Why I'll Miss Arlen Specter, Warts and All
He regularly thumbed his nose at party-line automatons
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2010 12:30 PM CDT
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., pauses as he gives his concession speech.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – It's so easy to dislike Arlen Specter, writes Dana Milbank. Let us count the ways: "Ornery, vain, disloyal, and a brazen opportunist." And let's not forget the infamous quote that brings all those characteristics into play: "My change in party will enable me to be reelected." And yet, "I will miss him," Milbank writes at the Washington Post. "Whatever his faults, he fought the forces of party unity and ideological purity that are pulling the country apart."

Consider that over his Senate career, Specter helped secure a "10-fold increase in spending for the National Institutes of Health," motivated in part by his own health troubles. In fact, "his biggest triumph was the $10 billion he won for NIH last year in exchange for his vote for the stimulus bill—the very vote that would lead to his banishment from the Republican Party." He put medical research over party loyalty. "Only in our very sick political system does that make somebody a heretic."