It is one of the grand and glorious traditions of American politics that traitorous behavior is cloaked in principle and indignation. Ronald Reagan, famously, didn't leave the Democratic Party in the 1950s. The Democratic Party left him. Ever since, the Reagan formulation has been the ironclad rule for party switchers. And it would have been perfect for Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican whose prickly moderation — and proud pork barreling — had become decidedly aberrant among Republicans. After five cholesterol-laden terms in office, Specter was facing a prohibitive primary challenge from a right-wing ideologue named Pat Toomey. He was also in an excellent position to make a deal: his vote would secure passage for both Barack Obama's stimulus package and his health care plan. And so, convinced of his indispensability, Specter dispensed with the Reagan camouflage. He told a starker version of the truth: "My change in parties," he said, "will enable me to be re-elected."
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