So Joe Sestak was a magic bullet that Arlen Specter couldn’t dodge. Over at Powerline, and picking up from Commentary, Paul Mirengoff talks about how Specter voted reliably in favor of Israel’s security and understood the importance of standing by allies. He also notes that Sestak flirted with the Council on American Islamic Relations and seems to curry animosity toward the traditional U.S.-Israel relationship.
While Jonathan Tobin notes that Specter “tried to curry favor with the left by backing a policy of cutting and running in Afghanistan,” Specter’s weakness on the foreign-policy front went deeper. Specter embraced engagement with rogue regimes uncritically. After meeting Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in early 1990, he worked to prevent an arms embargo on the Iraqi dictator who would subsequently invade Kuwait and drag us into war. He traveled to Syria perhaps 20 times on the taxpayers’ dime and, aside from photo-ops with Hafez and Bashar Assad, has absolutely nothing to show for it except for weakened U.S. national security. During the early years of the Bush administration, Specter was at the forefront of efforts to engage the Islamic Republic of Iran, a time which we now know the Iranian leadership used engagement as a cover to pursue a nuclear-weapons program. (For Specter on Iraq and Syria, see this; on Iran, see here).
Whether Specter was a reliable vote on Israel-related issues or not, his overall foreign-policy vision was naive and dangerous. He put a desire for photo-ops and headlines above any serious national-security strategy, whether Democrats or Republicans were in the White House. And while many senators will dabble in foreign policy once or twice, usually they think better when they get burned. Specter had a track record, but he cared little for metrics by which to test his hypotheses.
Pennsylvania lost a Senator, and dictators around the world lost a useful idiot.