Specter voted against a slew of conservative Reagan appointees, including Jeff Sessions to a federal appellate court (Sessions now sits with Specter on what must be a rather chilly Senate Judiciary Committee) and Brad Reynolds to be associate attorney general. But his epochal vote was against Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
Liberals waged a vicious campaign of vilification against Bork, saying he would bring back segregated lunch counters, government censorship and "rogue police" engaging in midnight raids. No one expects more of Teddy Kennedy. But when a senator with an "R" after his name opposed Bork, it was over.
Specter pretended to weigh the attacks on Bork thoughtfully and after careful consideration announced he would vote against Bork. By exploiting the fact that he calls himself a "Republican" ? despite voting with John Kerry more often than he voted with Ronald Reagan ? Specter gave cover to the left's portrayal of decent, God-fearing Americans who love their country as being about one step away from David Duke. As the first Republican to oppose Bork publicly, Specter ensured that other craven "moderates" would soon follow suit.
The Bork fiasco utterly cauterized the Republicans. After that, Republican administrations were terrified of nominating anyone provably to the right of Susan Sarandon. Instead of legal giants like Judge Robert Bork, we ended up with Anthony Kennedy and David Hackett Souter on the Supreme Court.
Since Bork, Republican presidents have put three justices on the court. Two of the three gaze upon a document that says absolutely nothing about abortion or sodomy and discern a "constitutional" right to both. (But try as they might, they still haven't been able to discern a woman's constitutional right to defend herself from rapists by carrying a pistol in her purse.) Because of the court's miraculous discovery of a right to sodomy last term, gay marriage is now on the agenda in America.
The nation waits with bated breath to see if, this term, the court will strike "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Liberals are so desperate for this to happen that some of them are actually praying for it. The only reason to hope the court might let us keep saying "under God" is that it's an election year. Like Arlen Specter, the Supreme Court often gets religion whenever normal Americans are about to vote.
Luckily for the country, Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court a year before Specter was up for re-election. After supporting Thomas, Specter turned around and started bellyaching that Thomas was a "disappointment" ? presumably for Thomas' failure to ferret out any more "new" constitutional rights such as gay marriage or taxpayer-subsidized penis augmentation. Don't hope for any more election-year conversions if Specter is re-elected: The old coot will be 80 years old by the end of the term.
Some Republicans seem to imagine that Specter has a better chance of winning the general election by appealing to Democrats ? and thereby helping Bush ? than Pat Toomey does. This is absurd. Just because Republicans hate Specter doesn't mean Democrats like him. It's no wonder Pennsylvania often votes Democratic. If Arlen Specter represented the Republican Party, I'd be a Democrat, too.