I should probably save this report from Michael Rubin for tonight, after Sen. Arlen Specter goes down to defeat. But just in case he doesn’t, I’ll put it up now:
If [Specter] were to lose today, nowhere would the cheers be louder than the State Department. Specter loved to travel and, like many Senators, he liked to treat U.S. diplomats as his valets.
But he went further than most senators: At almost every location he traveled, he demanded that the U.S. embassy arrange squash games for him. In Rome or Paris, this might have been easy, but at more far-flung posts, diplomats would have to cease giving their attention to commercial, military, or political work in their host nations in order to make arrangements. Specter’s staff would also make it clear that their boss expected to win.
In my book, whether as a Republican or a Democrat, Specter has been #1 in abuse of power and, for that reason alone, he deserves some humbling.
As Rubin’s post shows, Specter is also #1 in sense of entitlement. Indeed, the only constant in Specter’s career is his certainty that he is entitled to hold office. Any other belief — including which party he should belong to — was subject to change without notice.
Many (most?) Senators feel entitled and, accordingly, behave cynically (just as many behave badly when they travel). But are there any other Senators who have changed party twice? And who can match Specter’s finely calibrated treatment of Supreme Court nominees based on the number of years until his next election year or the tenuousness of his hold on the Judiciary Committee chairmanship?
Sensing that he will be remembered above all for his lack of principle, Specter is claiming that he was on the path to re-election until he voted for the stimulus package last year. He also asserts that he has “no regrets” over that vote.
The notion that Specter could have survived Pat Toomey’s challenge in a year like 2010 if only he had voted against the stimulus is as laughable as the notion that he would knowingly undermine his electoral prospects in order to help it pass.
SCOTT adds: Senator Specter was forthright with his then Republican colleagues when he decided to switch parties (again). He told them at the time he was changing parties because he couldn’t beat Toomey in the Republican primary.