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May 6

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 5:41 AM 

Photo: Harry and Arlen in happier days.

Wonder what John Nance Garner, best remembered for his comment that the vice presidency wasn't worth a bucket of warm spit (or something), would have said about Arlen Specter's new status as Democratic Newbie on all of his former committees?

Seems that Dem leader Harry Reid promised 79-year-old Specter the world--namely, that the 79-year-old senator would retain his 29 years of seniority if he simply changed his mascot from elephant to donkey.But my, my, things look different in the cold light of the Democratic dawn -- even after that "standing ovation" Harry Reid told The Hill Specter received at his first Democratic policy luncheon yesterday. Or was it simply "warm" even "strong" applause, but no standing O, as three (3) senators anonymously insisted to the paper. 

First seniority, then a standing ovation--someone is living in fantasy land, but at least now he has Specter to play with. Here's the Hill story:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who helped convince Specter to leave the GOP last month to become a Democrat, told reporters Tuesday that Specter received a standing ovation at the private weekly lunch meeting in the Mansfield Room.

But three Democratic senators who spoke to The Hill contradicted Reid and said that Specter received “warm” and even “strong applause,” but certainly no standing ovation. The lawmakers requested anonymity because lunches are supposed to stay private.

And because Harry might still be able to take away some of their marbles....

A spokesman for Reid did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Still thinking.

Specter’s highly publicized switch rankled some in the party over an agreement Reid made with Specter that would allow the Pennsylvania senator to retain the seniority he earned through his five terms as a Republican.
Reid has touted Specter’s defection as a coup for his party, but members like Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) are not happy that Specter would be allowed to leap ahead of senior Democrats on various committees.

What is the old expression--Senate hath no fury like a Mikulski scorned?

Specter claims that Reid has promised to recognize him in the 112th Congress with the same seniority as a Democrat elected in 1980.

And a standing ovation, too.

In general, Reid seems more enthusiastic about the new Democratic senator from Pennsylvania than several of his colleagues.

A new friend for Harry!

Democratic leaders tried to ensure that Specter would feel well taken care of. He sat at the leadership table, which is usually reserved for Reid, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), said a Democratic senator in attendance.

Party hats, too?

Specter gave colleagues a short speech about why he joined the Democratic Party, describing his relationship with the GOP as one of “irreconcilable differences,” reported another Democratic senator....

A third Democratic senator said that colleagues seemed to act friendly toward Specter during the lunch, creating the impression that the longtime Pennsylvania Republican may have found a cozy new home....

Alas, not. The seats at the luncheon leadership table had barely cooled before Senate Democrats voted unanimously to seat Democrat Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees he serves on. And guess who read that resolution out loud--Harry Reid! The Washington Post fills in with the details on this Big, Beautiful Doublecross:

Tonight's committee resolution, quickly read on the Senate floor by Reid himself, contradicts Specter's assertion last Tuesday when he publicly announced his move from the Republican side of the aisle. He told reporters that he retained his seniority both in the overall chamber and in the committees on which he serves. Specter said that becoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee was a personal goal of his, one that would be within reach if he were granted his seniority on the panel and placed as the third-most senior Democrat there.

So near and yet so far....hah.

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