That's the word from CNN. Specter, of course, has had to bend further and further right to protect his right flank from primary challenger Pat Toomey. Apparently he realized that was a dead end. The GOP base, which makes up primary voters, is getting more and more right-wing. So he's decided to switch parties and become a Democrat, hoping to preserve his political future. He stresses in his statement that:
My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.
It's possible, indeed likely, that this is merely a semantic shift. Specter will retain his own politics, vote the way he was before and have a D in front of his name instead of an R. He's hoping he'll have a clear path to re-election as a Democrat in a blue state.
But, it's also hard not to think that Democrats are in a much better position than they were 24 hours ago. It also occurs to me that the increasingly right-wing, out of step GOP base really is on its way to further destroying what's left of its party.