Monday, October 15, 2012

Arlen Specter - One Of A Kind

The best thing about Arlen Specter is that there was only one of him.
He was often referred to as “Snarlin’ Arlen” for his combative style, but never to his face. He would fight bitterly with fellow senators on the floor, yet when they were ensnared in career-ending scandals — as Republicans Ted Stevens, Bob Packwood and Larry Craig found out — Specter refused to abandon them, despite the political risks.

He was, above all, maddeningly unpredictable in his moderation, unafraid to anger a president or an entire party — especially in his last desperate effort to stay in the Senate when he became a Democrat in 2009 rather than face a GOP primary challenge from the right. It’s hard to believe that the same senator who defected to become Barack Obama’s 60th vote in the Senate and backed the government stimulus could have also ushered Clarence Thomas onto the Supreme Court.

“Sen. Specter will be remembered as one of the great independents,” said David Urban, Specter’s former chief of staff.

Specter had only been out of the Senate for two years when he died Sunday. But his profile as a centrist Republican makes him look like a relic in the hyperpartisan, modern version of the chamber.

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