Is Arlen Specter Even Trying?

By Brendan Skwire
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 10, 2010

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I know I spent last week piling on Arlen Specter's phony-balony hearings on Philly's legendarily awful judicial system, but I have to continue smacking him around.

I've got my issues with Congressman Sestak, most notably his support for warrantless wiretapping and his decision to protect companies like Verizon and AT&T that tapped our phones illegally, but his campaign's nearly-daily press releases address issues I think are important to Pennsylvanians. "Joe Sestak Calls for the Senate to Support Student Aid Reform" arrived sometime in December, with the candidate calling for support for The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (HR. 3221 or SAFRA), which Sestak co-sponsored. Sestak claims SAFRA "saves $87 billion dollars by reducing inefficiency in student loans and invests those savings in increased Pell grants, expanded early education programs, school construction, and community college programs."

"Joe Sestak Rejects Pay Raise for Congress" came just last week, and speaks to ordinary people who are struggling to hold onto their jobs. "With our economic troubles continuing and unemployment at ten percent nationwide, this is no time for Congress to take a pay raise... the federal government has more work to do to help this nation's economy restore its strength and to bring jobs to millions of Americans who need them."

It's relentless: "Joe Sestak's Legislation to Extend COBRA Assistance Passes House in "Jobs Bill""; "Joe Sestak Bill to Improve Transit System in Pennsylvania"; "Joe Sestak Calls Upon Attorney General Holder to Ensure Promised Transparency by Releasing Report on Torture Investigation". Each release is filled with substance, proposals, and actual accomplishments.

In contrast, the emails I receive from the Specter campaign (when I receive anything at all) don't do anything like that. Here's a sampling from the most recent piece that appeared in my inbox, Sestak's Top 10 Blunders in 2009".

The opening paragraph, "Since there’s been so many, it was easy for us to create the Top 10 Sestak Blunders of 2009" immediately loses points for poor grammar, and it doesn't get better from there. Check out these "blunders":

Pandering Prize goes to Sestak

At a political dinner this fall, Joe Sestak summoned biblical references of Moses, sacred tablets, the holy spirit [sic], and other spiritual stories to a gathering of Dauphin County Democrats in Harrisburg. Reporters at the event noted that attendees were “shocked” and “dismayed” over the language and references used by Sestak.

I know, my head totally exploded too. A politician talking about God? That NEVER happens. But seriously, you know what a REAL blunder is? Gutting the economic stimulus and costing Pennsylvania $1.6 billion dollars, accounting for nearly 100 percent of the state's budget gap. That's what Specter did.

Here's another:

Sestak's non-announcement announcement

On July 1 in Wayne County, Sestak unequivocally announced his candidacy for the US Senate race to the Wayne Independent during an interview. However, the next day Sestak had to retract the statement, claiming he had been misquoted, and delayed entering the race for more than a month. John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News called Sestak's uncertain announcement, “The gonna-happen-someday-soon-I-really-mean-it candidacy.”

If that's a blunder, than what is it when an incumbent says "To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican and I am running for re-election in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket" in March, and then after "more than a month", announces “I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate" and becomes a Democrat? Hell, you want to talk about a blunder, Specter's announcement didn't leave any doubt that he was switching out of self-preservation, not principle. Talk about reinforcing perceptions!

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