Someone who takes revenge violates a Biblical prohibition, as it is written: “Do not take revenge.” (Leviticus ) Although there is no corporal punishment assessed, it shows extremely bad judgment. Instead it is appropriate for a person to be less exacting in his standards in worldly matters, because to discerning people all such matters are meaningless and incidental and not worthy of revenge. What constitutes revenge? He asked his friend if he could borrow a shovel and the friend refused. The next day the friend asks him to lend a shovel, and he says, “I will not lend you just as you did not lend me.” This is revenge. [Maimonides, Laws of Proper Thinking 7:8.]
Everything has a time and there is a moment for every object under the sun. There is a moment to give birth and a moment to die… there is a moment to break down walls and a moment to build… There is a moment to throw stones… there is a moment to embrace and a moment to distance (oneself) from embrace. [King Solomon, writing as Ecclesiastes, 3:1-5.]
ARLEN SPECTER CALLED ME a cannibal yesterday, but I will obey the Biblical injunction and eschew revenge. On the other hand, I must respond to the moment, and Arlen has defined for us the appropriate stance for this moment: it is indignation.
The outgoing Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania gave an oratorical summation, a peroration if you will, in which he waxed more wroth than eloquent. He spoke liltingly of the collegiality of yore and wiltingly of the disloyalty of the nonce. Why, there is political cannibalism today [read: Tea Party], where a sitting Senator [read: Jim DeMint] can work to checkmate a seatmate. In the old days the members of “this body” were above such monkeyshines; it was, in Specter’s infelicitous phrase, “conduct beyond contemplation.”
Disloyalty, eh? Betrayal, eh? Duplicity, eh? That a brother should be so perfidious?! You gotta be kiddin’ me.
LOOK WHO’S TALKING. This man is the crown prince of disloyalty, the grand vizier of betrayal, the court jester of duplicity and the town crier of perfidy. This is a man who less than two years ago turned his back on a party which had supported him for nearly three decades, which had rewarded him with plum chairmanships. He traded his virtue for verdure he thought greener. Not only did he become a Democrat, he became the most docile lapdog of the President. When there were a few holdout Senators on Obamacare, their names were Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln. The specter of Arlen was nowise visible.
So how many betrayals is that already? One, the Republican Party, as stated. Two, his fellow Republican Senators, the ones who let him take leadership roles. A leader abandoning his troops, a warrior deserting his comrades: apparently none of this is beyond contemplation. Three, President Bush, who backed him in his prior primary against a more conservative candidate. Four, the people of Pennsylvania who elected him under false pretenses.
Nor was he more loyal to the Constitution. He was always a Big Government guy, one of three Republicans to vote for Obama’s $700 billion stimulus. He was not loyal to the most vulnerable among us, voting the pro-choice line. He was against abortion, he explained, but it was a matter for the family and “not for the government.” The one place government does not belong is protecting human life, by this logic.
This exposes yet another disloyalty, to the Jewish People and its moral teachings. That makes him no worse than most of the Jews in public office, who are the most reliable votes against all things Biblical or moral or traditional. But it goes to credibility, Your Honor. It leads us to ask a simple question: to what principle or person or institution or nation is Arlen Specter loyal? The answer is none at all. Jews used to be accused of dual loyalty, but in the case of Arlen Specter there is no loyalty but to himself.
This is who is lecturing us on fraternity, a preening peacock of a man, a guy who makes you want to look up all those words to describe puffery. Words like gasconade and fanfaronade and magniloquent and grandiloquent, words from the 19th Century tailored to the blowhards of the time. Do you remember what a poseur Specter was during the Clinton impeachment, saying he wanted to vote neither Guilty nor Not Guilty because he preferred the Scottish construction Not Proven?
He got his comeuppance in this election, but it was too little too late. We let this buffoon sit in the United States Senate until age eighty. Specter is right about one thing: shame on us!