Split the Ninth Circuit -- Kerry's record as "vacuous" -- Santorum will win.....Read more about it!
Tonight The American Spectator hosted one of our occasional dinners with an interesting newsmaker, most of which such occasions are off the record. But our guest tonight, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, specifically asked that the free-flowing discussion be mostly on the record. And what a discussion it was! Specter was engaging, remarkably candid, and decidedly interesting throughout. Among his comments, mostly in chronological order:
* Yes, he said, the U.S. judicial Ninth Circuit (known for its extremely liberal judges) is too big, and he intends to do something about it fairly soon. "We will split the circuit." "I believe we will split the court.... I believe it is something we will do early next year."
* He has some questions about the ongoing Valerie Plame investigation and about dragging certain unnamed persons (read: Karl Rove) before the grand jury five different times. "Down the line, when that case is finished, I hope to have some oversight on it."
* On Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Jim Haynes, top counsel at the Defense Department and apparent victim of stalling tactics or other opposition by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: "We're wrestling with Haynes.... Haynes may get another hearing. There's a lot to be said for giving him a chance to state his case."
* On the seemingly uphill re-election campaign of his fellow Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Rick Santorum, whom Specter praised highly and called "indispensable to my re-election" two years ago: "His re-election is my number one priority.... We have a very close personal relationship as well as political and professional."
"He will win unless there is an avalanche.... He's a very forceful senator."
* On the FBI search of Rep. William Jefferson's office, Specter said the FBI should have consulted with the speaker first, but as to whether it was a violation of constitutional separation of powers, he said: "No, because there was such conclusive evidence..." (that there was probable cause to do the search)
* On the Democrats' conduct during hearings for judicial nominees, Specter was close to scathing. "Schumer was absolutely rude to Alito." Filibusters "lost them Daschle and lost them a fair number of seats."
* On various Democrats: Minority Leader Reid, in various comments discussed at the dinner, "is not a deep thinker, to put it gently." Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry "didn't have any substance or any backbone." In 20 years, Kerry has "a remarkably vacuous record." Kerry at the podium is dullsville: "He's like a high school orator."
And former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala "was a colossal failure... a good bluffer, but she was a lousy administrator." Under her watch, scientists sometimes couldn't even keep deadly strains of diseases "under lock and key."
* On the need for an asbestos trust fund: We must "take asbestos out of the trial lawyers' hands" and "get corporate America out from the litigation mess."
* On his own record as a Reaganite: He campaigned with Reagan frequently in his first successful Senate race in 1980. As a prosecutor, he fought hard for the death penalty and other law-and-order measures. He has supported the flat tax. He has always been strong on national defense issues, and was a strong supporter of SDI. And he has worked very hard as chairman to get Bush's judicial nominees out of committee...and rather successfully, too; the hold-up has NOT been in committee these past 18 months.
* FINALLY, THE ONE we've all been waiting for... on the "single bullet theory"of the first bullet in the JFK assassination: "Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. It has stood the test of time" and of numerous re-examinations and documentaries.
Good stuff all around. The senator was quite impressive, in front of what might have begun as at least a semi-skeptical audience, conservative as the audience was. I think he made some conservative political friends tonight.
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