|JUNE 2009 GALACTIC PROFILE
by Alex Miller
“To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for re-election in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket.”
—Arlen Specter, 18 March 2009
“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate, not prepared to have that record decided by that jury.”
—Arlen Specter, 28 April 2009
In a move that was both shocking yet not unexpected, on April 28 2009, then Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced his decision to leave the GOP and join the Democrats. This brought the President’s party within a hair’s breadth of the “magic number” of 60 required to prevent Republican filibusters, and theoretically granting him carte blanche with Congress. [Note: the last piece of the puzzle is the still disputed Minnesota Senate race, where Al Franken has won two statewide recounts, but former GOP incumbent Norm Coleman is threatening to take the case into the federal courts; see my prior article on this contest in the February 2009 Daykeeper Journal.] Specter, who had been facing a strong challenge in the Republican primary race next spring, opted for the switch as the only means of saving his career, despite the facts that since he will turn 80 before the election and has already weathered two serious bouts with cancer, retirement might seem like a good option.
The once and future Democrat has had a career straddling party lines, with political convenience the deciding factor. Beginning as a Democrat in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, Specter became a Republican in 1965 when the controversial Voting Rights Act prompted a GOP surge at the polls. Hedging his bets, the canny Specter ran as a registered Democrat on the Republican ticket for DA, garnering support from both sides and easily beating his old boss. He then promptly changed registration to Republican, but has always had an adversarial relationship with the party hierarchy.
Defeated in GOP primaries in his bids for Senator in 1976 (by John Heinz, Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s first husband) and for Governor in 1978 (by Dick Thornburgh, later US Attorney General for Bush Senior), Specter finally won a statewide primary and gained a Senate seat in 1980, and has been in the upper House ever since. His hybrid party affiliations have been apparent in his political stance, where he has been largely a fiscal conservative and social liberal, thus an old-style “moderate” Republican. His return to the Democratic fold, like his departure from it, has been pure political calculation designed to further his personal interests, and he is likely to be as much a thorn in the Democrats’ side as he was for the Republicans.
Arlen Specter’s first foray onto the national scene, however, came well before his political career. In 1963, at the recommendation of then Michigan Representative Gerald R. Ford, Specter was named assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Specter in fact co-authored the controversial “single bullet theory,” now more commonly referred to as the “magic bullet theory,” which posited that one shot was responsible for all the fatal and non-fatal wounds to both Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally, who was riding in the same car with the Kennedys that fateful Dallas day.
If this theory is to be believed, then this “magic bullet” passed through Kennedy’s neck and Connally’s chest and wrist before coming to rest in his thigh, in the process traversing a combined 15 layers of clothing, seven layers of skin, 15 inches of tissue, and a necktie knot, still having enough force to remove four inches of rib from Governor Connally and shatter his radius bone. A magic bullet, indeed, but such was Specter’s interpretation of the facts, and his debut on the national stage.
He has hardly dulled his aptitude for controversy since. He enraged fellow Republicans by his opposition to Judge Robert Bork’s nomination to the US Supreme Court in 1987, then returned the favor for Democrats by aggressively questioning Anita Hill’s damaging sexual harassment testimony during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991, charging her with “flat-out perjury.” In 1998, he chastised his own Party for their impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, and in 2006 was highly critical of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping programs. But in 2001 he authored the section of the USA PATRIOT Act which allowed that same administration to appoint interim US Attorneys without term limits or Senate confirmation, a power which led directly to the US Attorney firings scandal and the resignation of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2007(see my prior article on this scandal in the June 2007 Daykeeper Journal). In 1995 he again locked horns with Party elders when he attempted to gain the Republican presidential nomination, which ultimately went to Bob Dole. His early statement that the GOP was “captive to the demands of the intolerant right” squashed his candidacy among social conservatives, and Specter withdrew from the race before it officially began.
Politically, Specter has always been somewhat of a maverick. He straddles the Roe v. Wade fence by stating that, although personally opposed to abortion, he supports a woman’s right to choose, though he also frequently supports legislative restrictions on the extent of that freedom. He is staunchly pro-gun and pro-death penalty, voting against the Brady Bill, which regulates sales of hand guns, the assault weapons ban, and background checks for gun show purchases. He supports affirmative action and increasing the federal minimum wage, opposed CAFTA, and introduced the 2006 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which grants illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. His record on gay rights is mixed, with support for legislation prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation, but opposition to inclusion of sexual orientation in hate crimes legislation. He supports civil unions for gays, but opposes both same sex marriage and the proposed federal ban on same.
