ABC News' Stu Schutzman reports:
Arlen Specter is experiencing what playwright Tennessee Williams so aptly called a “Period Of Adjustment”. With the ink on his divorce from the Republican Party hardly dry, his second marriage, to the Democrats, is already off to a rocky start.
“Pity Arlen Specter,” writes Dan Balz in today’s Washington Post, “A week ago he was standing in the White House, a newly minted Democrat, the toast of the town…” Now the Republicans want no part of him and the Democrats don’t know what to make of him.
When he made the switch, Specter gave no illusion that it was anything but a calculated political move in the hopes of saving his Senate career. His former Republican compatriots immediately denounced him as a hypocrite. His first two votes as a Democrat were against the interests of his newly adopted party. He had managed to anger virtually everyone. He had lost all his seniority, had no committee assignment(until today) and no money to pay most of his staff.
Specter recently committed a major gaffe by throwing his support behind Republican Norm Coleman in his disputed Minnesota senate race against likely winner, Democrat Al Franken. He later backed off saying he forgot what team he was on.
“I am sure this is an awkward time for Senator Specter,” kindly remarked Senator Tom Harkin, “It’s a transition.”
“He needs a little time to focus on his new surroundings,” said an even kinder Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Arlen Specter has been on the political stage, mostly as a republican, for more than 4 decades. But his politics have always been unpredictable. Whether you call him a moderate Republican or an Independent minded Republican, he has always managed to ruffle some feathers within the caucus. His new fellow Democrats may not care as much about his ideology as his former colleagues did; what the democrats do care about is his vote. And the message they’re sending Specter is that he had better belly up to the bar and get with their program if he wants their support in his tough upcoming election. After all, that’s why he jumped across the aisle in the first place.