The Corner

Snarlin’ Arlen

In 2003, I wrote a cover story on Specter. It included this graf:

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have much better reasons for disliking him: They regard Specter as one of the prickliest pols in Congress — a humorless man who is cold to colleagues and cruel to staff. Late one night several years ago, Senate majority leader Trent Lott needed Specter to sign off on an appropriations bill. Specter agreed to do it, for a price: Lott would have to attend two fundraisers in Pennsylvania. Lott made the deal, but this sort of legislative hostage-taking doesn’t win fans. “There are two kinds of senators: Republicans who don’t like Specter and Democrats who don’t like Specter,” says a former leadership aide. In a Washingtonian magazine survey, Hill staffers rated him the Senate’s meanest member. This has given rise to one of Specter’s nicknames: Snarlin’ Arlen.

I’ve always liked that background quote–when my source uttered it, I knew right away that it would appear in the article. Yesterday we were witnesses to its full truth: Democrats don’t like Specter, either.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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