Arlen Specter has been serving in the Senate since 1981. His election in 1980 was reportedly his last try at state wide office having lost to John Heinz in the 1976 Senate Republican Primary and Dick Thornburgh in the 1978 gubernatorial primary. It was said at the time that Arlen was determined to win the race and that nothing was going to get in his way, he vowed to outspend everyone else in the race and he did. Since then Arlen Specter has been a most formidable force in state politics. He has always won his primaries by large margins and except for 1992 his general elections have not been all that close.
His only real political stumble was in 1996 when he ran for President. He embarrassed himself and showed some vulnerability in regards to the GOP base. I believe this was the beginning of the end for Arlen Specter. He won his next reelection by a comfortable margin but grumblings could be heard within the state Republican Party about him not being a doctrinaire Republican.
He is a mainstream northeast Republican but the direction the GOP is heading is far away from the main stream. In 2004 Specter faced his first real challenge in the primary and was dragged over the finish line by President Bush and Little Ricky Santorum.
This year his party has turned on him with such finality that if he wanted any chance at political survival he needed to heed the advice of his old train riding buddy, Joe Biden and switch parties. He has been a dependable vote in support of the Democratic agenda this year but I have to wonder if he wins in November will he return to the Republican Party if it is in his best interest. With Arlen Specter it is rarely about anything but his self interest.
And, that is my problem with Arlen Specter, the only interest he has really had is his own. There is no great legislation with his name on it. He is not responsible for any program that moved this country forward and I can think of no accomplishment that bears his name. Arlen Specter’s career has been about Arlen Specter and if something good happened for the country all the better.
Arlen Specter did not switch parties after 45+ years because he thought he could better represent his constituents he switched parties because he thought it was the only way he could get re-elected. In 1965 Arlen Specter did not switch parties because his politics changed he switched parties because he knew it was not going to be a Democratic year in Philadelphia. Arlen always puts Arlen first. In contrast Joe Sestak is giving up a congressional seat that he could have held for a very long time to run for this race. Joe Sestak is running for Pennsylvanians.
He asked the voters of Pennsylvania to vote for Nixon/Agnew, Ford/Dole, Reagan/Bush, Bush/Quayle, Dole/Kemp, Bush/Cheney and McCain/Palin. Arlen Specter told us the George Bush would be a better President than Al Gore and he told us that Sarah Palin would be a better Vice President for this country than Joe Biden. And, now Arlen Specter wants us to believe that he is a Democrat.
Today on Hardball Arlen Specter said he voted for Ed Rendell for Governor. Four years ago he was quoted in the Pittsburgh newspaper supporting Lynn Swain for Governor not Ed Rendell. Was Arlen Specter lying today on Hardball or was he lying four years ago when he was publicly supporting the Republican over his “good friend” Ed Rendell?
After over 45 years in public office I still do not know who Arlen Specter is and I am tired of it. I want my Democratic nominee to be a real Democrat and I want be confident that my Democratic nominee will be a Democrat after the election. I can’t trust Arlen Specter to do that. Can you?