The Campaign Spot

Arlen Specter Avoids an Uncharacteristically Classy Exit

This morning’s edition is the last Morning Jolt of 2010 – a pleasant surprise for me from the editors, and hopefully not too unpleasant a surprise for you. Regular morning updates will resume January 3, 2011. But in the unlikely chance you find yourself going through withdrawal as the Christmas holiday approaches… seek psychological help immediately. If that fails, you can check the midday Three Martini Lunch podcasts, as Greg Corombus and I are slated to continue those each weekday through the New Year. And, of course, this spot will update as news warrants…

Don’t Let the Door Hit You, Arlen.

Just think, America: 2011 will bring us a world free from sitting Sen. Arlen Specter, Whatever-Pa.

He went out with… well, not a bang. I suppose we could say he raged, raged against the dying of the Senate career and perks of incumbency.

Specter did an effective job of immolating any minute shreds of sympathy Tim Carney had for him: “This morning I was starting to feel a bit sad about Arlen Specter’s departure from the Senate. While I rooted heartily for his defeat in 2004 and 2010, I consider him to be stubbornly independent of special interests, which is a rare and laudable thing in Washington. But then I watched his farewell address — or as he called it, his “closing argument.” The former Republican and Democratic Senator showed why he was called “Snarlin’ Arlen”: His closing argument was an angry, petty, mean, self-serving screed that betrayed a total lack of self-awareness. … He attacked the “activist” Supreme Court for infringing on Congressional prerogative — this is the man who killed Robert Bork’s nomination out of fear Bork would overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s hard to think of a decision in the last 50 years that was more “activist” and trampled more on legislative prerogative, but Specter has called Roe ”inviolate.” Speaking of Bork, this was where Specter showed his petty meanness. He gratuitously brought up Bork in his speech, saying, “Justice Bork — excuse me … Judge Bork.” Stay classy, Arlen. The climax of the speech was his thinly-veiled complaint that Pat Toomey primaried him, and that Jim DeMint was ready to endorse Toomey. This shows too much “ideological purity,” shows the power of “right-wing extremists,” and amounts to ‘cannibalism.’”

At Hot Air, Allahpundit exclaims, “How un-self-aware did it get? Dude‘Mr. Specter, who changed parties after he determined that his support for President Obama’s economic stimulus made him unelectable in a Republican primary, said that under the current political environment, a senator could be severely penalized for one vote cast out of thousands, making compromise impossible.

“Repeatedly, senior Republican senators have recently abandoned long-held positions out of fear of losing their seats over a single vote or because of party discipline,” Mr. Specter said.’ Remember, this is a guy who became a Republican in the first place only because he thought he couldn’t win the Democratic primary for Philadelphia D.A., then flatly admitted to switching parties last year because he thought it would improve his chances of being reelected. And switching parties also meant switching principles, or whatever the word “principle” might mean as applied to Specter: Remember how his views on health care “evolved” just in time to justify voting for ObamaCare? You can watch the whole thing at C-SPAN but here’s the bit of him whining about cannibalism. Somewhere a single tear rolls down Charlie Crist’s cheek.” 

I’ll give Paul Mirengoff of Powerline the last jab at the end of Specter’s bizarre, lengthy career: “Arlen Specter delivered his farewell speech to the Senate today. He pretentiously called it his “final argument” but at least managed, I hope, to avoid citation to Scottish law.”

Senator Pat Toomey can’t get here soon enough.


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