NO MORE EXCUSES ON JOHNSEN…. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long, but 10 months ago, President Obama nominated Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel. Her nomination has been delayed (and delayed some more) thanks to obstructionist tactics — conservatives have strongly disapproved of her opposition to Bush-era torture memos, her pro-choice positions, and her support of civil liberties.

While it seemed as if Johnsen’s nomination was dead, last week, the White House announced that the president intends to re-nominate her when the Senate returns from its recess.

But the Senate hasn’t changed. Can Johnsen’s nomination overcome the obstacles this time? It can if Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) is on board.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D), Specter’s primary opponent, went after the senator on this today, noting that Specter, when he was the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped delay Johnsen’s nomination. As Sestak characterized it, a key Obama administration position remains vacant because Specter sided with GOP obstructionism.

It wasn’t long before Specter had some good news to announce.

Senator Arlen Specter (D-Penn) announced on Tuesday that he will support the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the post of Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, clearing the way for her confirmation.

“After voting ‘pass’ (which means no position) in the Judiciary Committee, I had a second extensive meeting with Ms. Johnsen and have been prepared to support her nomination when it reaches the Senate floor,” Specter said in a statement provided to the Huffington Post

The change of heart by the Pennsylvania Democrat represents a huge boost for Johnsen’s supporters.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), not surprisingly, has still said he may filibuster Johnsen’s nomination (despite opposing filibusters of similar Bush nominees). But with Sen. Richard Lugar (R), from Johnsen’s home state of Indiana, on board, and Specter’s support, she appears to have the 60 votes she needs.

No more excuses.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.