Virtually everyone agrees that Arlen Specter left the Republican Party in a completely selfish, hypocritical and unprincipled effort to save his own political hide in the face of opposition from a principled conservative who has a proven ability to win votes in Pennsylvania. The only question seems to be, why did this happen?
Some want to blame Toomey, the Club for Growth, Jim DeMint and others who have advocated a return to fundamental conservative principles by Republicans. Erick counters that well (or see below). But for those of us who really know how things work in the Senate, the answer is much more simple: Arlen Specter turned his guns on his own “friends” a few times too often…
Arlen Specter has long been a thorn in the side of Senate Republicans – and many of his antics are well known, be it voting against the confirmations of eventual colleague Jeff Sessions (for District Judge) and Robert Bork (Supreme Court), or his odd invocation of Scottish law in his vote of “not proved” during the Clinton impeachment trial. Still more people will point to his recent vote on the so-called stimulus bill and his massive spending proclivities as an Appropriator. All points are well taken.
But the damage done by Specter goes far deeper than this and has stayed largely off the radar screen of most close observers, much less most Americans. In his tenure as Chairman, and now ranking Republican member, of the Senate Judiciary Committee – Arlen Specter has employed marginal and often liberal staff, drained resources that could have been used by more productive conservative members of the Committee, refused to fight the liberal agenda of Patrick Leahy – often endorsing it, promoted legislation counter to Republican principles, and failed to defend President Bush’s nominees when the camera was not on him.
– Habeas Corpus for GITMO prisoners: Not only did Specter undermine Republican efforts, he used his staff to draft a 36-page amicus brief under his name for the Supreme Court in the Boumediene case – arguing that the Congressionally passed DTA and MCA were unconstitutional;
– FISA Reform: Specter promoted his own priorities, contra the interests of his fellow Republicans and our national security, working to cut deal with Democrats without notice to his colleagues on issues such as cutting back on the telecom immunity provisions;
– NFL Spying (non) issue: Specter wasted valuable Senate resources on the spying “scandal” of the New England Patriots in blatant pandering to a media that itself recognized the whole thing was a waste of time;
– Media Shield (S.2035): Specter sponsored legislation that was strongly opposed – on national security grounds – by the Republican-appointed FBI Director, Director of National Intelligence, Attorney General, and Secretaries of Homeland Security, Energy and Treasury;
– There were countless other measures… just check the record.
In previous Congresses, if it’s possible, his track record was FAR WORSE:
This list hardly scratches the surface. A book could be written on the damage this one man did to Republicans in their brief time in a position to govern – and maybe it will be. But know this – Arlen Specter left the Party because he is selfish and because he never stood for principle. He stood for the political animal that he is, and in the process, damaged the United States of America.