Let’s not pretend that there was anything principled about Arlen Specter’s decision to defect:
In an announcement that shocked colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Specter said he had become increasingly uncomfortable as a moderate in a party dominated by conservatives and would join the Democrats. He bluntly admitted that his decision was tied to his belief that he could not win reelection as a Republican next year.
[. . .]
Specter’s political standing in Pennsylvania has become increasingly tenuous in recent years. His record as a moderate, combined with the shrinking GOP base in the Keystone State, would make a general election difficult, and Toomey, who came within two percentage points of defeating Specter in 2004, was leading in public polls by double digits heading into next April’s GOP primary.
Specter received his own final poll Friday, an assessment he called “bleak.” He ultimately chose to cast his lot with Democrats, he said in a news conference yesterday, because “I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.”
Of course, in the past, Specter had a problem with people like, well, himself. I certainly hope that Specter gets the Democratic primary challenger Jonathan Chait–and I–believe he deserves. Speaking of Chait:
When a politician switches parties, it’s customary for the party he’s abandoned to denounce him as an unprincipled hack, and the party he’s joined to praise him as a brave convert who’s genuinely seen the light. But I think it’s pretty clear that Specter is an unprincipled hack. If his best odds of keeping his Senate seat lay in joining the Communist party, he’d probably do that.
In the event that you think Chait is being too tough, recall that recently, Specter said that he would not switch parties because “[t]he United States very desperately needs a two-party system.” I guess the interests of the country take second place to the electoral concerns of Arlen Specter, eh?