From a reader:
Your column about how the interests of conservatives and the those of the Republican party are sometimes not congruent is on target. But the Arlen Specter controversy represents more than a conservatives versus Republicans food fight. Elevating Specter to chairman might damage the political fortunes of the Republican party if Specter wants to play the role of the heroic moderate who saved America from an extremist right-wing President and US Senate in his final years as a US Senator.
It’s hard to get inside the mind of a US Senator who voted against Bork but came to the defense of an embattled Clarence Thomas. But consider that Specter’s vote against Bork (fall of 1987) was soon after Specter was reelected in 1986, while the Thomas vote was just before Specter’s 1992 reelection effort (fall of 1991). Thus, even a Republican party hack might fear a Specter chairmanship where Specter would be given a louder megaphone to chastise the Republican party’s “turn to the far right.”