Today's surprise announcement from Senate Republican, Arlen Specter, that he is changing his party affiliation brings the number of Democrats in the U.S. Senate to 59. Specter will likely remain a conservative Democrat not necessarily aiding many of Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid's, pet projects, but it remains both a surprise and a blow to the Republican Party.
Today, Sen. Specter said that he did not leave the Republican Party - rather the party had left him. These are sentiments that have been voiced for the past few years by many moderate Republicans and most recently by Sen. John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain. Perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call for the Republican Party - but I doubt it. Obama's appeal to moderates and the Republican Party's continued embrace of the far right mimics a trend that saw the same thing happen to the Democrats in the 1980s when Specter first came to the U.S. Senate. Then, several high profile (mostly Southern) Democrats switched their party affiliation.
I am posting an update to my initial entry which is above, because of comments I've since read on the Huffington Post which validate my thoughts.
Sen. Snowe from Maine issued a public statement saying that the news of Specter's departure was devastating. You can read more by linking here.
By contrast Repubican Party Chairman Steele derided Sen. Specter's decision saying he only did this because he would not win the Republican Party Primary in his re-election bid in two years; essentially calling him a RINO - a derogatory term that means, "Republican In Name Only".
Not to be out done, and because all ego maniacs crave the spotlight, Rush Limbaugh made it a point to say good riddance, and then he suggested that Sen. John McCain and his daughter Meghan McCain (see her mentioned above in my initial posting) should also join the Democratic Party. So much for the Republican Party's leadership taking this seriously.