First off though, the fun part. Specter was not helpful to conservative causes in very large part. He was self-serving to the end. Look in the dictionary under the term Specter.
1. a visible incorporeal spirit, esp. one of a terrifying nature; ghost;
2. some object or source of terror or dread: the specter
of disease or famine.
Also, especially British, spectre.
Origin: 1595–1605; spectrum
Synonyms:1. shade. See ghost.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
That Specter does not understand core conservative principles is summed up in his illogical foray into the NFL's Spygate issue in 2007/2008.
...there is nothing estimable about Specter's call for a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the league's Spygate incident involving the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick, and his suggestion that Goodell should be called to testify about why the NFL destroyed the videotape evidence of cheating.Core principles - free market versus government meddling. Which side did Specter come down on? The same side he's coming down on now - government intervention where it is unwarranted.
In fact, by putting his nose into an in-house league issue, Specter has portrayed himself as even sillier than Upshaw, who Thursday responded to a question about health benefits for retired players by noting, "The disability program is for the disabled." Duh.
Addressing league matters such as Spygate, some of his colleagues ought to remind Specter, is for the league.
That Specter is self-serving is obvious. He bolted on the 28th, this poll came out on the 21st, indicating Specter was in trouble heading into a GOP primary;
And Specter said this on the 19th of March; "To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for reelection in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket."
Self-serving, not constituent-serving.
So how will the Specter defection affect Democrats and Republicans? There's already been a lot of speculation. He's the Democrats' headache now. He'll be challenged and defeated in the Democratic primary for his re-election bid. Toomey is too far to the right. This is good for the GOP, it purges a RINO. This is bad for the GOP, it weakens the party in the Senate and gives the Democrats a super-majority in the Senate. A lot of speculation, not all correct.
If the conservatism of the GOP is helped by this and they still lose a seat in 2010, the problem is bigger than Specter. The GOP needs to have principles guiding their decision making. But in politics every advantage is an advantage to be taken.
Specter is a symptom of a greater problem. Is there room for RINOs in the party? That question misses the mark. At 39 GOP Senators in the Senate the answer is no - there's no point. If there were 65 Republican Senators in the Senate the answer could be yes. But you need to get to 65 any way you can, in order to carry RINOs. If you had say 12 RINOs and the GOP held those 65 seats, you still have have more than 50 reliable votes and RINOs that you can split issue by issue and perhaps maintain a near filibuster proof majority. The Democrats see it that way on their side. The supposed conservative Democrats, aren't as conservative as you've been told, they're staying on the Democrat reservation. RINOs could be brought in line frequently enough to be useful to the GOP.
In reality, the solution is not to go to the Democrat-lite ground. The solution is to find a better way to communicate to the American public. THAT'S THE REAL SOLUTION. The Democrats and their victories have the GOP fighting a civil war and it's mere distraction. The Democrats hold the keys to the kingdom because they have a better message machine - organized, supported by the MSM and they are on campus, in union halls, at town halls. The GOP is flat-footed and on the defensive on all of those. THAT'S WHERE THE REAL BATTLE NEEDS TO BE FOUGHT. I've pointed this out before.
The problem of Specter would disappear if the GOP were better at getting their message into communities and had a better combat strategy for a partisan mainstream media. The real question then becomes, "So where's Michael Steele?"