Today Arlen Specter said goodbye to the Senate, and in doing so he showed himself to be a bitter, defeated old man. I suppose such is the fate of political opportunists. Ironically he devoted part of his speech to bashing the “right wing” voters who seek to back candidates whose Conservatism was pure. Specter’s career was all about the exact opposite of ideological purity. Specter is the guy who changed political parties twice, in order to save his political career.
Its very interesting to watch the nine-year-old CSPAN Booknotes interview of Arlen Specter (see video above). The Pennsylvania Senator discusses his switch from Democrat to Republican in 1965. When Specter ran for Philadelphia district attorney in 1965, he proudly proclaimed himself a “Kennedy Democrat,” and said he was running as a Republican to take on what he saw as the corruption of the machine. To be honest, it was his only chance to keep the job.
Last year Specter changed parties because of what he called a movement of his Republican party to the right. In truth he made the move to have a shot at keeping his job. Very little has changed about Specter in the intervening 45 years. He makes no qualms about having an ideology. The guy just wants a job.
Today Specter railed against the Tea Party,“Eating or defeating your own is a form of sophisticated cannibalism,” Specter said about the Tea Party movement’s backing of conservative GOP candidates in this year’s elections.
He made comments about the election losses of what he called GOP centrists and moderates, such friend Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah and Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware. Both were denied the GOP nominations in their states this year by Tea Party candidates and pointed to GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who successfully mounted a write-in campaign as an example of how candidates can “counter right-wing extremists.”
What Specter doesn’t understand today and what he hadn’t understood during the last few years of his Senate career, is that he didn’t lose his support in the GOP because of “right-wing extremists” Neither did Robert Bennett, Mike Castle or Lisa Murkowski. They lost because more people wanted someone else. You see that’s the part of the equation arrogant politicians such as Specter and his friends named above keep forgetting. They don’t work for a party, nor a political movement, they work for the people. And its those people who decide who wins and who loses. Specter lost because he stopped listening to the people, and they threw him out on his arse.
A video of Specter’s bitter speech is below: