It’s tempting to celebrate the announcement that Arlen Specter is switching parties, since (once the ridiculousness in Minnesota is over), it will give the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority.
Here’s the thing: Specter is likely to be another Lieberman, sticking in the Democrat’s craw, holding his vote for ransom, etc. Not a sure 60th vote, no matter how you look at it.
He was facing a primary loss to a right-wing nutjob in the Pennsylvania Republican primary. A right-winger performs well with the increasingly hard-right Republican base, making for an easy primary victory… but can’t compete in a largely moderate state in a general election. The Democratic candidate will win Pennsylvania — and now, Specter’s move prevents the chance of getting a true Dem elected to that seat (unless the Dems mount a primary challenge, which will be tougher to do).
So, thanks to Arlen’s desire to maintain his grip on the reins of power, the chance at a solid, dependable Democratic Senator taking that seat is now much, much slimmer than it was just a few hours ago.