Only time will tell how much value the addition of this lucky number 60 will provide the Senate majority.
At TNR Jason Zengerle raises some really good questions.
I asked that exact question last month, when there were the first rumblings that Specter might switch parties. I still think it's a good question. I understand why Specter would switch parties: as Eric Kleefeld ably explains, he didn't have a choice if he wanted to win reelection in 2010: he wasn't going to win the GOP primary and running as an independent raises all sorts of structural impediments. But what's in it for Democrats? The very same political shifts in the Pennyslvania electorate that drove Specter from the GOP would have seemingly given someone like Joe Sestak a big leg up in a race against Pat Toomey. And Sestak would seem to be a much more reliable Democratic vote than Specter. After all, in announcing his party switch, Specter emphasized that he still opposed EFCA, so Democrats didn't get him to compromise there. Maybe, now that he's a Democrat, Specter will back off his threat to filibuster Dawn Johnsen's nomination. That's certainly the least he can do. But it'll be interesting to watch what happens in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Is it possible Sestak would go ahead and challenge Specter?
Jon Henke over at the Next Right adds some other points regarding today’s events that should not be missed.
Once everybody gets the Republican reaction story out of their system, we'll turn to a much, much more interesting chapter in this story: How will Democrats react to Democratic Senate candidate Arlen Specter?
Early reaction (Daily Kos, Glenn Greenwald, The New Republic, MyDD, Open Left) suggests Senator Arlen Specter has somehow managed to join a political Party that dislikes him even more than Republicans did.
So, by promising to give Specter the institutional support of the Democratic Party, it looks like the Democratic establishment has engineered a switch that advances their political control at the expense of the ideological agenda and ideals of the progressive movement.
This will be a crucial test of who holds the power on the Left. Who controls the Democratic Party: the Party establishment or the progressive movement?