Proxy War

Scheiber, Noam
May 2004
New Republic;5/10/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 17, p14
The author discusses charges by some conservative Republicans that Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is too moderate. Last May, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter trekked to Manhattan to make his pitch before a monthly gathering of conservatives known as the "Monday Meeting." Specter, who even then was concerned about the looming primary threat from right-wing Pennsylvania Representative Pat Toomey, touted his record of supporting tax cuts and the death penalty--even his vote to put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. But several of the Monday Meeting faithful, a collection of economic conservatives known for opening their wallets to Republicans, remained skeptical. When pressed, just about the only real Bush-era betrayal conservatives can cite is Specter's vote, along with moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee from Rhode Island and then-moderate Republican James Jeffords from Vermont, to scale back the 2001 Bush tax cut by several hundred billion dollars. The further you get from the tax issue, the more hazy conservatives get. Other than the tax cut, just about the only concrete issue conservatives can point to in the W. era is a single, mangy vote Specter cast against a school-voucher demonstration project in Washington, D.C., last year. It may not be Arlen Specter conservatives have a problem with, so much as George W. Bush. In fact, at times, you get the impression that the campaign against Specter was really just a proxy for conservative disaffection with the president.


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