The Rittenhouse Review

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2004  

Strange Begets Strange

The Philadelphia Daily News yesterday published a lengthy letter from Christopher Nicholas, campaign manager for the fringe group that goes by the name of Citizens for Arlen Specter.

You've heard of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), haven't you? As Steve Goldstein put it in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer ("Independence is Specter's Style"):

Most Americans, if they know him at all, think of Specter as the "single-bullet" advocate in the Warren Commission's Kennedy assassination investigation; the saboteur of Judge Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination; the relentless interrogator of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings; or the man who invoked Scottish law in President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

You may have forgotten the Scottish law reference. Goldstein explains: "Under Scottish law there are three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty, and not proven," Specter said in a public statement. "I intend to vote 'not proven.'"

It's interesting, I think, that Specter, who is a lawyer, and pretty strange generally, speaks most strangely when the subject at hand is the law.

With that in mind, it would appear the campaign manager's letter was written by the senator himself. First, Nicholas compains the Daily News endorsed Rep. Joe Hoeffel over Sen. Specter without interviewing the candidates: "Sen. Specter questioned that procedure, which denies basic due process, saying that even criminals are entitled to a hearing before judgment is rendered."

Due process? What does due process have to do with it? Why not ask the editors whether their operations are governed by Scottish law. Besides, as the editors point out, in a note under Nicholas's signature, the accusation is transparently false.

Nicholas then rambles on about Pennsylvania's most notorious "leftists":

Sen. Specter was not surprised, however, that the Daily News followed its traditional practice of endorsing the far-left candidate, as they did in 1998 with Bill Lloyd, 1992 with Lynn Yeakel, and 1986 with Bob Edgar. Rep. Hoeffel certainly fills that bill, being farther to the left on the ADA's ratings with 100 percent than even Sen. [John] Kerry (85 percent) or Sen. [John] Edwards (65 percent).

Not one of these people is on the "far left." This is a joke, right?

There's more:

When Philadelphians (and Pennsylvanians generally) go to the polls on Nov. 2, they will certainly be more impressed with the endorsements for re-election that Sen. Specter has received, including the Philadelphia Black Clergy, the statewide AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia Sheriff John Green (elected on the Democratic ticket), Charles Bowser, Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht (elected on the Democratic ticket), to name only a few.

Oh, yeah, getting the Pittsburgh coroner in line was a real coup.

Still more:

In discussing the election, the Daily News might have taken the time to inform its readers that Sen. Specter is Pennsylvania's first four-term senator; that his seniority on the Appropriations Committee has produced very substantial funding for Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) on education, job training, housing, and health care; that Sen. Specter is in line to be chairman of the Judiciary Committee in January, and that he will only be one step away from the chairmanship of the full Appropriations Committee then, too.

Unwritten subtext: Specter's old and he wants everyone to think he and his seniority will continue forever.

Pennsylvania may be, in some respects, an unlucky state, but we're not that unlucky.

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