Pulling a Specter

PULLING A SPECTER…. This guy is hard to figure out sometimes.

It may be time to coin the phrase “pulling a Specter,” because Sen. Arlen Specter (PA), the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, just did it again. After making a huge fuss questioning the independence of Eric Holder, Specter just caved and said he’ll support the attorney general nominee.

“I can say with some confidence that there won’t be a successful filibuster,” Specter told reporters at a press conference gathered to share his thoughts on Holder in advance of tomorrow’s Judiciary panel vote on the nominee.

Specter has been fighting, resisting, and complaining about Holder’s nomination for more than seven full weeks. Specter questioned Holder’s “character” and his “courage.” He compared Holder to Alberto Gonzales, for crying out loud. Specter told a committee room full of people that he questioned Holder’s “fitness for the job.”

Specter felt it necessary to talk endlessly about the Marc Rich pardon, the Elian Gonzalez controversy, Gore’s fundraising efforts in the 1996 presidential campaign, the 1993 federal siege in Waco, the espionage investigation involving Wen Ho Lee, and the 1999 clemency for members of a Puerto Rican militant nationalist group. More recently, Specter sought some kind of guarantee that Holder wouldn’t prosecute Bush administration officials who committed acts of torture.

But as of today, Holder’s fine and will enjoy Specter’s support when his nomination comes to the floor.

It’s tempting to wonder why Specter bothered with delays, attacks, and weeks of complaining, if he was going to turn around and vote for Holder anyway. The answer, I suspect, is that Specter enjoyed the attention, found his own grandstanding entertaining, and saw utility in pushing Obama’s team around for a while. Now that he’s had his say, I suppose Specter is prepared to act like a senator again.