Newsweek Gives Sideways Arrow to Joe Biden for Swine Flu Comment

May 5th, 2009 5:29 PM

The nation's gaffer-in-chief Joe Biden really stepped in it last week with his remarks about how Americans should avoid flying and taking the subway to avert coming down with the swine flu. It's safe to say the conventional wisdom around the country and inside the Beltway is that Biden really blundered.

But not to Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom, which in the May 11-18 edition gave Obama's veep a mere sideways arrow, hinting that role in pushing Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) to become a Democrat mitigates his political foot-in-mouth disease:

arrow neutral Biden: Stupidly tells “Today” we shouldn’t travel. Stick to bringing GOPs across the aisle.

Of course, that presumes Specter as newly-minted Democrat is a master stroke, which is not necessarily the case. Indeed the evidence seems to point to the contrary.

The longtime liberal Republican has made clear he's not an automatic 60th vote for cloture for the Democratic majority. What's more reports the Huffington Post's Rachel Weiner, in an odd twist it seems that Specter may believe his friend and colleague Sen. Norm Coleman (R) is essentially being cheated out of reelection to the Senate in Minnesota by erroneous court rulings governing the recount:

In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, the newly minted Democrat said he thinks Republican Norm Coleman should win his Senate recount court battle against Al Franken in Minnesota.

"There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner," Specter said, when asked how he felt about the lack of Jewish Republicans in the Senate.

Q: With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?

A: I sure do. There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.

Besides Specter being another stray cat that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may find next to impossible to herd, the Democratic establishment is now committed to financially aiding his 2010 reelection campaign, something that doesn't sit well with other Democrats who have been eyeing the Senate seat and may still run in the primary. And while many feminists have forgiven Specter for skewering Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, there's bound to be some who aren't as quick to forgive and forget Specter or the Democrats for embracing him.

The bottom line: picking up Specter may have been a cute "screw you" move for Democrats to pull on the minority GOP, but in terms of tactical or strategic benefit, there seems to be no real gain for the Democrats.