Harrisburg, Pa. • Arlen Specter, who spent much of his 30-year career in the U.S. Senate warning of the dangers of political intolerance, is remembered as one of Congress' best-known moderates and was a member of both major parties during his career. Now, two years after he was voted out of office, his death coincides with a finding by political scientists that Congress is more polarized than at any point since Reconstruction.
Specter, who died Sunday, even began a short-lived run for president in 1995 on a platform that warned his fellow Republicans of the "intolerant right." He lost his job after crossing political party lines to make the toughest vote he had ever cast in his career when, in 2009, he became one of three Republicans to vote for President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill.
Republican fury drove Specter to the Democratic Party, where he lost the 2010 primary.