Just in case anyone in the Philadelphia area gives a damn about my opinion, here’s my take on the upcoming primary election:
Given my druthers, I wouldn’t vote for either Specter or Sestak – Specter, because he’s a slimy dealmaker from way back, and Sestak because he’s not trustworthy.
What I don’t hold against Specter: That he became a Democrat only a year ago. Remember, for years, the wingnuts complained about him being a RINO – so the fact that he’s playing for our team now is good. He worked hard to pass health care reform, and pushed for the public option.
Let me remind you that Joe Sestak suddenly became a Democrat in 2006, when it began to look like Curt Weldon was vulnerable. The story about him being an independent because he thought he should be non-partisan? Hmm. As someone who’s been on the inside of major campaign, I’ll call that what my gut tells me it is: a cover story that can be plausibly sold to voters. It probably had more to do with advancing his military career, and with being a chameleon.
I already told you the Sestak campaign wanted me to work for free, and that his employees (the ones who stick around, anyway) make less than minimum wage.
I’m sorry, there’s no way in hell you can convince me that working people to death for peanuts is a progressive value. (Joe’s relatives, on the other hand, are quite well paid compared to the rest of his staff.) That’s a Republican value.
Joe’s initial rationale for running was that we needed an open primary, not a candidate picked “by party bosses.” But Joe Sestak was picked by party bosses. Bryan Lentz was running for that seat, and Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC asked him to step aside to let Joe run.
That would make Joe a hypocrite, yes?
And let’s go back to that first congressional run. We (the netroots) were by far his largest contributor. He agreed with us on two major issues: He said he would vote to stop funding the war, and against FISA.
He turned right around and voted for both, without so much as a heads up to progressives. Then, at last year’s Netroots Nation, he told me he’d form a netroots congressional caucus to make sure that didn’t happen again.
He didn’t keep his word.
As I’ve pointed out before, Nate Green said Sestak’s voting record was quite similar to Specter’s – until he decided to run for the Senate as a born-again progressive. Gee, that sounds just like what Joe’s ads say about Arlen Specter!
Joe became a “progressive” again once he figured out that the party money taps were closed to him. Where else was he going to get the kind of money he needed, if not from the demonstrably naive netroots? Once again, he sold himself as a netroots darling, and once again, progressives relapsed into amnesia.
I’m going to vote for Specter, because he has my favorite quality in a politician: Once you buy him, he stays bought. When Bush campaigned for Specter against Pat Toomey, Specter kept his promise and stayed in the fold. I expect he’ll do the same thing for Obama.
Sestak, on the other hand? He’s young, he’s ambitious and he shows a disturbing tendency (even for a politician) to want to be all things to all people. That means he’ll want to seem “reasonable” (i.e. acceptable to conservatives) and we’ll have yet another Blue Dog in the Senate. Do we need one? No, we do not.
I ignored the many stories about his management style when he was running for Congress because, well, it’s Congress. Which is to say, a congressman doesn’t have that much power, there’s a lot of seats, and a lot of room to be an asshole without doing too much harm. I wanted to beat Curt Weldon and I thought Sestak could do it. (Although after what I saw of his campaign, I wondered. If the Weldon investigation hadn’t heated up when it did, I don’t think he would have won. The paranoid style doesn’t work well on a campaign.)
But he’s replicated that same style in his congressional staff, and in his campaign. Those qualities are not what I want in a U.S. senator, and if he should win, I predict he’ll be very bad at building coalitions – which is what a successful senator does.
You want to vote for Joe Sestak? Charlie Brown, meet football.