Monday, October 15, 2012

Maverick Moderate Arlen Specter Dies


RIP, Senator Arlen Specter

Via Politico
“Arlen Specter was always a fighter,” President Obama said in a statement Sunday. “From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve.”

. . . The Pennsylvania senator announced he would switch parties April 28, 2009, saying he felt the Republican Party had swung too far to the right. “I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Specter said in a statement.

“I am unwilling to have my 29-year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania,” he said. “I have decided to run for reelection in 2010 in the Democratic primary.”

In 2010, Specter’s political career came to its stunning end with a loss in the Democratic primary to Rep. Joe Sestak. Sestak attacked Specter for his Republican past and for switching parties “to save one job: His, not yours,” as Sestak’s campaign starkly put it in one ad. Sestak went on to lose to Republican Pat Toomey, who took over Specter’s post Jan. 3, 2011.

Former Sen. Arlen Specter, one of the most influential senators of the last half century, died on Sunday from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 82.

The five-term senator, a moderate Republican-turned-Democrat, was a key member of the Judiciary Committee and a major player in the confirmation proceedings of 14 Supreme Court nominees. But he was consistently a thorn for leaders of both political parties and their presidents.

. . . A lot of things made him the voodoo doll of GOP conservatives: his outspoken support for abortion rights, his advocacy of civil rights legislation and, of course, the cardinal sin, his vote against the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork in 1987.

Specter was hardly the darling of the left, either. Democrats were infuriated when Specter, faced with a likely Republican primary challenge in 1991, led the hostile questioning of Anita Hill at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

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