Pennsylvania’s longest-serving Senator, with an unprecedented five terms, in 2004 Specter faced an insurgent movement from within the Party, spearheaded by former House Representative Pat Toomey. Specter narrowly avoided a primary upset by eking out 51% of the vote. He handily won re-election that autumn, but the opposition continued to mount, with Toomey accusing Specter of not being a genuine conservative, and the Republican rank and file expressing increasing discontent with his positions. Specter’s vote in favor of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009 (the Obama Stimulus Bill) sealed the deal for Toomey among Keystone State conservatives, with 70% of Pennsylvania Republicans disapproving Specter’s stance and 52% disapproving his job performance overall. Specter was down 14% in head-to-head match-up polls with Toomey for the 2010 GOP primary. Seeing the writing on the wall, Specter made the shift. RNC chairman Michael Steele asserted he had “flipped the bird” to his Party.
In 2005 Specter was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma; the cancer was successfully treated with chemotherapy, but returned in 2008, and once again responded positively to the treatment. A native of Kansas, son of a poor working class Jewish family, Specter was raised in Russell, Bob Dole’s hometown. A 1951 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Specter served in the USAF during the Korean War and gained his JD from the Yale Law School in 1956. He married Joan Levy in 1953; the couple have two sons and four grandchildren.
Born 12 February 1930, Arlen Specter’s natal chart shows strong galactic activity, and a preponderance of Quasar contacts, promoting success and achievement. The Sun at 23 Aquarius conjoins the Quasar at 24 Aquarius, a sure sign of one who attracts notice, stands out in a crowd, and easily receives recognition and reward for his efforts. That Sun is also square to the Black Hole at 24 Taurus, giving Specter the chameleon-like shiftiness enabling him to adapt smoothly to changing circumstance, becoming all things to all people and blending in with his surroundings, wherever he finds himself. The Sun is exactly conjoined by asteroid Icarus at 23 Aquarius, and while Specter cannot be accused of rashness per se, his frequent variance from the Party’s positions does betray a certain reckless disregard for the opinions of his peers, and how that affects his ultimate standing within the Party. The Sun also conjoins natal Venus at 24 Aquarius, indicating a charm and civility of manner for which Specter is noted amongst his colleagues, enabling him to work effectively with those on the opposite pole of the political spectrum. He may ruffle feathers, but the cause is his positions, not his presentation.
Mercury at 27 Capricorn conjoins Pulsars at 26 and 28 Capricorn, squares Black Holes at 26 Aries and 28 Libra, and opposes a third Black Hole at 28 Cancer, forming a Galactic Grand Cross. The Pulsars attract media attention and denote a quality of newsworthiness, and Specter has always been a lightning rod for notoriety based on his stands on the issues and his entrenched inability to tow the Party line. The Black Holes indicate a deep, penetrating mind, but one also given to unlikely conclusions, culled from the alternate realities in parallel dimensions beyond the Black Hole, such as the famous single bullet theory. One pitfall of Black Hole Mercury that Specter has avoided is inconsistency, and a tendency to shift positions—he may be exasperatingly difficult to predict, based on his hybrid political philosophy, but he rarely reverses his positions once taken.
The ping-ponging party affiliations may be based in this placement, which is supported by an exact square of career-ruling Saturn at 8 Capricorn to disruptive Uranus at 8 Aries, indicating sudden and unexpected changes in career path. This square becomes a Galactic T-Square with the inclusion of the Quasar at 8 Cancer, exactly opposed Saturn, tending toward achievement, advancement and success in work matters. The ingrained split and ongoing tension between conservatism (Saturn) and progressive viewpoints (Uranus) throughout Specter’s career is also depicted by this combination.
Mars at 4 Aquarius is exactly squared a Quasar polarity at 4 degrees of Taurus and Scorpio, giving him a sound, vital constitution capable of throwing off two attacks of a particularly virulent cancer while in his late seventies. Neptune at 2 Scorpio conjoins the 4 Scorpio Quasar and squares Mars, a possible source of the effectiveness of the drugs (Neptune) used in his chemotherapy cancer treatment. The opposition from Mars to a Black Hole at 2 Leo forms a Galactic Grand Cross, and suggests a certain degree of sexual impropriety, but if so, this has never become public knowledge, which would normally be the case with the spotlighting Quasars so evident in this pattern. However, it is possible that the associated Neptune has obscured any untoward incidents sufficiently to prevent their exposure.
