The Corner

Specter versus Jeffords

In Specter’s defense, I take from the speech that he actually objected not so much to the Jeffords switch as to the resulting reorganization of the Senate. That’s why he refers in his speech to Phil Gramm and his decision to vote for Tip O’Neill as Speaker. Specter’s defection causes no such switch, it only changes his party affiliation.

But here’s another critical difference between Specter and Jeffords: Jeffords could at least claim there was a specific disagreement, and that he had been slighted by President Bush. There exists no such situation in Specter’s case. Moreover, Jeffords didn’t do it to save himself from a difficult re-election. Specter has no other reason but his re-election. The blame for Specter’s defection rests not with conservatives or with GOP leaders, but with 51 percent of Pennsylvania Republican primary voters.

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