The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, October 06, 2004  

Editors View Specter as Unprincipled, Opportunistic

Apologies for my tardiness on this critical matter, but I wanted to make sure all of you were aware the Philadelphia Daily News on Monday endorsed Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (R) in the race for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania.

The Daily News editors headlined their endorsement: "Hoeffel for Senate[.] Arlen Specter: Superb Politician, Not Much of a Statesman."

The editors explained:

Joe Hoeffel is the right man for the job. He deserves your support and your vote as he attempts what some have called a political impossibility -- unseating four-term Sen. Arlen Specter.

A nice start to an intermittently well-reasoned endorsement, though I've never thought Arlen was all that.

Specter is a political institution in Pennsylvania and at one time was a moderate voice in a Republican Party that was going to the right -- hard.

I've always thought there was an element of mythology in this "Arlen Specter: Moderate" mantra. Finally, thanks in no small part to Sen. Specter's own brazenness, his craven displays of fealty to the right-wing fanatics of the Bush administration, people are starting to get it.

He is pro-choice and pro-cities . . . at least he seemed to be until this campaign.

"Seemed" being the operative word here, as it always was and is with Sen. Specter.

Challenged by a well-funded attack from the right during the primary, Specter tried to make himself as much a conservative as his opponent [Rep.] Pat Toomey. After winning that election, we expected Specter to move back to the center and regain his independent voice. It hasn't happened.

This isn't the first time Sen. Specter disappointed someone. Nor the first time he pulled a surprise out of, um, the wind.

While important senior Republican senators such as Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel have criticized Bush's war in Iraq, Specter -- just as senior as they are -- has been noticeably quiet. He has not been a hawk on Bush's growing deficit, which threatens to rob this country of a more secure future, or been a leader on such issues as extending the assault weapons ban.

Actually, one could as easily argue that Sen. Specter, one of the Senate's most accomplished pork-barrellers, has contributed more than his fair share to that same growing deficit, a fact of which I am sure he is quite proud.

While he brags of having defeated the appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, he publicly boasts of the number of Bush appointees -- many right-wing ideologues -- he has helped get on the bench. [...]

Yes, Sen. Specter helped -- helped -- to defeat the misguided nomination of Judge Bork to the highest court in the land, but subsequently he gleefully trashed Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings of Justice Speak No . . . Just Speak No. Remember Sen. Specter's emotional and righteous cry, "Perjury!"? (This is, after all, the same man who peddled a bizarre theory surrounding the death of President John F. Kennedy and who eagerly defended the murderous bail-jumper, and border-hopper, Ira Einhorn.)

Hoeffel, on the other hand, is running as a true progressive. A three-term congressman, Hoeffel knows his way around Washington and brings fresh ideas and fresh energy to the job. Joe Hoeffel gets our strong endorsement. We hope you give him your vote.

On this, at least, the Daily News editors and I agree.

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