My initial reaction on learning that Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had crossed the aisle to become a Democrat was something like "That EFFING TRAITOR!!#$" in large part as Specter would give the Democratic caucus cloture proof sixty votes in the Senate which is in reality the last real obstacle to a liberal President and liberal Congress running rampant.
For many conservatives Specter has been a RINO (Republican In Name Only) for some years now in particular on his judicially activist views specifically calling Roe v. Wade and its subsequent survival a super-precedent. There were also those rancid "Kerry/Specter" lawn signs from 2004. On the other hand he did shepherd though the not particularly easy appointment of Samuel Alito the high bench.
It was amusing and a pleasant surprise this week when it turned out that the Senate Democratic leadership led by the sanctimonious snake Harry Reid that they essentially screwed Specter. Specter, who apparently was promised that he would maintain his Senate seniority if he switched parties, found himself treated as the most junior Democrat on Senate committees. This is a deep blow to Specter who attempted to sound Reaganesque on the reasons for his switch, i.e., "I didn't leave the Republican Party, THEY left me" but admitted that the catalyst of his switch was the fact that conservative Pat Toomey would run against him in Republican primary in 2010 and that the likelihood of him prevailing in that contest was bleak.
Essentially he switched parties, a month after stating unequivocally that he would not, to save his exalted seat in the Senate.
There may a silver lining somewhere in all of this.
2010 is a long way away but assuming that Pat Toomey is the Republican candidate, Specter is more likely than not to be a Democratic candidate. A Specter left out in the political cold is likely a very disgruntled Specter (remember his nickname IS Snarlin' Arlen) who won't get many Republican votes at all and might see the most liberal Democrats too disgusted to vote for him. A well run campaign by Toomey and a dulling of the gloss of Obamessiah may be enough to put this seat back in Republican hands. Even if Specter won, he would be a moderate to conservative Democrat rather than perhaps a liberal Democrat so this switch, while not a good thing, may not be such a bad thing after all.
Reid and the Democrats despite Specter's orneriness (still supporting Norm Coleman in Minnesota) should have welcomed Arlen with open arms and just bit their tongue and make sure Specter was in the tent p*ssing out.