I ran for US Senate against Arlen Specter here in PA back in 2003/2004. It was a poorly managed campaign, and I ended up dropping out before the Democratic primary.
Specter voted for the Patriot Act, which limited our civil liberties and granted the government crazy powers over the populace, including substantial dismantling of the search and seizure protections in the Bill of Rights.
He voted to go to war against Iraq, which had not attacked 9/11, but which Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other neo-cons had decided prior to 9/11 was in the strategic business interests of the country to engage in.
He treated Anita Hill harshly; he demeaned this highly educated, accomplished professional during the Clarence Thomas hearings.
There's a long list of things he did that compelled me to jump into politics without a clue of how things really worked.
But he was a moderate and a compromiser, and he advanced a lot of policies that made a difference, including the TARP and stimulus initiatives that stopped an economy in freefall, but cost him his Senate seat.
We need moderate compromisers--pragmatic people who can get things done without serious political risk. But the Right has become completely partisan, and the left is simply shellshocked and not very left. The left is the middle now, and both parties heed the call of economic power of corporate America prior to hearing the voices of regular people.
Wall Street owns the White House; the parties merely rent it.
You can probably tell I've become a bit cynical about our national politics; I have. I focus on the local as much as possible, and try not to be an ideologue and compromise when an effort will do more good than harm even though it doesn't completely adhere to my view of the world.
Arlen Specter was a moderate compromiser, and I never thought I'd say this, but we need more people like him in Washington. Show me a Republican who won't sign pledges by fear peddlers and it's someone I might even vote for (depending on the opposition).
I'm sorry to hear about his passing. He was a son of a bitch, but he was our son of a bitch, and he found ways to get things done. Some of them were actually good for the country.