Arlen Specter

Democratic Euphoria: For Republicans, Arlen Now Just a Specter

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On Tuesday, veteran Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter announced that he would defect from the Republican Party to join the Democrats on the other side of the aisle. This drastic decision, which will give Democrats a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority (provided that Al Franken is eventually seated in Minnesota), stunned party leaders and political observers. But in retrospect, it seemed like Specter’s only logical move. What forced his hand? And just how important is his conversion for Senate policy and President Obama’s agenda? What follows is a brief guide to the political calculus behind Specter’s flip-flop, and a snapshot at what it all means for politics and policy.
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