Not worse than SMERSH after all

Last year, the National Review dubbed Arlen Specter the worst Republican Senator. However, Charles Hurt of the Washington Times reports that conservatives are much happier with Senator Specter these days. They are applauding him for enforcing strict time limits on committee hearings, ushering through many of the president’s nominees, and getting Democrats to agree to a tight schedule for the Roberts hearings. It was also Specter who caused the NARAL attack ad on Roberts (the one that tried to associate him with violence against abortion clinics) to be pulled. On the other hand, Specter wrote a curious letter to Roberts, that Senator Schumer applauded, advising the judge that he planned to ask pointed questions about the criticism of Congress by conservative Justices.
When the issue of whether Specter should be blocked from rising to Judiciary Committee Chairman arose, we agreed with Hugh Hewitt and took the position that, on balance, it would be unwise to block Specter. We’re only at about “halftime” on this, but so far the Hewitt position on this seems like a sound one, especially considering the problems Specter might be able to cause if he were on the outside. Indeed, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition who helped lead the effort to block Specter now says, “Looking back, I would have to say Senator Specter has done a fairly good job.” And Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, and a hero of the confirmation battles, describes Specter’s performance as “excellent,” and credits Specter’s independence for some of his effectiveness. The fact that he’s very smart hasn’t hurt either, so far.

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