A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Arlen Specter Question: Is He or Isn’t He...a Democrat?

Next Tuesday, Pennsylvania Democrats will go to the polls to select a nominee for the Senate seat now held by politician-for-life Arlen Specter. His opponent is a retired Navy commander, Joseph Sestak, who is currently a Congressman serving in the House of Representatives. Both bring their own sets of qualifications and political baggage to the race. The whole affair is complicated by several questions about Specter’s candidacy. People have to be wondering, “Is Specter really running as a Democrat?” followed by the equally vexing inquiry, “Is Specter really a Democrat?”

Once you know Specter’s political history, it will be easy to see why voters are confused. Many years ago — about the time Moses took dictation from God on what would become the Ten Commandments — Specter was a Democrat. Then something happened...I don’t know, he got hit on the head and suffered amnesia, or he was kidnapped and brainwashed by Barry Goldwater, but the end result was that he switched his allegiance to the Republican Party. As a Republican, he voted many times with the party, but there was also many times when he would reach across the aisle and bring warring factions together to get legislation passed.

Specter remained a Republican until last year, when he had another epiphany and switched back to the Democratic Party. His reasoning seemed sound at the time. During the last few years, Specter was voting more and more often with the Democrats, a fact which wasn’t lost on his colleagues in the Republican Party. A backlash was building against him within the GOP camp. Specter saw the writing on the wall and, with his seat coming up for reelection, he escaped from the Big Tent. Either that, or he came to his senses with another crack on the skull.

This brings us to next week’s primary battle and the ugly smearing from both Specter and Sestak. Specter has a reputation for playing rough campaigns, and his struggle against Sestak is no exception. One Specter ad raised questions on why Sestak was relieved of command at one point in his military career. The ad left voters with the impression that Sestak is unfit to lead. Sestak countered with his own ad which subtly implied that — or not so subtly outright called — Specter is a liar. The incumbent took offense and demanded an apology and a retraction. Specter got neither.

Now, when it comes to politics, I do not consider myself a naïve Pollyanna. In fact, I am cynical as all hell. In this spirit, I have to question Specter’s declaration that he is not a liar. Really? How could Specter survive this long in politics if he always told the truth to everyone down through the years? I don’t believe such a thing is possible. Lies are part of the harsh, bitchy environment in politics.

Don’t get me wrong: Specter has done a lot of good in his career. He has long been a supporter of Amtrak, and he brings to this election many years of legislative experience regardless of which side of the aisle he was on at the time. Experience can be useful to get Obama’s agenda through Congress.

Sestak has much to offer as well. He got elected as an opponent of Bush’s wars and he is currently gaining in the polls on the wave of an anti-incumbency movement within the electorate. He is younger than Specter and is backed with a very respectable military resume.

Should the voters continue to count on the experience of an old hand, or prepare for the future representation of their interests and bring in new blood now? Most importantly, can the Democrats and can the voters trust Specter? This choice will not be easy either way.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember vote early and vote often! Oh wait, that would be fraud. Forget that advice!)


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