Now a Disappointment, Specter Was Once a Hero

The media are in a festive mood, rejoicing in the defection of Arlen Specter from the GOP to the Democrats.  They will likely find themselves not so joyful as the months wear on.

First, giving credit where due, without Specter’s efforts on the Senate judiciary Committee there would be no Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In 1991 the first African-American Justice, Thurgood Marshall retired.  An immediate uproar ensued from the left, demanding that President Bush 41 appoint another African American.  Bush appointed Clarance Thomas, a staunch Conservative who held that the Supreme Court should observe the original meaning of the Constitution.  The Left went ballistic.  They wanted another black Justice, but they certainly did not want anyone like Clarance Thomas.time_cover_thomas

When Thomas’ bitter and contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings were about to adjourn, liberal Democrats suddenly produced one of his former employees, Anita Hill, who regaled the committee and the TV audience with lurid charges of sexual harassment.  Clarence Thomas came back to the hearing late in the evening after Ms. Hill’s first day of testimony, and told the committee they were engaged in “a high tech lynching.”

The next day, Senator Specter, a member of the Committee, assumed the role of trial attorney and very effectively cross examined Ms. Hill, “demolishing” (his word) her credibility.

Thus, Senator Specter was the hero of the Clarence Thomas confirmation battle,  standing for truth and justice, even though he clearly did not agree with Thomas’ views on the Constitution and judicial philosophy.  At the bottom of this post is a 1991 video of Specter discussing Ms. Hill in an impromptu press conference in corridor outside the hearing room.

On most other matters, Senator Specter has been a disappointment to those of us who believe in more liberty and less authoritarian government intervention.  He has never been a reliable Senate vote for the conservative, limited government position, or even so-called “moderate” Republican positions. His most recent disappointment was voting in favor of the Trillion Dollar, Obama “stimulus bill.”  Like all the other Senators who voted in favor, Arlen Spector did not read the bill and did not know what he was voting for.

Whenever possible, Specter uses controversial issues to enhance his political power and influence by  sitting squarely on the fence so that both sides are forced to grovel before him in an effort to secure his tie breaking vote.

The media are cheering Specter’s party-switch as a testimony to the positive power of the Obama agenda, and speculate that Specter will be rewarded by the Democrats with highly desirable committee assignments.  However, his real motivation is simple: He is up for re-election next year and he was virtually certain to lose the Republican primary in Pennsylvania.  So, he wants to run in the Democrat’s primary.  His Senate career is on life support and the Democrats  probably didn’t have to offer him anything to persuade him to switch.

Specter’s future Senate votes will be calculated to attract special interest support back home in an effort to piece together a coalition of voters for his reelection.  It’s likely that his party switch won’t make his votes any different from what they would have been had he not switched.  The only difference is that now it will be the Democrats and their supporters who suffer frustration and anger as a result.

DECEPTION ALERT: This video was apparently placed on YouTube by someone who wanted Anita Hill to destroy Clarence Thomas, which explains the added title:  “Specter’s Innuendo.”  In reality Specter was 100% correct about Ms. Hill, and she was the one guilty innuendo.

2 Comments so far

  1. thousand flowers blooming on April 29th, 2009

    Specter knows where the political future is. And it’s not with you brain-dead, just-say-no Republicans.

    This is a new era. Republican representation of the wealthy and corporate greed is over.

  2. aaa again on April 29th, 2009

    This clearly is a move of opportunism. The most insightful point in your post is that the voting pattern will probably be indistinguishable from what it would have been otherwise, given its unprincipled, voter pandering objective.