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Republican Senator, Arlen Specter just announced that he has left the GOP to join the Democrats. Having listened to Specter speak out against the slow moving judiciary nomination system at Capital Hill last summer, I’m surprised by his decision, as are most news writers.

Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania abruptly switched parties Tuesday, a move intended to boost his re-election chances that also pushed Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

“I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Specter said in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to Pennsylvania politics and confirmed by his office. Several Senate officials said a formal announcement was expected at mid-afternoon.

But even before the event took place, Specter attended a Senate subcommittee hearing on the swine flu outbreak and took a seat on the Democratic side of the dais.

He made no overt mention of his decision, but said, “Sorry I can’t stay longer, but this is a complicated day for me.”

President Barack Obama called Specter almost immediately after he was informed of the switch to say the Democratic Party was “thrilled to have you,” according to a White House official.

Well, isn’t that cute. Now he’s on Obama’s good side.

Specter, 79, has been a conservative since 1965, so I find it hard to believe that he suddenly changed his political ideologies. Other columnists and writers agree that Specter’s choice was probably motivated by political ambition and not sincerity. He faces a difficult re-election, so he did what he had to in order to keep his senatorial position.

As recently as late winter, he was asked by a reporter why he had not taken Democrats up on past offers to switch parties.

“Because I am a Republican,” he said at the time.

That says it all.

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