Whistling in the Dark

For how long can moderate Republicans in Washington keep whistling in the dark?

WASHINGTON – While pledging to help President Bush promote anti-abortion judges to the federal bench, Sen. Arlen Specter is struggling to maintain his proudly cultivated image as an independent thinker and sometime maverick.

…A flash of his rebellious side surfaced this week when Specter, just after pleading his case to Senate Republicans, snapped one word — “Yes” — when asked if he will be able to maintain his independence.

“I don’t think that he has had to concede any of his positions,” said fellow moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, noting that Specter has so far supported all of Bush’s nominees.

“He obviously hasn’t changed his position with respect to the Roe v. Wade decision, and the way in which he views judges. I mean, it’s not a departure from the past in terms of what he intends to do in the future as the potential chair of the Judiciary Committee.”

Yes, Senator Snowe. I’m sure you’re right that Specter will not hesitate to express his own opinion about judicial nominees. And socially liberal Republicans still have some influence over the party.