The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney today reviews Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter's farewell speech to the U.S. Senate, and characterizes it as "20 minutes of self-serving gripes, empty name-calling, and petty meanness." He reports that the desperate party-switcher longed for the good old days:
Recalling his old gang of moderate Republicans, Specter painted a composite picture of the sort of senator he admires, such as the late Ted Stevens, the infamous porker given to bouts of arrogance, who lost re-election in a cloud of scandal and after being convicted of corruption (Stevens was cleared thanks to prosecutorial misconduct). Specter also fondly recalled Sen. Bob Packwood, who resigned under threat of expulsion after facing sexual harassment charges.
Half the moderates Specter invoked in his reminiscence have since cashed out to K Street, including John Warner, Slade Gorton, Warren Rudman, and Jack Danforth.
Carney also provided an illustration of Specter's rank hypocrisy:
Throughout the speech, Specter claimed to hew to some principle, while repeatedly showing disdain for those same principles. Specter assailed the Citizens United ruling as "judicial activism" that would allow corrupting corporate influence in our elections. Moments later, though, he held up the write-in bid of Sen. Lisa Murkowski as the "the way to counter right-wing extremists" like Toomey and Utah Sen.-elect Mike Lee. Murkowski's re-election was fueled by $12 million in outside spending by a group funded entirely from the corporate coffers of lobbyist-run companies that she has enriched with federal dollars through earmarks and special contracting rules.
So we know Specter doesn't really mind corporate influence in politics. We also know he doesn't mind judges making law, because he has called Roe v. Wade "inviolate" and sank Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination in fear that Bork would overturn Roe. There's no principle here. Instead, Specter knows what he likes -- abortion on demand and pro-choice porkers like Murkowski -- and he knows what he doesn't like: the increased public criticism of politicians Citizens United would allow.
So say goodbye to the petulant Pennsylvania senator. There may be no greater example than he of the entitlement-to-power mentality that Tea Partiers agitate against.
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