April 28, 2009
Posted: 1813 GMT
You could practically hear the hard right turn the collective media took a few minutes after noon eastern today. In the midst of wall-to-wall swine flu coverage, breaking news: a veteran Republican Senator in the U.S., Arlen Specter, was switching parties.
A Republican since the 60's, Specter says he will join the Democratic party. This means the Senate has 59 Democrats, one short of the number needed to defeat Republican attempts to block legislation.
If the comedian Al Franken wins a legal case in Minnesota and becomes the Democratic senator for his state, the Democrats will have the upper house sealed, with 60 seats.
This is interesting because of the math, but also because it says something about what the Republican party has become. It is now formed almost entirely of conservatives. Moderate Republican Specter said today: "I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
Talk about an identity crisis for Republicans in the United States. After a dearing defeat last November, the question is how to appeal to the middle ground. A debate the party will need to have if it wants to appeal to a wider pool of voters. It's time to face the music.
Can you believe that with all this talk of DC politics, I almost forgot the swine flu. We will be leading our show with the outbreak again today.
Ted Rowlands is on his way to a farm where health officials believe "patient zero" was diagnosed. A child on a pig farm in Veracruz. Karl Penhaul was scheduled to appear on the program but is instead headed to the wake of a young child, killed by the swine flu virus. This is when stories stop becoming numbers and dots on a map.
We'll also be taking you live to the Centers for Disease Control for more on what the American agency is saying about the spread of the swine flu virus. Ben Wedeman will talk to us about cases in Israel.
Also today, our Nic Robertson is in Pakistan. The Pakistani military is finally taking on the Taliban forces that have edged closer to the country's capital. it's a move sure to please the United States. Will it be enough? And what does this mean for the deal the government struck with the Taliban in the Swat valley? Is it dead for good?
That and all the day's top stories at the top of the hour.
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