Couric: What in the world is going on here?
Specter: Going back from the last two years of President Reagan's administration, when the Democrats took control of the Senate and the Judiciary Committee, they delayed the judges. And they delayed them during President Bush, the elder. Then when President Clinton came in, we Republicans exacerbated it.
Couric: You, sort of, returned the favor.
Specter: Well, we returned this favor. Plus we upped the ante. Each side has gone up, up, up, up. So that now, many of my colleagues say it's a matter of trying to save face.
Couric: Republican or Democratic colleagues?
Specter: Both. They call it the nuclear option, because it'll blow up the place. If the Soviets and the U.S. could find a way to avoid a confrontation, why can't senators cross the aisle in the spirit of compromise?
Couric: Why can't you?
Specter: One reason is that the extremists on both sides want to see the battle continue. One side says filibuster forever. And the other side says drop the bomb.
Couric: If it does go through, do you think it might come back and bite the Republicans in the you-know-what down the road.
Specter: There's no doubt about that. The point of the filibuster is mainly to get even. It is masqueraded under the guise of defeating extremist judges. But that's not the case.
Couric: Who’s responsible, in your view, for all the acrimony currently on Capitol Hill?
Specter: Both sides.
Couric: There's enough blame to go around?
Couric: Do you believe the religious right has too much influence on the Republican Party at this point?
Specter: No, I don't think the religious right has too much influence on the party. I think the problem is that the moderates don't have enough influence. We shouldn't criticize the religious right for the power that they're exercising. We ought to use the power ourselves and bring the party back to the center, because that's where most of the Republican Party is. And we ought to really assert ourselves within party control.
Couric: The head of the Young Conservatives in Pennsylvania said, "Conservatives can trust Arlen Specter about as far as we can throw Ted Kennedy."
Specter: Well, I saw Ted at the gym recently, and I think he's about right.
Couric: If the nuclear option is played out, don't you think voters are going to be disgusted with politicians? Basically say, "Come on, get out of the sandbox?"
Specter: There's no doubt that the voters would be disgusted. The voters are sick and tired of the bickering between Democrats and Republicans. And while many people don't understand the intricacies of the filibuster versus the so called nuclear option, both sides would have hell to pay if the government is shut down.