Specter leaned his head back in and called for an uprising within the party before slamming the door, so I’m guessing someone pledged to donate a dollar to his re-election fund for every time hardliners call him an anti-American commie pinko Muslim terrorist.

And, seriously, hard-line Republicans: Duh. Did it occur to no one that the other possible outcome of screaming at your moderates and threatening to run people against them was that they might get fed up and take off?

Former Senator Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island – now Independent) is “former” Senator Lincoln Chafee because of the exact tactics that hard-right Republicans were threatening to use against Specter. As you might imagine, he had a few things to say about that.

Is it me, or does the Conservative Club for Growth sound like it belongs on the kind of late-night TV ads in which women giggle about how male customers have “a lot to gain”?

The Hardest Part is Keeping the Pigs from Eating the VapoRub

Kathleen Sebelius has been sworn in as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, just in time for a swine flu panic. Here’s your desk! Hope you’re ready to hit the ground running!

Taking her place as the Governor of Kansas is Mark Parkinson, a Democrat who switched away from the Republican Party in 2006. Ooh, looks like “former Republican” is the new black.

Specter Spectre

To put Specter’s switch in proper perspective, Rachel used the magic of The Rachel Maddow Show Amateur Theatre. What do we have to do to make that happen more often?

By freeing her inner thespian, Rachel illustrated the point that if Arlen Specter left his last party so he can vote however he wants, he might just continue to do so.

Senator Bob Casey (also D – also Pennsylvania) dropped in and admitted that his fellow Keystoner might be a tad unpredictable, but thinks he could lend a hand in getting the economy, education, and health care squared away.

Maybe.

Ms. Information

A water main broke in downtown Baltimore, turning the Inner Harbor district into just plain harbor. Mayor Sheila Dixon commented, “This is what you happen when you have a very aging infrastructure,” and Rachel managed — barely — to restrain herself from jumping up on the desk and yelling “See? SEE?!”

Venezuelan President and scandalous handshake recipient Hugo Chavez gave New Jersey an island for Earth Day. Do you think he’ll give away a rainforest if we can get Obama to hug him next time?

Rachel also ran through a few corrections because she realized she was mistaken. See how that works? Senator Burr, I am looking at you.

For other news outlets that might be considering this wacky public correcting of mistakes thing, you might note that Rachel was charmingly open and not defensive about it, saying “I am sorry for screwing stuff up sometimes.”

She also promised future treats for map dorks, who forgave her immediately and started compulsively refreshing her website.

Thunder on the Left

Even as Republicans are feeling pressure from the right, Obama is taking some heat from the left.

Rachel welcomed Representative Lynn Woolsey (D – California) to talk about Obama’s meeting with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and, wow, do I heart Lynn Woolsey after this interview. She managed to be gracious and nobody’s fool at the same time.

GOP in Exile

Back when Eric Cantor was wailing and gnashing his teeth over the awful awful stimulus bill, he singled out a new train route in Southern California for mockery because it was a stupid waste of money. Do I even have to tell you what he’s doing now?

If you guessed “continuing to stand up for what was obviously a sincere belief and not just empty political grandstanding,” you may need to watch a few more episodes.

If you guessed “certainly not demanding a new train route in his own district,” just give up and switch over to Pretty Wicked or something.

And Then There Were Two

There are now two moderate Republicans left in the Senate, both from the Moderately Great State of Maine.

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com joined Rachel to handicap the odds of other moderate Republicans following Specter’s jump across the aisle and speculate on what kind of Party member The Li’lest Democrat might be.

Cocktail Moment

Rachel showed us one of the new shots from White House photographer Pete Souza. It’s a picture of President Obama and friends wearing 3-D glasses in the White House screening room that is cool, sweet, and strange all at once.

I know they’re probably watching something that is both recent and good, but I can’t help hoping that they’re watching Jaws 3-D or Cat-Women of the Moon.

Until next time, keep an eye on your Senators and your inner thespian happy.

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