Jupiter at 6 Gemini exactly conjoins a volatile Maser, combining elements of controversy with politics, something surely not lacking in Specter’s case. This forms another Galactic Grand Cross with Black Holes at 6 Virgo and 5 Sagittarius, and a Quasar at 5 Pisces. The Jupiter/Black Hole contacts are yet another indicator of shifting political loyalties, and a maverick whose positions and policies are difficult to predict or pin down, while the Quasar contact again ensures a positive advancement in the political arena.
Pluto at 17 Cancer retrograde conjoins asteroid Washingtonia at 21 Cancer, identifying the venue for the expression of Specter’s personal power (Pluto) as the nation’s capitol. Black Hole Suns crave power, and have a strong desire to wield it, but often do so from behind the scenes, or in secret. Specter’s position as an unpredictable, maverick swing vote on many issues has made him a pivotal figure in Congress, which he has just cemented by his dramatic conversion to the Democratic Party, a move which arguably increases his personal power by several orders of magnitude.
When Specter announced his change of political heart at noon on 28 April 2009, in Washington DC, the skies were very revealing of what had just occurred, as well as its motivation and potential consequences. Asteroid Washingtonia was exactly rising with a Black Hole on the 3 Leo Ascendant, all exactly inconjunct Pluto at 3 Capricorn retrograde—the balance of power in the nation’s capitol was shifting, an adjustment in the face of Washington that could reverberate well beyond the next election cycle, with castrated Republicans unable to do more than bleat feebly in protest as Democrats gain total control over the shrinking minority.
Minor planet Eris at 21 Aries, named for the Greek goddess of Discord, was exactly conjunct the Midheaven, indicating strife and contention, and elevating trouble-making to an art. Both the Sun at 8 Taurus and Mercury at 28 Taurus exactly conjoined volatile, controversy-provoking Masers, with the Sun exactly trine Specter’s natal Saturn at 8 Capricorn, lending support for the move. Additionally, the Sun conjoined asteroid Asbolus at 9 Taurus, named for a centaur noted in Greek myth as a diviner who read omens in the flight of birds. Specter certainly read the omens evident in the flight of so many of his Pennsylvania constituents to the Democratic Party in the previous year’s elections, and took the opportunity to act upon his insights.
Politician-ruling Jupiter at 23 Aquarius was exactly conjunct Specter’s natal Sun/Quasar, personalizing the moment to him. Posited in the seventh house of relationships, conjunct transit Neptune on the USA Moon at 26 Aquarius and squared the 24 Taurus Black Hole, it described the mutual disillusionment (Neptune) of Specter with his party and that of his Republican constituents (Moon) with him, and caused the sudden, dramatic (both Black Hole) and highly visible (Quasar) fracture (square) in their political (Jupiter) relationship (seventh house). Jupiter was also conjoined by asteroids Damocles at 21 Aquarius, spelling the doom hanging over Specter’s head had he faced the music in the GOP primary; and Pandora at 19 Aquarius, suggesting that the Pennsylvania Senator may have unleashed forces beyond his control which lead to overall tragedy or misfortune for himself or others.
The Moon at 25 Gemini opposes the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, denoting an event of universal (Galactic Center) interest or import to the populace at large (Moon), but it is also conjoined by asteroid Kassandra, and—incredibly—asteroid Spector, a homonym for “Specter,” both at 27 Gemini—will the people trust and believe in Specter’s change of heart, or see it as a self-serving, career-saving gimmick?
Lastly, Saturn at 15 Virgo retrograde conjoins asteroid Eurydike at 17 Virgo, an apt image of Specter looking sadly back at the career (Saturn) he felt he was about to lose, and attempting to redeem it.
Will the ploy work? Philadelphia’s Democratic mayor Michael Nutter, Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, Specter’s fellow Pennsylvanian Democratic Senator Bob Casey Jr, and the nation’s Democratic President, Barack Obama, have all pledged their active support for the newly minted Democrat in his primary run next spring, and the general election to follow. Genuine Democrats who were jostling for position in the primary are dropping out of the race quicker than you can say, “party solidarity.” For now, the political hat trick appears to have come off, and Arlen Specter will end his career as he began it, as a card-carrying Democrat.
Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at firstname.lastname@example.org.