Let’s not forget that Specter also managed to get Clarence Thomas confirmed earlier, over one of the worst liberal smear jobs ever. I won’t say that Specter did it for the right reasons—but he did it, and few others could have done it as well.
The same was true of Roberts and Alito. Few other politicians at that time had the guts or the political savvy to have brought that off. The Democrats could have filibustered either one of them, if they had chosen to. But Specter did a terrific job managing the hearings in a way that made the Democrats fearful of filibustering. Don’t tell me that George Bush could have done that. He had a long record in office of never attacking or arguing with his enemies, no matter what.
Later on, Specter went back to his usual ways, and then switched parties and, thankfully, backed himself into a corner and lost his career.
But he was already famous for confirming Clarence Thomas. And he kept his promise of confirming Alito and Roberts, before he defected. Bush chose those three great, pro-life Justices, but, ironically, he never would have gotten them confirmed if not for Arlen Specter.
As for Toomey, he probably would have lost that year. But he came back later at a better time, and won.
I admit Specter did some good along the way - but I do know many of us who appreciated his defense of Thomas had already turned on him by the time RS was supporting him against Toomey.
I am also not convinced that keeping Specter was necessary for Alito and Roberts. We’ll never know now of course.