If Arlen Specter was trying to think of things he could say on Meet The Press this morning that would get progressives across the country read to urge Joe Sestak to mount a primary challenge, he seems to me to have done a good job.
GREGORY: It was reported this week that when you met with the president, you said, “I will be a loyal democrat. I support your agenda.” Let me test that on probably one of the most important areas of his agenda, and that’s health care. Would you support health care reform that puts up a government run public plan to compete with a private plan issued by a private insurance company?
SPECTER: No. And you misquote me, David. I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that. And last week, after I said I was changing parties, I voted against the budget because the budget has a way to pass health care with 51 votes, which undermines a basic Senate institution to require 60 votes to impose closure on key issues. …I did not say I am a loyal Democrat.
Ben Armbruster observes that Specter went on to join Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) is expressing opposition to a public health care plan.
Progressives are often unhappy with Nelson. But at the same time, I think it’s widely understood that Nebraska is a very conservative state so if you can have a Senator from Nebraska who backs progressive positions even once in a blue moon you’d consider yourself lucky. Pennsylvania, by contrast, last voted for a Republican president when Michael Dukakis was on the ballot and there’s every reason to believe that an orthodox Democrat would beat Pat Toomey in a general election.