Senator Arlen Specter’s sudden switch to President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, after decades as a prominent Republican, has made him one of the most-watched politicians in Washington. Some saw Specter’s move as a pure bid for power and influence. But what does the guy stand for? In this essay, submitted early enough that the New York Review of Books still identifies him as “the Senior Republican United States Senator from Pennsylvania,” Specter weighs in against George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping and the former president’s frequent use of so-called signing statements in order to disobey more than 750 statutes. Overall, it’s an impressive defence of the U.S. system of checks and balances.