Hats Off to Arlen!

Hats off to Larry, he broke your heart
Just like you broke mine when you said we must part
He told you lies now it’s your turn to cry cry cry
Now that Larry said goodbye to you

~Del Shannon

Arlen Specter is a detestable swine. Next to Teddy Kennedy, he, for me, is the most loathsome creature ever to lurk in the Capitol in my lifetime. Even so, at this moment, I feel so grateful to him, I could kiss him. These two seemingly contradictory sentiments require a little explanation.

First, as to his swinery. Where can one begin? Arlen first rocketed to public consciousness working for the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of JFK. He was in fact the inventor of the “€œmagic bullet”€ theory, whereby a single bullet ricocheted all through John Connolly’s insides, shot out, and killed Kennedy (leading my father to opine that it must have been a CIA plot to snuff the Governor of Texas, carried out with as much aplomb as their hits on Castro). Now, I am not a Kennedy Conspiracy fan by any means, having been inoculated by conversations with General Edwin Walker, a fellow NMMI alum who had been shot at by Oswald earlier in “€™63. Whatever one was speaking to the General about, the conversation always ended in his theories about the murder”€”which having shared an assassin with the President, he was perhaps entitled to. But it is a murky business, and it started Specter’s career.

Said career has been one of that most annoying of party insects, the pro-Abortion Republican. Throughout his time in the Senate”€”into which soon-to-be-Al Franken-haunted body he entered in 1980″€”he showed his contempt for what “€œconservatives”€ consider their core ideals. This was most notably shown in his joining the pack of hounds harrying Judge Bork during the latter’s 1987 Confirmation hearings”€”which hearings nailed the coffin in the idea of “€œOriginal Intent.”€

Down through the years, he has managed to continually live down to my expectations. Most obnoxious to me personally was his behavior during the Confirmation hearings of Mr. Chief Justice Roberts in 2005, when Specter, then head of the Judiciary Committee, demanded that Roberts promise that his religion would never affect his conduct in office; like a good Uncle Pat, Roberts piously promised, invoking the specter of JFK. A true Catholic would have turned the tables, perhaps asking Specter if he would keep his religion out of his political work. This would have been suicide, of course.

At any rate Diane Feinstein, an apostate Catholic herself, returned to the same attack”€”in vain, of course, because the future Chief Justice had the same facility for cowardice boasted by so many Catholics in public life. At any rate, one must ask”€”if Arlen’s views were so opposed to those of the Republican party, what was he doing chairing the Judiciary Committee in the first place? Before that, however, we need to know why he was in the Senate at all by that time.

The 2004 Pennsylvania primary saw Arlen challenged by Congressman Pat Toomey, a solidly pro-life, fiscal conservative. He had more money in his war-chest than either Specter or Hoeffel, the Democratic candidate. Toomey was in fact on his way to victory. But the Republican establishment, spearheaded by then-Senator Rick Santorum (who paid for this with his own handy defeat two years later) and President Bush weighed in for Specter, winning him the primary.

Once re-ensconced in his Senatorial throne, Arlen pontificated about the horrors of nominating Supreme Court Justices who might overturn Roe v. Wade. Since he was a leading candidate to replace Orrin Hatch, outgoing chairman of the Judiciary Committee, this provoked a storm of outrage on the part of the Republican base, that even President Bush was forced to heed. A grassroots movement arose to put the next ranking Republican on the Committee, John Kyl (who boasts a 0% rating from NARAL), into the chair. Of course, Kyl was such a strict constructionist that he collaborated with La Feinstein on rights of the accused matters (one wonders if she will continue this tack under our new masters). At any rate, in return for a mealy-mouthed promise that he would not oppose the administration’s judicial choices, Bush backed Specter for the chair, and in he went. So it was he was able to make his nasty demand of Roberts the following year. Of course, as with all the other Republican Chairs, he was out of a job in 2006.

Arlen Specter is indeed, a swine. But now I”€™ll explain my current enthusiasm for him.

This week, airily saying that he would not have his record “€œjudged by the Republican primary electorate of Pennsylvania,”€ Specter switched parties. Apart from the refreshing frankness with which he dismissed the voters who nurtured him, he outraged the RNC chairman, Michael Steele. This worthy whined that Arlen had not even consulted him! Oh, my!

Bravo, Arlen, I say, well done! You have paid the Republican establishment back very well for all the favors they have lavished on you, to the detriment of their supporters. The most charitable thing I can say about the party hacks and apparatchiks who fostered you is that they were useful idiots. Oh, how they deserve the treatment you have given them! After all, they have no more care for their constituents than ever you did for yours. One supposes that Mr. Bush, surely our American Kerensky, will keep a noble silence in his Crawford retreat; but do not let the storm of opprobrium from the Republican establishment that will engulf you deflect you! You are true to your self as they are to theirs! There is no doubt that you will be happy working for your new masters, who are, after all, not so different from your old. They will doubtless reward you well. When, at last, you finish your career by being appointed Whoremaster-General or some such, I hope I can be the first to congratulate you.



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