Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced today that he was switching parties and will become the newest Senate Democrat. Essentially stating that the Democrats have now moved far enough right to make him more comfortable on their side of the aisle (click here to read what he really said). With the polls closed in Minnesota and only a few more months of the marathon court version of the Last Comic Standing, Al Franken is likely to give the Dems the 60 votes needed for a filibuster-proof majority. No real celebration, of course, as that count includes Joe Lieberman.
The truth behind the spin for Specter’s switch is the more than competitive primary challenge by conservative, Pat Toomey and the Republican payback for his vote with the Maine Senators Collins and Snowe to pass the Democrats’ stimulus bill.
In case you missed my February 18th blog, I’ll repeat it here:
My Favorite Republican.
Not for what his career (can’t really forgive him for that), but for what he did last week. Cancer survivor Arlen Specter (rhymes with Lector) of Pennsylvania traded his stimulus vote to the Dems for $10 billion in increased funding to the NIH (which had been starved of funding during recent years) most of which will go toward funding 15,000 additional research grants (34% increase). Specter, who has been publicly threatened by Republicans with a primary challenge for doing so, was unapologetic when he said, “I think it’s scandalous that we haven’t done more to cure cancer.”
Bravo. Way to go Arlen. This is a big deal. Doing something of tremendous importance toward curing the diseases that are truly non-partisan. As a reward, I promise to try and quit pronouncing your name “Sphincter.”