Philadelphia's Democratic Machine Is Mad at Obama for Ditching Arlen Specter

Rep. Bob Brady is a big beefy Irishman who embodies, as much as anyone, the Democratic machine in Philadelphia. He's a mainstay in the House of what's left of the "Pennsylvania Corner" on the floor, and an ally of former mayor and still Gov. Ed Rendell.

And as of today Brady is furious at the Obama White House. When the president took Sen. Arlen Specter in from the cold (i.e., the Republican Party), Obama's team called Brady and said: we want you to accept him and work for him. Which Brady and Co. did.

But, perhaps in part to protect the machine's reputation for potency, Brady is complaining about the lack of White House support for the Specter reelection campaign.

The final indignity came today. Appearing on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell and me on Chris Matthews's Hardball, NBC's Chuck Todd reported that:

  • The White House is dismissively saying that Specter came to them about the switch (not the whole story) and
  • They actually prefer the challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, as a general election candidate.

The fact that White House political spin doctors would say this to Chuck Todd in time for him to go on the air with it at 5 p.m. Eastern, on a popular political show hosted by Philly native Matthews, with the polls open until 8 (!), enraged Brady. "I guess that's the White House's idea of loyalty," he snapped. "They're gonna hear from me."

As angry as he is, Brady is a hardball guy, too. The Dem machine here has never liked Specter, who was a Republican for 45 years. And the White House may be right that Sestak would be a stronger candidate, and the spinners are desperate to protect whatever aura Obama has.

But if you know politics, you know that loyalty matters—and that if you are going to sell a guy out, don't talk about it until after the polls close.