Specter One of a "Dwindling Band of Republican Moderates"

Haven't they dwindled away yet? The Times first used the phrase "dwindling band of Republican moderates" back in 1996.

On Thursday, Katharine Seelye profiled liberal Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, who faces a primary challenge from conservative Rep. Pat Toomey in May 2010. Both the headline and Seelye's text portrayed the contest as "conservatives" vs. Specter, one of the "dwindling band of moderates" left in Congress: "For Specter, Challenger From Right Of His Party - Senator Seen Losing His Moderate Base."

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's longtime Republican senator, visited the police department in Darby, Pa., on Monday to hand out $221,000 in federal stimulus money and received high praise - from the local Democratic congressman.

Checks like this are being handed out nationwide "because of Arlen Specter's vote, a courageous vote," said the Democrat, Representative Robert A. Brady, referring to Mr. Specter's support forPresident Obama's stimulus package. "It was a vote out of the heart, and for that you should be commended."

Such praise for Mr. Specter from his fellow Republicans has been less forthcoming. Conservatives have opposed him for years, and moderates, tens of thousands of them, have deserted the party and registered as Democrats. That has left a smallerRepublican Partydominated by conservatives and has made Mr. Specter vulnerable to a challenge from the right.

It's amazing the party hasn't just withered away, isn't it?

And this was unintentionally amusing:

Mr. Specter is holding fast to his identity as part of a dwindling band of Republican moderates. As one of only three Republican members of Congress who supported the stimulus - and the only one up next year for re-election - he has become a test case for their survival.

That "dwindling band of Republican moderates" certainly has been "dwindling" for a long time - former reporter Adam Clymer used that exact same phrase back in December 1996. After over 12 years, it's a surprise there are any moderates left at all.

While the Times can readily locate conservatives in the GOP, it just can't seem to find liberals in the Democratic party.