One veteran Washington observer who remembers Specter's first defection (from Democrat to Republican) is syndicated columnist David Broder.
From Broder's column in Investor's Business Daily:
It's been more than four decades since Arlen Specter, the senator from Pennsylvania, earned the nickname "Specter the Defector." This week, he confirmed that it is indeed an accurate description of his political character.Broder's assessment of Specter is priceless: "Specter's history shouts the lesson that he will stick with you only as long as it serves his own interests — and not a day longer."
I was a kid reporter for the New York Times back in 1965, when Specter's flip-flopping first attracted attention, and the report I filed recounts the circumstances that led to his unflattering nickname.
Specter, then a Democrat, had been an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, and he harbored an ambition to run against his lackluster boss, a man named James Crumlish. The Democratic bosses of Philadelphia were not encouraging Specter because, as one of them told me, "We don't want another young Tom Dewey," the reform-minded New York prosecutor who launched himself into the governorship and two presidential nominations by sending a string of prominent officeholders of both parties off to jail.
So Specter, with the encouragement of such prominent Pennsylvania Republicans as Sen. Hugh Scott and Gov. William Scranton, said he would run against Crumlish on the GOP ticket. To hedge his bets, and to help himself gain Democratic votes, he waited until he won that race to change his own party registration.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.